Easily the most intriguing storyline heading into Saturday's preseason game against the Bengals is the Jets' proposed usage of third-year safety Antonio Allen at the cornerback position. Injuries have forced the Jets to work with some different combinations over the last few weeks with Allen and veteran Ellis Lankster starting at cornerback with the first unit over the past three days of practice.

In an article with the Star Ledger earlier this week, Allen's college position coach praised his versatility and man-coverage skills, but was dubious about his chances of developing into a full-time cornerback. Even Allen himself seemed skeptical. However, it does look like he'll get his chance to get some reps at the position Saturday night.

After the jump, some theories as to what the Jets might be thinking here and what this could mean for the defense once Dee Milliner and Dimitri Patterson can return from injury.

Introduction

As a rookie, Allen didn't play much, with one of his appearances being a rough game in New England where Tom Brady picked on him three straight times on the game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter. However, last year he won a starting job in camp and really won Jets fans over with his performance against the Patriots in October. Allen matched up with Rob Gronkowski several times in man coverage, breaking up two passes and returning an interception for a crucial touchdown. While Gronkowski got the better of him a few times, he held him to five catches on 13 targets overall, a more than credible effort and a tantalizing glimpse into his potential.

Over the course of the season, Allen had his ups and downs, but most of his best moments came when employed in man-coverage. That fits in with the comments of his position coach in the article linked above. All told, Allen was lined up opposite a receiver in the slot on 170 snaps, including over 40% of the time on pass plays.

So, Allen has in fact essentially had some experience in a cornerback role already. However, using him on the outside is something new. Allen did line up on the outside 16 times last year, but most of these would have been following a back or tight end who motioned out there.

Come in number 39

Entering the 2012 draft, one of the reasons Allen slid all the way to the 7th round was that nobody was too sure what his NFL position would be. He played a role called the "Spur" at South Carolina, which is best described as a hybrid linebacker/safety role. Rex Ryan noted last week that Allen's pro day was really poor as he sought to make the transition to defensive back. Surely Allen is too big and slow to play the cornerback position?

It's a copy-cat league and the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks may be pioneering an evolution in NFL secondary play with the size and versatility of their defensive backfield. I've already written about how the Jets have taken many of the same traits as the Seahawks on board, perhaps influenced by the fact that General Manager John Idzik came from there. Could this - whether "this" is using Allen situationally or full-time as a corner - be another example of trying to incorporate some of the things that have made the Seahawks successful into the Jets organization?

While he missed out on the Seahawks playoff success due to a suspension, there was one player on their roster whose measurables compare pretty closely to Allen, perhaps signifying that converting him into a cornerback of similar repute is not totally out of the question. Brandon Browner is a pro bowler who just happens to wear the same number 39 that Allen does. Let's compare combine measurements:

Height: Allen 6'1½" ... Browner 6'3½"Weight: Allen 210 ... Browner 221

40 yard dash: Allen 4.58 ... Browner 4.63

20 yard split: Allen 2.56 ... Browner 2.70

10 yard split: Allen 1.61 ... Browner 1.67

Bench press reps: Allen 17 ... Browner 13

Vertical jump: Allen 34 ... Browner 36½

Broad jump: Allen 118 ... Browner 123

Short shuttle: Allen 4.25 ... Browner 4.24

Three cone drill: Allen 7.02 ... Browner 7.20

So, in terms of their athletic profile, Allen and Browner are not too far apart. In addition, Allen's first two seasons in the league have seen him gain experience as a starting safety and lining up in the slot, whereas Browner's career started with a broken arm that sidelined him for his entire rookie year and then having to cut his teeth in Canada when he was released in July the following season.

Browner does have the advantage of having played cornerback in college, but that still factored into him going undrafted despite being a projected third round pick because teams were dubious whether he fit at cornerback or safety at the NFL level, a similar dilemma to that which Allen faced. There's also the question of how much of Browner's development to an NFL-ready cornerback can be attributed to performance enhancing drugs, for which he has been punished by the league.

Scheming around the weaknesses

Adding further intrigue to the Browner-Allen comparison is the fact that Browner signed with New England in the offseason. Based on last week's game, they're employing Browner (who will miss the first four games of the season while he serves his suspension) as a conventional cornerback. However, when I was scouting Ras-I Dowling, I noticed something which might factor into their gameplanning now that they have Darrelle Revis on the team.

