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Comparing 2022 NFL Draft Edge Prospects
Who's the best of the best for the Jets at #4
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The draft is officially 3 weeks away and the prospect visits are coming in thick and fast for the Jets. The closer we get to the draft the more convinced I am that the Jets are taking edge at #4 overall.
Based on the scheme we run, the value of the position, the prospects set to be available, and everything Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh have said…I’ll believe it’s EDGE and only EDGE until proven otherwise.
Today I’m going to jump into the EDGE comparison tables, but before we do that let’s quickly update the visit tracker.
Teams are allowed to host 30 prospects before the draft, I’ve collated a list of all the prospects the Jets have invited to the facility for a visit and popped them below, the number in brackets is how many times the team has met with the prospect across all events (combine, pro day, etc).
Jets Prospect Visit Tracker
Treylon Burks - Wide Receiver - Arkansas (2)
Ikem Ekonwu - Offensive Tackle - NC State (1)
Sauce Gardner - Cornerback - Cincinnati (2)
Aidan Hutchinson - EDGE - Michigan (1)
Chris Olave - Wide Receiver - Ohio State (1)
Kayvon Thibodeaux - EDGE - Oregon (3)
Travon Walker - EDGE - Georgia (1)
Jameson Williams - Wide Receiver - Alabama (1)
Garrett Wilson - Wide Receiver - Ohio State (1)
Perrion Winfrey - Defensive Tackle - Oklahoma (1)
Devonte Wyatt - Defensive Tackle - Georgia (1)
Taysir Mack - Wide Receiver - Pittsburgh (1)
So far I’ve only seen concrete confirmation of 12 prospect visits, which means there are 18 still available. Most of the players listed above are seen as first-round prospects with the exception being Taysir Mack who’s seen as a 7th round-UDFA prospect. Mack played four years at Pitt after transferring from Indiana, over the course of his 5-year career the 6’2 receiver totaled 161 receptions for 2,369 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has a career 47.1% contested catch rate with an 11.4% drop rate.
One thing I'll say about visits is that some just go unreported. I spoke to several prospects last year who openly said that the Jets had asked that they not confirm their visits if asked, some will get leaked but just because a prospect hasn't been confirmed, doesn't mean he hasn't met with the Jets.
Edge - Measurables
This edge class is one of the more interesting classes in recent memory, I don’t believe there is a Nick Bosa in this class and I still have Kayvon Thibodeaux as my #1 prospect but there are a lot of questions with a lot of prospects.
With the measurables outlined below, I’ve only included official numbers, there are some unofficial numbers doing the rounds for some prospect drills, but I didn’t want to include those in this comparison.
What stands out from the measurables?
Mafe, Walker, Ojabo, and Kayvon are absolutely lightning and the explosion off the snap is evidenced by the 10 yard splits. Walker’s 1.54 is very noticeable at 270+ lbs.
Kayvon’s bench press is extremely impressive considering he’s sitting at 254lb, you expect Aidan Hutchinson to be up there, but for Kayvon to put up 27 in comparison to Aidan’s 28 is impressive. The 21 from Karlaftis is surprising considering his calling card is strength, he certainly plays stronger than he benches.
Edge - Statistics
This is where it gets really interesting. In terms of category leadership, Aidan Hutchinson led the pack in 3 (Pressures, PFF Grade, and Pass rush win %), along with Jermaine Johnson who also topped the table with 3 (Sacks, Tackles, and Tackles for a loss).
Pass rush win % is one of the better measuring sticks as it’s a stat that the player can absolutely control regardless of teammates. Here is where my concerns with Travon Walker come into effect, 4 of the 7 listed had a pass rush win % of over 20 with Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux leading the way. Walker’s 10.2% is noticeably the worst of the pack. Based on a minimum of 200 pass-rushing snaps, Walker would rank 172nd in college football, that’s a red flag.
Jermaine Johnson’s isn’t as high as you’d expect considering the sack and tackle for loss numbers, but Walker sitting last in pressure and pass rush win % is much more concerning. If he is the pick at #4, you really have to trust your coaches to get the production to match the athletic ability.
