Breaking down the Jets Senior Bowl roster: QB, RB & TE
Jim Nagy and the team in Mobile have given the Jets an early Christmas present.
🗽 Good morning Jets fans and welcome to Wednesday’s edition of TJW. Now the Patriots have been bumped from the playoffs it’s time to support the Chiefs who play the Bills in the Divisional Round and the Rams who will play the Bucs.
Today we’re going to turn our focus back to the Senior Bowl and specifically the offensive roster the Jets have been handed, why? Because it’s one hell of a roster.
I was going to do the whole offense in one post, but that would take quite some reading and Substack would have a go at me for it being too long. So instead I’ll break it down into position groups, today it will be QB, RB, and TE, and then I’ll touch on WR and OL separately.
🏈 I think it makes sense to break this down by position group, and let’s start with the group that probably doesn’t interest fans too much.
I will say that the Jets got three outstanding prospects and arguably QB1 in Kenny Pickett.
The Jets obviously aren’t in the market for a starting QB and I believe they like Mike White as the backup option too. All three of the Senior Bowl QB’s on their roster are going to be taken relatively early in my opinion and the Jets can go a long way to trying to build up Kenny Pickett to the point where a team is willing to move up with the Jets to grab him.
However, there is also another point to this discussion. If you want to evaluate receivers and tight ends, it helps to have a competent QB capable of making NFL throws. All three of these guys are competent QB’s, and both Kenny Pickett (67.2%) and Carson Strong (70.2%) finished the 2021 college season with accurate stat lines.
🏈 Now, let’s move to a position group where the jets may have some interest.
In the 2021 NFL Draft, the Jets somehow managed to bag Michael Carter in the 4th round, most draft sites had him as a 2nd round prospect and so did I.
Although he battled injuries during the 2021 season, he showed that he has the ability to be a tremendous NFL back going forward. He had 964 yards from scrimmage on 183 touches, which works out at 5.3 yards per touch.
Knowing the offensive system and where Mike LaFleur came from though, there is an expectation that rotation is key. Ty Johnson and Tevin Coleman got a significant run with the Jets in 2021 and, Austin Walter and LaMichael Perine made a couple of cameos.
Personally, I think you look to pair Carter with a bigger more physical back (although the way MC breaks tackles, you’d consider him physical enough).
Hassan Haskins is coming off a season where he scored 20 touchdowns and 1,327 yards on 270 attempts, including 825 yards after contact at an average of 3.06 yards per attempt. At 6’1 and 220lbs, he’s the kind of physical presence the Jets may be looking for.
Ford is an inside/outside runner who flourished as a starter for the Bearcats, he shows good contact balance and the physicality you’d want. Like Haskins he averages 3.07 yards per attempt after contact, so he’s another guy you can look to. The Bearcats have a lethal offense at times in 2021, led by Ridder and Ford. The Alabama transfer rushed for 1319 yards and 19 touchdowns at 6.1 yards per carry.
Don’t sleep on Abram Smith, his 1,598 and 12 touchdown season took many by surprise this season, but his 3.92 average yards after contact is a number that really pops out at me. Not to mention that 229 of his 258 attempts came in a zone-blocking scheme.
Expect to start hearing White’s name a lot more over the coming months, he’s largely flown under the radar up to 2021. Then he came out and put 1000 yards and 15 touchdowns on the Pac-12, running at 5.5 yards a carry and stacking up 619 yards after contact, that’s good for a 3.38 yards after contact average per carry.
Last but not least, let’s talk about Jeremiah Hall. A player that you can’t just judge based on a box score, because there isn’t much of a box score to look at. Although, he did catch 32 passes for 334 yards and 4 touchdowns playing a hybrid TE/FB roll similar to a Trevon Wesco for the Jets. He was also a team captain and one of the most vocal leaders on the team. Hall plays with the technique and physicality in the blocking game that you can imagine MLF loving.
🏈 This is about as loaded as a position group that you can get at the Senior Bowl (although the Jets offensive line may give it a run for its money). I like every single tight end on this list and all of them could and would improve the Jets offense in 2022. But let’s take a look at them one by one.
First of all, I did a quick statistical comparison of the tight ends on the Jets Senior Bowl roster.
There is only one place to start here and it’s with most people’s TE1 Trey McBride. As we’ve covered before, the lack of TD production isn’t overly concerning. Having spoken to multiple people close to the situation and without the Colorado State setup, the problem falls on the play-calling rather than anything Trey did. It’s hard to score touchdowns when you don’t get targets in the red zone, but every other number is elite. The Jets struggled in contested catch situations, so having McBride would instantly elevate the receiving core in that regard.
Charlie Kolar isn’t going to be the most elusive player in the open field, but what he gives you is a reliable pair of hands and a guy who comes down with the difficult catches, the perfect safety blanket for a young QB, and a red-zone target to utilize.
Jake Ferguson is more prototypical of a classic TE, a good in-line blocker who moves well for his size. Just the one drop on 46 catches is excellent and while his contested catch numbers are lower than you’d want (Wisconsin is a run heavy team who utilize play-action a lot, which usually means Ferguson is open), his ability to force missed tackles through pure physicality is a trait that can translate to the next level.
Jeremy Ruckert grew up a Jets fan and that has to count for something right? Ruckert is one of those guys where his talent level is significantly better than the stats would indicate. There are a lot of mouths to feed at OSU and he was often seen as the 5th option this season after Olave, Wilson, Smith-Njigba, and running back TreVeyon Henderson. Ruckert has the size, frame, and athletic ability to succeed at the next level, don’t let the stats fool you.
Finally, you have Cole Turner from Nevada who’s a 6’6 240lb move TE. Nevada operates an air-raid attack so Turner spends a fair amount of time flexed out and because of that, he’s likely going to be seen as a “F” tight end, meaning a guy who’s moved around in the attack, sometimes lining up in the backfield, sometimes in the slot and sometimes out wide. Cole is a natural pass catcher with excellent body control, he plays physical and his 17 contested catches show he has the ability to win those 50/50 balls. Personally, I think you partner Turner with a more traditional “Y” Tight End, and that poses considerable matchup headaches.
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