Last season, I was surprised at how often the Patriots employed their cornerbacks in press coverage. Aqib Talib in particular was left on an island, but you'd often find three Patriots corners all up at the line in passing situations. Obviously we can anticipate that Revis will be employed in cover-0 situations, enabling the Patriots to roll safety support over to their other cornerbacks. Their deep safety is, of course, a converted cornerback (Devin McCourty) who has the coverage skills to latch onto a receiver downfield. What I noticed with regard to Dowling in particular was that there were several occasions where he played up on the receiver and then if the receiver ran down the seam, he passed him off to the deep safety and transitioned to covering the underneath zone. That would allow him to be physical at the line, keep the short intermediates in front of him and potentially jump a route if the quarterback is fooled by the switch. That's how I could see the Patriots employing Browner at times next year.

So, applying this to the Jets, maybe that's something the Jets could do with someone like Allen at times. It might be one way to fix the issue of teams being able to get rid of the ball quickly but without making yourselves as susceptible to the long ball. It also takes away the pressure from a guy like Allen in having to run stride-for-stride with a speedy receiver. Of course, the key to this might be Calvin Pryor, who has the range to make such an approach work in theory, but will need to develop and learn his role really fast.

The immediate future

Since the Jets stuck with the Allen and Lankster pairing since they first experimented with it, I would expect those two to start on the outside Saturday night. While Rex Ryan was asked how he thought Allen might handle the assignment if he drew AJ Green, I would imagine that Lankster will initially draw this assignment or they'll just play a side each and let that dictate who they cover. You might think the 5'9" Lankster would be overmatched against the 6'4" Green, but the Jets did put Lankster on Tony Gonzalez last season, so perhaps they are confident that he is physical enough to overcome that. As Rex said "if [you] can cover that kid, [you] can cover them all." Lankster is a player who loves cover-0 and the challenge of matching up with top receivers, but it remains to be seen if that's how they'll employ him Saturday. Darrin Walls will probably see action on the outside too.

The Bengals are a team that doesn't use a base offense very often, so the Jets will probably be in the nickel or dime most of the time anyway. As an example, during their playoff game against the Chargers last year, the Bengals had three or more receivers on 61 of 81 plays. Although one of those receivers was often tight end Jermaine Gresham lining up out wide or in the slot, they still had 30 plays with four or five receivers.

It will be interesting to see what happens when the Jets go into the nickel. Ordinarily, Kyle Wilson would enter the game to come in and play the slot. However, could this be dictated by matchups? If the speedster Marvin Jones goes out wide and the possession receiver Mohamed Sanu drops into the slot, perhaps Wilson would go to the outside. And what if Gresham is in the game? Does Allen match up with him? I'd have thought that would be the ideal match-up for him.

It's not unheard of for one of the starting corners to come out of the game when the team goes into nickel packages either. One such team that does this? New England.

Conclusions

The team is being creative in terms of looking for solutions to the problems which blighted the secondary last season. In many respects, Saturday's game is a good test, but by the time the season starts we can probably expect to see a more traditional alignment. That doesn't mean Allen can't continue to be employed in man-to-man coverage situations to make use of his skills in that area.

Even if Saturday's experiment is an abject failure, that's not the end of the world for the Jets defense, who know they have Walls and Wilson - two players who have held their own when used as starters on the outside in the past - waiting in the wings. With any luck, projected starters Milliner and Patterson will be available by opening day too.

As Rex noted, Allen is still ascending, adding "especially at the safety position" which is still where his future probably lies. However, within that role they can employ him in man coverage as they already did last season and, in that regard, Saturday's experience will hopefully stand him in good stead.

I'm looking forward to this aspect of Saturday's game and if this makeshift secondary can hold its own better than the starters did in the blowout loss to the Bengals last season, that might add a couple more viable options for the Jets to lean on once they have a full complement of defensive backs available again.

Tags: avsny, bentdouble, BGA, Bent Double

GEICO SportsNite: Mangold 00:01:13
Nick Mangold officially retires after 11 seasons as a member of the New York Jets.

Nick Mangold officially retires after 11 seasons as a member of the New York Jets. 