Here are some other numbers that stuck out to me, the 5 forced fumbles for Ojabo are outstanding, it shows he has active hands, pop in the tackle, and a nose for the football…but his 24.1% missed tackle rate is eye-popping and shows he has some work to do on his tackle technique…while we’re on missed tackle %, I’m surprised by that Karlaftis number, a player I consider to be technically very polished.
Jermaine Johnson’s 17.5 tackles for a loss, one more than Aidan Hutchinson shows the Florida State mans bursts through gaps, combine that number with a high tackle rate and low missed tackle %, and you start to get an impression of a player who is going to be making plenty of plays on Sundays to come next year.
Sometimes base statistics can be misleading, take pressures and sacks for example. Those numbers will depend on how many times the player had the opportunity to rush the passer. Let’s say Player A has 20 pressures and Player B has 10, your instinct would be to say that Player A is a much better pass rusher…but what if player A had 20 pressures on 50 pass-rushing snaps but Player B had 10 pressures on 20 pass-rushing snaps, that changes things.
PFF has developed a PRP (pass-rushing productivity) grade which is a “formula that combines sacks, hits and hurries relative to how many times they rush the passer”, here’s how our 7 pass rushers rated:
Aidan Hutchinson: 11.8 PRP
Kayvon Thibodeaux: 11.0 PRP
Boye Mafe: 10.4 PRP
David Ojabo: 10.1 PRP
George Karlaftis: 9.4 PRP
Jermaine Johnson: 7.6 PRP
Travon Walker: 5.1 PRP
Again, this doesn’t look great for Travon Walker…or Jermaine Johnson for that matter, but it does put Kayvon Thibodeaux and Aidan Hutchinson on much more of an even keel. Hutchinson rushed the passer significantly more than Kayvon, which led to the higher pressure numbers.
Pass Rush Side
One aspect that we don’t often mention is where players line up, just like the offensive line there is a comfort level for pass-rushers depending on which side they rush from.
Take Carl Lawson, for example, the prized free-agent acquisition from 2021 will make his Jets debut this year and he rushes almost exclusively from the right side. Of his 722 snaps on the defensive line in 2020, he played on the right side on 690 of them.
So of the seven pass rushers mentioned in this article, what % of their pass-rushing snaps came on the left-hand side of the line, and what was their PRP number from the left?
Aidan Hutchinson 55.1% (11.6 PRP)
David Ojabo 44.9% (9.5 PRP)
Kayvon Thibodeaux 53.8% (8.1 PRP)
Travon Walker 37.4% (7.7 PRP)
George Karlaftis 52.5% (10.6 PRP)
Boye Mafe 30.2% (14.9 PRP)
Jermaine Johnson 57.7% (8.3 PRP)
A team won’t pass on a prospect because of where they lined up, but someone like George Karlaftis who played over 50% of his pass-rush snaps from the left and had a PRP north of 10.6 becomes more attractive, as does Aidan Hutchinson but there’s no way he’s making it to #4. Kayvon did play over 50% of his snaps on the left, but his 8.1 PRP pales in comparison to his 13.1 number when rushing from the right side. He had 2 sacks when rushing from the left and 6 when rushing from the right. It’s another knock on Travon Walker to the Jets, not only did he play less than 40% of his snaps on the left-hand side, but his 7.7 PRP was the worst of the bunch.
Mysterious tweets from NFL players are always intriguing, but also alarming I'd they're coming from a player currently rostered to your team. Jets tackle George Fant doesn't say a lot, so the 🚨 got sounded when he tweeted the following:
Fant is set to enter the final year of his contract in 2022, and after putting up a top-10 rated season as an offensive tackle he may have been expecting a raise and extension on the $11.1 million he's set to earn this year.
If Fant were to secure the left tackle job in camp, that $11.1 cap number would make him the 15th highest paid player at the position, a good deal for the Jets. If he were to play at right tackle instead, he would be the 4th highest-paid player at the position, a good deal for George.
This may have nothing to do with the actually cap number and his $ ranking at his position, and everything to do with wanting an extension and some more financial security as he heads to the wrong side of 30.
I expect Fant to secure that left tackle job and if I were the Jets I'd be trying to secure his services long-term before he does that.
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