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Jets add speed on day three
The Wyatt-Hupton family is still patiently waiting for the most anticipated arrival of the off-season so I thought I’d just quickly send out a short TJW this Sunday morning to recap day three of the draft for the Jets and touch on a few UDFA’s that have signed with New York.
So we’re just going to have a quick throw section with little tidbits. Overall the Jets made 7 selections in the draft, with a few JD-style trade-downs at the back end of the draft yesterday. There seemed to be a common theme with the picks yesterday and it went back to Joe Douglas’s love and belief in speed.
Round 4 (120th overall) Carter Warren, Offensive Tackle, Pittsburgh - I did have a look at Warren in Edition #341 which you can find here. I concluded “He’s largely been a left tackle but has shifted over to RT for a handful of snaps over his career, and technically he's quite polished as a pass-blocker in many ways. He’s a good developmental talent to have on your roster, I know he’s 25 but if you spend a 4th-round pick and get 4-5 solid years of production, that’s usually pretty good.” Well, the Jets spent a 4th round pick and if we get 5 years of solid production, I’ll be happy.
Round 5 (143rd overall) Israel Abanikanda, Running Back, Pittsburgh - The Jets dipped back into the Pittsburgh stock with a lightning-fast RB who had 20 touchdowns last season, a fair few of them running behind Carter Warren. Israel ran a 4.45 forty-yard dash with a 1.5 ten-yard split, both numbers are elite. He also has some experience returning kicks, including a kick return touchdown in 2021. He’s an ideal zone, cut-and-go runner. We expected the Jets to take a RB and Israel is a good one.
Round 6 (184th overall) Zaire Barnes, Linebacker, Western Michigan - A converted high school safety, Barnes is an interesting prospect as he brings some much-needed speed to the linebacker room and I’d say this also may be a pick with an eye for the special teams unit. He ran a 4.56 in the forty and his 7.02 in the three-code highlights his change of direction ability. He had 93 tackles this year with 4.5 for a loss, 1 sack, 1 interception, and 8 passes broken up.
Round 6 (204th overall) Jarrick Bernard-Converse, Cornerback, LSU - Jarrick played corner in college, first at Oklahoma State and then at LSU last year, but chances are he may end up playing free safety at the next level. He has great size and runs a 4.4 in the forty but his testing mirrored his game. Although his straight-line speed is excellent, he doesn’t change direction that well and has some sticky hips when trying to turn and run, which led to him running a 6.94 in the 3-cone which is average. I like the idea of him playing deep safety and using that speed to range from sideline to sideline.
Round 7 (220th overall) Zack Kuntz, Tight End, Old Dominion - I haven’t watched any Zack Kuntz tape at all but what I do know is he scored a perfect 10/10 on his relative athletic score. Which included running a 4.55 in the forty at 6’7 and 255lbs, and scoring an elite grade in explosion, agility and speed will get you drafted. The problem is, he’s barely played football. Over 5 years in college, 3 at Penn State and 2 at Old Dominion, he’s recorded 88 receptions and 7 touchdowns. A guy with his athletic profile should be putting that up per season in college, especially at Old Dominion. Most of his numbers are average, including his contested catch number just being a shade over 40%. But, I love this selection. In the 7th round, you take some crazy athletes and see if you can coach everything up, that for me is what the 7th round is for.
Like we did last off-season, we’re going to really get into the detail of each of these players over the coming months, we have a lot of column inches to fill and not a lot happening on the NFL calendar, so we’ll have some time to dive in.
I haven’t watched the vast majority of the players listed below. So for now I’m going to share some notes from national media publications (NFL), but I’ll be getting to each and every one. Watching the film, talking to coaches and teammates, and then sharing full reports.
As expected, it was a haul and the one to watch in here is Kahlef Hailassie who received over $167,000 in guarantees, which is a lot for a UDFA. That shows a real belief in him by the scouting staff.
Jason Brownlee is also one to watch as I saw several networks who had a 4th-5th round grade on him. There are three players with very little information available.