Jan 1, 2018; Pasadena, CA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes against the Georgia Bulldogs in the first quarter in the 2018 Rose Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Rose Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports (Kirby Lee)
Jan 1, 2018; Pasadena, CA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes against the Georgia Bulldogs in the first quarter in the 2018 Rose Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Rose Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports (Kirby Lee)

Peter Schrager of Fox Sports would be "shocked" if the Jets pass on Baker Mayfield if he's available when they pick at No. 3 during Thursday's NFL Draft, he said during Tuesday's Jet Stream Podcast on SNY.

Schrager spoke of "glowing reports" he received from the dinner Mayfield had with team brass a few weeks ago, and thinks the Jets are all-in on Mayfield -- even if Sam Darnold is available at No. 3.

"Everything I've been listening to for the last two, three months has been that Baker Mayfield -- if he's on the board -- is going to be the pick for the Jets," Schrager said. "That might include Sam Darnold as well -- if Darnold somehow falls. I think that they have been in love with Mayfield for this entire time. I'd be shocked if they went with one of the other guys."

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Jonas Schwartz and Willie Colon are finally ready to see who the Jets select in this year's NFL Draft! Will it be Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, or Josh Allen? To get their answer, they welcome the NFL Network's Peter Schrager to the show for his take on each quarterback, and discuss why Rosen is the guy and why Mayfield is mostly definitely not.

Click below to listen

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Jets' third-round options 00:05:01
SNY NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano and SNY NFL Draft Expert Rich Cirminiello discuss who the Jets will take in the third round of the draft.

The bulk of the attention has been on who the Jets will do with the No. 3 overall pick in Thursday night's NFL Draft.

It will be a quarterback. But which one? At least two of Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, and Josh Rosen will be available when the Jets pick.

Lost in the shuffle a bit has been the fact that the Jets have a third round pick (72nd overall) as well. And SNY NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano and SNY NFL Draft Expert Rich Cirminiello recently discussed who the Jets could take with that pick.

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Top QB prospect Baker Mayfield 00:01:01
Former Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield is expected to be taken as one of the top QB's in the 2018 NFL Draft.

What is NFL Draft week without some drama over the No. 1 pick?

With reports circulating Monday that Wyoming QB Josh Allen is no longer in consideration for the Browns' No. 1 pick, ESPN's Adam Schefter is now reporting that Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield is "definitely" in the conversation. 

Schefter continues by saying the Browns may have their choice in mind for their first overall pick, and before that decision was made, Mayfield was a player in the mix.

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Nick Mangold retires from NFL 00:02:30
After spending eleven seasons with the Jets, Nick Mangold announces his retirement from the NFL.

Nick Mangold, who spent 11 seasons with the Jets, announced his retirement at the team's facility after signing a one-day contract on Tuesday. 

Tags: Nick Mangold
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GEICO SportsNite: Jets 00:01:07
Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan discusses the team's strategy for its No. 3 overall pick with the draft just a few days away.

New York Jets' Jamal Adams (33) and Los Angeles Chargers' Sean McGrath (84) fight for control of the ball during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun/AP)
New York Jets' Jamal Adams (33) and Los Angeles Chargers' Sean McGrath (84) fight for control of the ball during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun/AP)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

The Jets own the third pick in this year's draft, their highest since 1996. How have they drafted in the first round over the past five years?

2017: Safety Jamal Adams, No. 6

It's too early to tell how Adams' career will pan out, but the signs so far have been promising. He started every game in his rookie year as the Jets' secondary definitely played better than it had in 2016. On the field, Adams had his ups and downs, but he showed flashes of brilliance in a versatile role. Off the field, he's played a big part in the ongoing culture change that has galvanized the team and has also been a useful tool in player recruitment.

Tags: Calvin Pryor, Damon Harrison, Darron Lee, Dee Milliner, Jamal Adams, Leonard Williams, Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, Sheldon Richardson
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Nov 18, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold (right) and UCLA Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen (3) shake hands after their game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports (Kelvin Kuo)
Nov 18, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold (right) and UCLA Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen (3) shake hands after their game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports (Kelvin Kuo)

It will be an absolute stunner if the Jets don't take a quarterback after trading up to No. 3 in the NFL Draft, which takes place on Thursday night in Dallas.

So, who will it be?

