NFL Combines Takeout, What We Learned Before Free Agency

The NFL Combine is over, which means the real work of New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas is about to begin.

The Jets are deep in preparations for free agency, which begins next week. And then they will fully focus on the NFL Draft, where they have four top-38 picks.

It’s going to be a hectic and impactful few months, and how the Jets navigate it will get them out of this decade-long rut, or prolong it.

But before we get into any of that, let’s digest what we learned at the Combine last week. Here are my takeaways.

Exceptional performance

There was plenty to be excited about for Jets fans watching Combine practices this year, as they saw several high-profile performances from players who could give their team a big boost in a position of need. Here are some of the players that caught my attention and why.

Georgia S Lewis Cine: He ran a blazing 4.38 seconds 40, having proven his versatility in coverage and near the line in college. A reminder, there are compelling Day 2 options if the Jets don’t take Kyle Hamilton early.

Florida BC Kaiir Elam: His physical style of play in a 6-2 frame should have appealed to the Jets before his 40 of 4.39 seconds. It won’t make up for a tough 2021 season, but it should put him in day two conversation.

Boston College OL Zion Johnson: His ranking was already on the rise after a big Senior Bowl. He was even better at the Combine and starting to look like a Round 1 lock after a best 33 bench press reps.

Georgia LB Quay Walker: His 6-4 frame and speed made him a compelling high-potential option heading into the Combine. His time of 4.52 seconds out of 40 and his solid overall drive make it hard to imagine him long after the start of day two.

Virginia TE Jelani Woods: He will no longer be slated as a late-round pick after a terrific reaper: He ran a 4.61-second sprint for 40 yards and led all tight ends with 24 reps in the bench press.

That should help the Jets

The Jets have a lot of needs, which isn’t ideal. But it’s clear after the Combine that they will have plenty of options to fix their shortcomings, as some of the strongest position groups were where they needed the most help.

It was a very good combination for point runners, defensive backs, wide receivers and offensive linemen.

It’s no secret that this cutting-edge class is special at the top, but it’s starting to get pretty stacked throughout the early part of the draft with some head-spinning workouts from Oklahoma’s Nik Bonitto, Boye Mafe of Minnesota and David Ojabo of Michigan.

For all the talk about how weak this class of wide receivers was, it certainly didn’t look like the Combine where Ohio State’s Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson seemed to be establishing themselves as the top 20 picks and Memphis Calvin Austin III stood out. established as one of the first round picks with a ridiculous 4.32 seconds 40.

We’ve already gone over some of the options at those other positions above, but talent is clearly where the Jets need to improve. And that must be a good thing.

It probably won’t help

This draft class didn’t have a true standout quarterback before the Combine, and it still doesn’t. Now you might be wondering why that matters to the Jets, who aren’t looking for a quarterback.

There are several reasons.

If someone had become one of the best quarterbacks this week, there’s a chance they could have entered the top 10 to have it. And that would have increased the chances of a very good player in a position of need falling to the Jets in the top 10.

And, of course, the Jets could have been a business partner for a team looking to break into the top 10, giving them more ammunition to improve their team with picks in the first three days.

It’s not the end of the world, but all things being equal, it would have been better for the Jets if the biggest quarterback story in this Combine was jaw-dropping practice and not hand size. by Kenny Pickett.

New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas walks onto the field before an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass.  (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

To exchange or stay

Speaking of trades … between now and draft night, one of the Jets’ biggest intriguing things going forward will be whether they should make one or stand between now and when they’re in the game. counter.

My feeling on this is that there is no right answer. Not at this stage. There are too many variables. If they have a chance to improve significantly with a trade, they should pull the trigger. But they can’t trade the entire top of their draft to land a superstar because they’re not yet deep enough or talented enough for one player to make them a significantly better team.

Douglas has been clear, both in his past actions and in his recent words. He’s ready to make a deal.

“Look, we’re still open for business,” Douglas told the Combine last week. “In the last two drafts, I’ve had the experience of comebacks and comebacks. So again, if the opportunity arises, we’ll look at every opportunity as it comes and goes. “There’s an opportunity to trade, accumulate more picks, more assets and still be in target range to get the players we’re excited about. Of course, we’ll think about it.”

And that’s the right approach. It all depends on the opportunity and whether it allows them to add talent while leaving enough project capital for them to continue adding depth and talent in other areas of need.

Also note

Berrios update: With free agency starting next week, it’s still unclear whether receiver Braxton Berrios will re-sign or hit the open market. Douglas told the Combine he had “good conversations” with Berrios’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, and would continue those discussions.

“Obviously Braxton has been great since we signed him and he’s been an asset to this team and to us,” Douglas said. “It’s important to keep guys who do things the right way and behave the right way.”

It’s true. But the Jets are not in a position to overpay a very good returner who has not established himself as a starting receiver. Ultimately, the market will set the value of Berrios and the Jets will then have to make their decision accordingly.

Where Mims fits in: Douglas was asked if receiver Denzel Mims has a future with the team after his nightmarish second season. While Douglas praised the former second-round pick’s work ethic, he didn’t offer a definitive answer on his future with the team other than to say “I know he’s excited to be back here for OTAs and competing with the rest of his teammates.”

And that’s because Mims’ future is uncertain. With the Jets sure to bring in more receivers in the coming months, Mims needs to have a solid offseason program to secure a spot on the roster for his third season.

Andy Vasquez is the Jets Beats author for For unlimited access to all Jets analytics, news, deals and more, please sign up today and download our app.

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Twitter: @andy_vasquez