NFL Draft Notebook: 5 players the Jets should target at the Senior Bowl

2022 NFL Draft, Trey McBride. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
2022 NFL Draft, Trey McBride. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

One of the biggest advantages an NFL team can get in the predraft process is the opportunity to coach one of the Senior Bowl rosters. This gives teams the chance to get an up-close look at more than 100 prospects in the upcoming draft most of whom will end up getting drafted. This year one of the teams who will get this advantage is the New York Jets who will likely spend at least a couple of their nine draft picks in the 2022 NFL Draft on players they will get the opportunity to coach in Mobile.

Along with taking a look at several Senior Bowl participants the New York Jets might take in the 2022 NFL Draft, this week’s NFL Draft Notebook also looks at the following

  • The top tight ends in the 2022 NFL Draft
  • An area each NFC West team must address this offseason
  • Several East-West Shrine Bowl participants to watch next week
  • And much more

Five Senior Bowl Participants Who Would Make Sense For the New York Jets

Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, Nebraska
While a lot of analysts are predicting the New York Jets will add a corner early in the 2022 NFL Draft, the more likely scenario is the team will wait till the third day to address this need. The reason the Jets will wait to address this need is that they were pleased with the play of rookies Michael Carter II and Brandin Echols, both of whom they took on day three of the draft. A corner that would fit the Jets scheme and should be available on day three of the draft is Cam Taylor-Britt of Nebraska. Taylor-Britt is a big corner who shows outstanding ball skills and has the versatility to play either corner or free safety in the NFL.

Romeo Doubs, WR, Nevada
While the New York Jets would love to add a number one receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft, this year’s draft class does not have any standout wide receivers. Due to this lack of top-end talent look for them to try and more depth through the draft. One player who New York should target to add some depth to their receiving core is Nevada wide receiver Romeo Doubs. Last season, Doubs caught 80 passes for 1,109 yards and 11 touchdowns and proved he is one of the better deep threats in college football. He would be a good replacement for Jamison Crowder who is scheduled to be a free agent.

Matt Waletzko, OT, North Dakota
The New York Jets will likely address the offensive line with one of their top picks in the 2022 NFL Draft as they must give Zach Wilson more protection. However, along with taking a player like Evan Neal or Charles Cross early in the draft, the team will also look to add some developmental prospects later in the draft and one player who fits this mold is Matt Waletzko of North Dakota. Waletzko has ideal length coming in at 6-foot-7 and has the quick feet needed to play in the NFL.

Boye Mafe, DE, Minnesota
Another position the New York Jets will likely address early in the 2022 NFL Draft is defensive end. This is a position the Jets must upgrade since the team finished 29th in sacks last year 30th in pressure rate, according to ESPN. While none of the pass rushers the team would possibly take in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft are in this game this is another position the team will likely add more than one player at. A prospect who is taking part in the Senior Bowl that the team could target on day three is Minnesota’s Boye Mafe. Mafe is an outstanding athlete who recorded seven sacks this season.

Trey McBride, TE Colorado State
The highest-rated prospect on this list is Colorado State tight end Trey McBride, who would fill a major need on the Jets roster. New York must address the tight end position as the team saw very little from its tight ends last season. The Jets finished the season with only 50 receptions from its tight ends which ranked 31st in the NFL and also did not get much from this group as blockers. McBride is your classic old school in-line tight end who can help out as both a blocker and be a reliable target in the passing game.

2022 NFL Draft Tight End  Rankings

Top prospect: Cade Otton, Washington
While Cade Otton did not have the 2021 season he had hoped for, missing several games and only finishing with 21 catches, he is still the top tight end in the NFL Draft. The main reason he is ranked so high is he is a complete tight end. As a blocker, he does a great job of keeping on his blocks and shows the strength to handle most linebackers he will be asked to block. When it comes to catching the ball, Otton shows consistent hands and does a great job of snagging the ball with his hands. One reason he could fall in the draft is he lacks great speed and does have some trouble getting separation. Despite this though it would be a surprise if he did not eventually become an NFL starter.

Most underrated: James Mitchell, Virginia Tech
Despite missing all but two games of the 2021 season Virginia Tech’s James Mitchell is a player who should be a steal on draft day. The reasons he will likely fall to the later parts of the 2022 NFL Draft is due to a torn ACL that caused him to miss most of this season and his lack of ideal size coming in at only 6-foot-3. However, he has the skillset to make a difference in the NFL. As a receiver, he has the hands and speed to stretch a defense and consistently make the tough catch. When it comes to blocking despite being on the smaller side he holds up well in this area and blocks with good technique. He also can help out by carrying the ball, having scored four rushing touchdowns in 2019, so it is easy to see an NFL team using him both at tight end and fullback.

Most overrated: Derrick Deese Jr, San Jose State
While San Jose State tight end Derrick Deese Jr had a breakout season this year, he does not deserve the third-round grade some sites like Bleacher Report are giving him. Instead, he should be considered more of a fifth or sixth-round prospect due to him being undersized for a tight end (6-foot-5, 235 pounds), and lacking the speed you want to see from a player his size. On the positive side, he does show good athletic ability and does a terrific job of making the difficult catch.

Biggest risk: Grant Calcaterra, SMU
SMU’s Grant Calcaterra is one of the more interesting prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft. On one hand, you have a tight end who is one of the most natural pass-catching tight ends in the draft. On the other hand, you have a player who has battled concussions throughout his career and briefly retired from football due to this. This injury history and high potential make Grant Calcaterra one of the riskier prospects in the draft.