At least two out of the group of Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, and Josh Allen will be available for the Jets. 

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Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) (Michael Conroy/AP)
Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) (Michael Conroy/AP)

The Browns' choices for their No. 1 pick seem to have come down to two choices just three days away from the NFL Draft: Sam Darnold or Josh Allen?

Yes, there is always the prospect of the Browns going with RB Saquon Barkley with their first overall selection, knowing they have the No. 4 pick later on. However, experts including SI's Peter King see Cleveland getting their quarterback first before addressing anywhere else. 

Recently, rumblings about Allen going No. 1 have gained some steam. But King's most trusted source says Allen is too much of a risk, and the Browns don't want to get another quarterback pick wrong.

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 (Kevin Jairaj)
(Kevin Jairaj)

Broadway Joe loves Broadway Baker. Or at least that's what could be Baker Mayfield's nickname if the Jets were to select him with their No. 3 overall pick. 

Hall of Famer and former Jets QB Joe Namath loves what he has seen from Mayfield over the years of watching him play. He recently watched the Georgia-Oklahoma College Football Playoff matchup at the Rose Bowl on New Year's Eve, and after his daughter asked if he had seen anything like the back-and-forth bout, he responded saying he wouldn't want to be going up against Mayfield...


Everything you need to know about the Jets and No. 3 >> Read more

Vacc's Mini Mock Draft has Jets tabbing Mayfield >> Read more

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 (Dennis Wierzbicki)
(Dennis Wierzbicki)

The Jets have not stopped looking for help on their defensive line as they hosted numerous free-agent linemen on Monday. 

Former Bears DT Lamarr Houston and former Patriots DT Chris Jones were among those looking to impress the Jets. Houston split time with the Bears and Texans last season, totaling five sacks over 10 games. A former second-round pick by the Raiders back in 2010, Houston is entering his ninth season in the NFL this year. 

Jones played for the division-rival Patriots in 2013 and 2014, where he finished with nine sacks and 79 tackles over 28 career games. He most recently played for the 49ers in 2016, where he had 17 tackles over six games. He did not play for an NFL squad in 2017. 

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New York Jets defensive end Leonard Williams on the sidelines during the third quarter against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets defensive end Leonard Williams on the sidelines during the third quarter against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

The Jets have officially picked up DL Leonard Williams' fifth-year option, keeping Williams with the team through 2019 at least. 

Williams, 23, the sixth overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, will make $14.2 million in 2019, assuming he's considered a defensive end. If they try to say he's a defensive tackle, the contract will be $11.4 million, according to SNY's Ralph Vacchiano. The contract becomes fully guaranteed next March.

"It's definitely time to step up and take it to the next level," Williams said last week via Vacchiano. "That comes with a lot. It's just not my play on the field. It comes with my leadership, how I approach work, how much time I'm putting in outside of the mandatory hours into my craft, into my game."

Tags: Leonard Williams
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Who will the Jets select #3? 00:05:13
SNY NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano and SNY NFL Draft Expert Rich Cirminiello discuss who the Jets will select third overall in the NFL Draft.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

In less than a week, Jets GM Mike Maccagnan will make the most important draft pick of his tenure with the team, the one that surely will define his legacy.

No pressure, right?

Tags: Eli Manning, Josh McCown, Ralph Vacchiano
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Tulane Green Wave cornerback Parry Nickerson returns his interception against the Connecticut Huskies in the second quarter at Rentschler Field. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)
Tulane Green Wave cornerback Parry Nickerson returns his interception against the Connecticut Huskies in the second quarter at Rentschler Field. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

Over the last few weeks, we looked at some of the players who have been invited to attend an official pre-draft visit with the Jets. With the visits ending earlier this week, let's take a final look at a selection of the players New York brought in.

Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane

Nickerson is a four-year starter who was a constant standout on the Tulane defense. During his career, he recorded 16 interceptions, broke up another 31 passes and scored two defensive touchdowns. He turned heads at the scouting combine when he ran a 4.32 40-yard dash.

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Jonas Schwartz and Willie Colon are ready to open their present that is the #3 pick in the NFL Draft. The guys discuss the possibility of the Jets trading up, yet again, and the crazy idea of selecting a non-QB (can someone say Bradley Chubb) with the 3rd overall selection. Plus, former NFL QB Dan Orlovsky calls in to give his insight into the top four quarterbacks.