UDFA - Kahlef Hailassie, Cornerback, Western Kentucky - “Hailassie has the size, instincts and ball skills to surprise on the next level. His route anticipation and ability to sniff out the quarterback’s intentions serve him well in zone, which might be the best fit for him. However, unlike many zone corners, he has the mirror-and-match pedal and smooth hips to stay connected to routes. He’s tough as a run defender but needs to prove he can play against NFL competition across from him. Hailassie has Day 3 potential and is a prospect to watch.” - NFL
UDFA - Tim Demorat, Quarterback, Fordham - “A traditional pocket passer quarterback who takes what the defense gives him, reads through his progressions, and makes smart, accurate decisions due to quick, rhythm throwing routes.” - Sports Illustrated
UDFA - Marquis Waters, Safety, Texas Tech - “Waters is an underrated run-defending safety who is best making plays downhill or in the box. Though his game has limitations, he possesses enough skill to be used in a zone system and comes with a special-teams mentality.” - Pro Football Network
UDFA - Trey Dean, Safety, Florida - “Big, long safety with good athleticism and toughness but a lack of top-end speed. He needs to play with better patience early in the rep and must become more aware of his assignment responsibilities. While he lacked speed in his NFL Scouting Combine testing, he did show the ability to run with downfield targets on tape. Dean can cover big tight ends and help support the run in the box but spotty angles to the tackle plague him at times. Dean will have to compete to make a team as a down safety who can shine on special teams.” - NFL
UDFA - Travis Dye, Running Back, USC - “Instinctive runner with modest size who finds ways to squeeze the most he can out of almost every run. Dye runs with the pace, vision and change-of-direction talent to dart through run lanes and he resets his travel plans according to the flow of the defense. He’s efficient but lacked functional speed and explosiveness in his pro-day testing. Dye's third-down value helps his chances, but he might have to fight for a spot as an undrafted free agent.” - NFL
UDFA - Xavier Gipson , Wide Receiver, Stephen F. Austin - “Slot receiver whose best work comes after the ball is in his hands as both a pass-catcher and punt returner. Gipson possesses average size but good speed and demonstrates the vision and early acceleration to create explosive plays in the open field. He’s not a very accomplished route runner and takes the worst of it on 50/50 balls. His ability to make it as a pro could be tied directly to his ability to uncover as a catch-and-run option and to thrive as a return man.” - NFL
UDFA - Deslin Alexandre, DL, Pittsburgh - “Alexandre is an edge defender who relies on his broad frame and natural power. He’s long and naturally heavy-handed, but he will need to play with a much better bend to improve his ability to hold the point against the run. While he’s a segmented mover at times, he does have quick feet and shows decent pursuit quickness and motor. He’s a face-up rusher who is unlikely to beat NFL opponents with crafty moves and counters, so fortifying his power rush will be critical as a Day 3 possibility for 4-3 defenses.” - NFL
UDFA - T.J. Luther, Wide Receiver, Gardner-Webb - “The highly competitive Luther showed off his vertical chops on a regular basis at Wofford and Gardner-Webb. He possesses NFL-caliber athleticism and ball skills to develop. He can overwhelm opponents with his speed but might not have the skill set to beat NFL press coverage at this time. He’s fluid getting through route breaks but will need to expand his tree as a pro. Luther has a chance to be drafted on Day 3.” - NFL
UDFA- Maalik Hall, Linebacker, Southeastern Oklahoma State
UDFA - EJ Jenkins, Tight End, Georgia Tech - “Jenkins might not have the game tape or production to be drafted, but it’s hard to ignore his size, length and willingness to block at an above-average level. While he was a wideout at Georgia Tech, he might be able to rebrand as a slot tight end with the ability to help in the running game.” - NFL
UDFA -Jason Brownlee, Wide Receiver, Southern Miss - “Perimeter wideout with NFL size, an outstanding catch radius and the potential to outplay his draft slotting. Brownlee will need to prove his speed, but he can make top-flight contested catches down the field and has the spring and length to outreach opponents when the ball is in the air. His contested catch count is entirely too high, but he can be his own worst enemy in that regard thanks to unrefined route running. Brownlee is a competitive worker and has enough flash plays on tape to believe that he might have upside to be cultivated.” - NFL
UDFA - Claudin Cherelus, Linebacker, Alcorn State
UDFA - KD Hill, DL, Ole Miss
UDFA - Caleb Johnson, LB, Miami - “After season's end Johnson transferred to Miami where as a junior for the Hurricanes in 2022 Johnson played in 12 games and played 300 snaps for the Hurricanes. He recorded 32 tackles, and 16 assists while making 15 stops. In coverage, Johnson chalked up no pass breakups, no interceptions, and a QB rating when targetted of 96.5. As a pass rusher, he produced 4 total pressures, which included one QB hurry, one QB hit, and 2 sacks on the year.” - Draft Buzz
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