The Jets are just one week away from the peak of the offseason. A general manager dead set on building through the NFL Draft will get his second crack at it next Thursday with a whole lot of ammunition.
While much is made of New York’s first round selections, the Jets won’t climb out of the gutter by hitting on those alone. Half of Gang Green’s 10 picks come in the fourth round or later, where Joe Douglas will look to find undervalued talent to fill out his roster.
Here are five guys the Jets could target on Day Three of the NFL draft:
Hunter Long, TE, Boston College
Chris Herndon is entering the final season of his contract, and after struggling mightily with drops in 2020, he’s far from a roster lock a year from now. Even if the Jets do decide to stick with Herndon, Mike LaFleur’s scheme can never have too many capable tight ends, and Long is a pro-ready product who was a focal point of Boston College’s offense.
The 6-foot-5, 253-pound redshirt junior caught 57 passes for 685 yards and five touchdowns in the Eagles’ 11 games, finishing the season as the most targeted tight end in college football.
Long might not possess the top-level athleticism to make him a Day One, or maybe even a Day Two pick. He does, however, have great hands, he’s fluid in and out of the breaks in his routes, he has above-average speed for the position and he knows how to find pockets in the zone to sit down and pick up short yardage.
Long was also asked to block in-line often in Boston College’s pro-style offense, and he was a mainstay on special teams as well. This is a safe pick in Round Four that can be LaFleur’s—and potentially his new quarterback’s—best friend.
Kylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State
New York’s running back room certainly leaves a bit to be desired. Tevin Coleman is the veteran of the group, while Ty Johnson, Josh Adams and La’Mical Perine are all going to be competing for a roster spot. The Jets would be wise to add a rookie to the mix, in the hopes that he can emerge as a compliment to Coleman, or maybe even as the leader of the pack, like James Robinson did last year in Jacksonville.
Hill opted out of the 2020 season after just three games, but those three games were enough to show the kind of versatility that can make him a key piece in the Jets offense. A year after compiling 242 carries for 1,350 yards and 10 touchdowns, Hill found himself in an extremely pass-happy offense under new head coach Mike Leach, thriving as a receiving threat.
Hill posted 23 catches for 237 yards and a score in that short time frame. His receiving prowess, coupled with his familiarity running outside zone, will bode well with LaFleur.
Shemar Jean-Charles, CB, Appalachian State
It’s not often that First-Team All-Americans are projected to be sixth-round picks, but Jean-Charles is used to exceeding expectations. A two-star recruit out of Miramar, Florida, Jean-Charles dominated opposing wideouts in 2020, posting a 83.9 Pro Football Focus grade. His 16 passes defended led the nation and earned him Appalachian State’s first All-American honor in program history.
Jean-Charles played about 75% of his snaps in zone coverage, where his outstanding instincts allowed him to make sharp breaks on the ball and take away completions at the catch point. That will make him a strong fit in Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrech’s defense. Jean-Charles also captained the Mountaineers this past season, which should tick a box for Douglas, after the Jets’ general manager drafted almost exclusively team captains a year ago.
Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina
Smith isn’t quite Deebo Samuel, but the fellow Carolina product plays a very similar style. At 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, the bulk of his catches come behind the line of scrimmage or on short routes over the middle, but he has the speed and hands to get behind the defense and test deep safeties. That should play well in a West Coast offense that took advantage of Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk’s speed a year ago.
Smith was the victim of wildly inconsistent quarterback play at South Carolina, and it took a strong performance at the Senior Bowl to showcase the full breadth of his skillset. Look for him to be drafted anywhere in the last three rounds, where he can be a fourth or fifth wide receiver and help out on special teams as a return man.
Smith, fittingly, was also a team captain.
David Moore, IOL, Grambling State
Moore is another player who really helped himself out in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. He dominated one-on-one drills, earning the top offensive lineman award, a distinction voted on by the opposing defensive linemen. Moore is a mammoth at 350 pounds, and he holds that weight easily, looking incredibly fluid and playing faster than most of his counterparts.
Coming from Grambling State, there are concerns about the level of competition. However, the transition from the SWAC to the Senior Bowl was seamless, and it should assuage some fears in that department.
Finally, Moore still needs some refinement in his technique to be a quality starter at the next level, but with his speed and strength combination, his ceiling is sky-high. He is a fourth or fifth round pick that would provide some much-needed depth right away on the Jets line.
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