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Slotting Back In
The start of the football weekend isn’t quite the same when the Jets are on a bye. The Falcons/Panthers game tonight doesn’t interest me in the slightest, and outside cheering on the Vikings and Browns who play out divisional opponents this weekend, there aren’t that many games to get excited about. Consider me underwhelmed.
Today we’re going to focus on Elijah Moore’s move to the slot, and because it’s the bye week we’re even going to talk a little about the 2023 draft. I know, it’s strange to have passed Halloween and for Jets fans not to be concentrating on the draft.
Elijah Moore - Slot
Earlier this week Saleh commented on the Elijah Moore situation. Moore hasn’t seen a target over his last three games and has just one catch over his last four appearances.
“Elijah is a great football player,” Saleh said. “We’re trying to find him more opportunities in the slot. It’s a new position for him because we’ve been playing him on the outside. We’re trying to find ways to utilize his strengths.”
His transition to a more permanent position in the slot has already begun. Just take a look at his alignment stats through the first 9 weeks of the season:
At the start of the year, he was playing around 20% of his overall snaps in the slot. He started the year at 32.2% in the slot against Baltimore, but I think that has more to do with the Jets working out how best to use Garrett. He then had four straight games in the low 20s before jumping to 33.3% against Green Bay and then up to 57.1% in the last two weeks.
This is new for Moore in the pros. Over the course of his rookie year, he played 28.3% of snaps inside at the slot position. 37.8% of snaps in the slot was the single-game high, which came in his final game against Philadelphia in week 13. So already he has two games that surpass that number, although in one of those games he only played 10 snaps.
How will this work? Who knows. But I like the concept.
So far this year Moore has only had 3 targets when running a route from the slot position. Last year he caught 15-of-25 slot targets for 133 yards and a touchdown, which means 405 of his 538 yards and 4 of his 5 touchdowns came when he wasn’t in the slot.
However, head back to his college days at Ole Miss and he feasted in the slot. He had 1,738 yards in the slot over the final two years in college, the most of any receiver in college football, and was the highest-graded slot receiver in the 2021 draft class according to PFF.
888 of those 1,193 yards in his senior year came when he was in the slot, those are elite numbers considering the competition he faced at Ole Miss. Moving him to the slot allows him to get cleaner releases off the time, it also gives him more space to use his quick twitch ability in the open field. We tried more predominantly on the outside and it just didn’t work. Let Wilson, Mims, and Davis work the perimeter and let Moore go to town in the slot, that helps Moore, that helps Zach Wilson, and that helps the Jets.
When I first started writing about the Jets for Bleacher Report around 2007, I started as a draft writer. I then continued that at Gang Green Nation when I joined SB Nation in 2009 and to this day the draft is still something that I can become a little obsessive over. If you stick with TJW over the off-season I’ll be getting some interviews with college coaches and hoping to bring some insights in terms of potential prospects.
Fortunately, we don’t really need to concentrate on it right now as the Jets are playing competitive football and our aspirations are playoffs not premium picks. With the bye week upon us though, I thought I’d just note down some initial thoughts on where I see the Jets potentially looking in the back end of the first round in 2023. I’ve also listed one player that has my attention right now, so if you don’t follow college football you have someone to keep an eye on Saturdays.
For the first time in a long time, the Jets have a good team with plenty of talent and no glaring holes. We have holes, don’t get me wrong. But we don’t have glaring ones in my opinion, which opens up opportunities. Here are the top 5 positions I see us targeting:
Linebacker - C.J Mosley, Kwon Alexander, and Quincy have done a fine job so far this year, but Kwon and Quincy are both set to be free agents after the 2022 season, and Mosley is on the wrong side of 30 (although based on contact he’s likely to be here through 2024). If the Jets want to take this defense to yet another level then linebacker is an obvious target. A couple of guys I really like early are Jack Campbell at Iowa and DeMarvion Overshown at Texas (biased pick)
Safety - Joyner seems to be getting better every week, which isn’t surprising considering he missed all of last year with an injury and hasn’t played free safety in years, but I’d still like to see the Jets look for a long-term answer at the position. Unfortunately, this is shaping up to be a pretty bad safety class, I haven’t seen anyone with first-round talent and there aren’t many I’d like in the 2nd round either. Antonio Johnson at Texas A&M is considered the best by many, but I’m not so sure.
Defensive Tackle - Rankins has done a fine job this year but he’s set to be a free agent, Solomon Thomas is a complementary piece as are Shepherd, Smart, and Marshall. If I was asked to put money on a position the Jets would draft first, it would be defensive tackle. As much as I would love Jalen Carter out of Georgia, Jets aren’t getting him unless they move up. Bryan Bresee at Clemson hasn’t been as dominant as I hoped he would be and LSU’s Maason Smith was lost for the season. So again, it’s pretty tough to name a first-round target.
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