Player who had a breakout year: Trey McBride, Colorado
One of the biggest breakout players in college football this season was Colorado State tight end Trey McBride. This season McBride hauled in 90 passes for 1,121 yards and was the second-highest graded tight end in Pro Football Focus history. This was after McBride only played in four games in Colorado State’s shortened Covid season. McBride can continue seeing his stock rise with a strong Senior Bowl week. If he has a strong week in Mobile it would not be a surprise if he ends up being a second-round pick.

Player who had a disappointing year: Nick Muse, South Carolina
A player who saw his NFL Draft stock fall from a preseason fifth-round grade to a free agent grade this season is South Carolina’s Nick Muse. One of the main reasons for his fall down the draft board was his lack of production. Going into the season big things were expected from him as he was the team’s leading returning receiver but he finished with just 20 receptions and was overshadowed by fellow tight end Jaheim Bell. To go along with his lack of production Muse also struggled as a blocker and showed little power in this area.

2022 NFL Draft Tight End Overall Rankings

1. Cade Otton, Washington (second round)
2. Trey McBride, Colorado State (second round)
3. Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M (second round)
4. Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State (fourth round)
5. Charlie Kolar, Iowa State, (fifth round)
6. Jake Ferguson, Wisconsin (fifth round)
7. Cole Turner, Nevada (fifth round)
8. Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina (fifth round)
9. James Mitchell, Virginia Tech (fifth round)
10. Derrick Deese Jr, San Jose State (fifth round)
11. Daniel Bellinger, San Diego State (fifth round)
12. Greg Dulcich, UCLA (sixth round)
13. Grant Calcaterra, SMU (sixth round)
14. Austin Allen, Nebraska (sixth round)
15. Gerrit Prince, UAB (seventh round)
16. Nick Muse, South Carolina (free agent)

2022 NFL Draft Top Needs For NFC West

A look at the biggest offseason need for each NFC West team.

Arizona Cardinals
One of the biggest issues the Arizona Cardinals have had this season is the play of the secondary. The Cardinals only have one corner who is a high-quality starter in Byron Murphy and adding a player who can play the other side of the field is the top priority for Arizona.

Los Angeles Rams
A need the Rams will need to address this offseason is offensive tackle. This position will be a need even if Andrew Whitworth does not retire and if he does the team is going to have to hope they can add a starter at this position. Unfortunately, adding a starting tackle might be a challenge this offseason though as the team does not have a first or second-round draft pick and has limited cap space.

San Francisco 49ers
Another NFC West team who needs to address the secondary this offseason is the San Francisco 49ers. The team will likely lose Josh Norman and Jason Verrett in free agency and has not seen much from rookies Ambry Thomas and Deommodore Lenoir. Due to these issues look for the 49ers to address the corner position in both the 2022 NFL Draft and free agency.

Seattle Seahawks
The top offseason need for the Seattle Seahawks will depend on what they do with Russell Wilson. If the team trades him adding a quarterback will be a must for the Seahawks. If they hang onto Wilson the top need will be to address the offensive line and specifically offensive tackle.

Scouting Notes

— Two offensive players to watch at the East-West Shrine Bowl are Miami wide receiver Charleston Rambo and South Dakota State running back Pierre Strong Jr. In last week’s NFL Draft Notebook, Rambo was named the top sleeper among this year’s wide receiver class after he had a breakout season for the Hurricanes this season. Meanwhile, Strong is the top small-school running back in the 2022 NFL Draft and is a tough runner who displays great vision.

— On the other side of the ball a prospect to watch in the East-West Shrine Bowl is South Carolina State defensive back Decobie Durant. This past season Durant broke up 12 passes and picked off three passes including two vs. Clemson. As a prospect, he looks like a player who could find a role as a nickel corner due to his impressive ball skills, his physical style of play, and his lack of ideal size.

— While UCLA’s Greg Dulcich might not be the fastest or most athletic tight end in the 2022 NFL Draft he is the type of player who has a long career in the NFL. What stands out about Dulcich is his ability to contribute in the passing game. He possesses very reliable hands and has no trouble catching either the low ball or a pass in traffic. He also is a willing blocker who is improving his technique in this area. This skill set should allow him to become a good number two tight end in the NFL.

— One team who will be paying special attention to quarterback Kenny Pickett is the Pittsburgh Steelers. According to NFL Networks Ian Rapoport, the team has already spent a lot of time looking at him and is a prospect they will strongly consider in the first round. This fit makes sense as the Steelers lose Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph nor Dwayne Haskins will likely be the long term answer. One big issue is the Steelers may have to trade up to get Pickett as it is unlikely he will be around when Pittsburgh drafts 20th overall.

— A big offseason priority for the Los Angeles Chargers this season will be to resign Andre Roberts. Roberts was added midseason this year and was a significant upgrade at kick returner averaging 32.8 yards per return. If the team does lose him they could look to add his replacement in the 2022 NFL Draft. Two prospects who could be good replacements are Appalachian State’s Jalen Virgil and Utah’s Britain Covey. Both of these players could possibly be added as free agents after the draft but the Chargers might want to use one of their four seventh-round picks on one to make sure they don’t lose them to another team.

— The New England Patriots have shown an interest in James Madison quarterback Cole Johnson according to his agent. Johnson is the most underrated quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft and could find a role as a developmental quarterback in New England. Last season Johnson threw for 3,779 yards and 41 touchdowns while completing 68% of his passes.

Quote of the Week

“I’m excited for him. He’s put a lot into it and been a great leader for us. And the chance to come back here to this area and play his last game in North Carolina, I know, was exciting for him. And I’ve got a ton of respect from Nick, just the way he practices and he’s just steady and comes to work every single day.”

– South Carolina coach Shane Beamer, per The State, on South Carolina tight end Nick Muse.