Click below to listen

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 (Tim Fuller)
(Tim Fuller)

The Jets will open the 2018 season in Detroit against the Lions on Monday night football, and finish things in Week 17 on the road against the Patriots.

Their entire 2018 schedule has been confirmed by SNY's Ralph Vacchiano, and is below...

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Jan 1, 2018; Pasadena, CA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes against the Georgia Bulldogs in the first quarter in the 2018 Rose Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Rose Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports (Kirby Lee)
Jan 1, 2018; Pasadena, CA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes against the Georgia Bulldogs in the first quarter in the 2018 Rose Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Rose Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports (Kirby Lee)

Former QB Dan Orlovsky thinks the Jets are targeting Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield with the No. 3 pick in the Draft, and one of the reasons is very specific.

Orlovsky, who played under Kyle Shanahan, noted that Jets OC Jeremy Bates is from the Mike Shanahan coaching tree. And that one of the traits Shanahan loved about John Elway is that he would screw his back foot into the ground when he threw -- adding that Bates loves that trait in quarterbacks as well. 

"There's one guy in the Draft who has that trait," Orlovsky said earlier this week on SNY's Jet Stream podcast. "And it's Baker Mayfield. He does the same thing when he throws. And I just think that those coaches fall in love with traits of guys that remind them of players that they had success with in the past. I think that they're looking at Baker Mayfield and going 'that's our guy.'"

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Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield drops back to pass against Ohio State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) (Jay LaPrete/AP)
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield drops back to pass against Ohio State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) (Jay LaPrete/AP)

Projecting trades in a Mock Draft is a futile effort. There are too many variables and rumors. It's mostly speculation. And really, it's just an exercise in fantasy football.

But … well, who doesn't love fantasy football?

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Oct 14, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold. (Kirby Lee)
Oct 14, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold. (Kirby Lee)

In his latest mock draft, Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer has the Jets taking Sam Darnold as their quarterback of the future at No. 3. 

Many experts believe Darnold could be the first overall pick by the Browns, and if he doesn't land with Cleveland, then the Giants would scoop him up at No. 2. However, with Josh Allen as Breer's No. 1 pick and the Giants electing to go with Saquon Barkley over a quarterback, Darnold drops in the Jets' lap. 

So, there is no need for the Jets to choose between Josh Rosen or Baker Mayfield...

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Mangold's Hall of Fame chances 00:04:59
Dan Graca and Jon Hein debate over Nick Mangold's chances at making the Hall of Fame and the Devils' chances at beating the Lightning.

After a year out of football, No. 74 is officially hanging up the cleats. 

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: On the lists of favorite players and all-time greats, you'll rarely find a center. They're buried in the trenches, often noticed only when a bad snap happens or a defensive tackle breaks through.

The same was probably true for Nick Mangold during his 11 NFL seasons - rarely noticed from the outside and incredibly underappreciated game to game. Yet somehow he still emerged from his long career as a fan favorite. And he definitely emerged as one of the Jets' all-time greats.

Tags: Nick Mangold
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New York Jets defensive end Leonard Williams gestures while jogging on the field prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. (Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets defensive end Leonard Williams gestures while jogging on the field prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. (Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Jets GM Mike Maccagnan made it clear he had no worries about the state of the Jets' defensive line heading into the offseason. Sure, they've lost a lot of talent in recent years, trading Sheldon Richardson, cutting Muhammad Wilkerson and not re-signing Damon Harrison.

But they still have Leonard Williams, the sixth pick of the 2015 draft, and despite a down season last year, the Jets have huge expectations for him.

Tags: Damon Harrison, Leonard Williams, Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Steve McLendon, Ralph Vacchiano
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Los Angeles Chargers kicker Nick Rose attempts a field goal during an NFL game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. (Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)
Los Angeles Chargers kicker Nick Rose attempts a field goal during an NFL game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. (Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

The Jets were awarded kicker Nick Rose on Monday after the Los Angeles Chargers placed him on waivers, the team announced.

Rose made 11 of 14 field goals in 10 games with the Chargers and Washington Redskins last season and converted on 23 of 26 extra points. He went 1-for-3 as a member of the Chargers in Weeks 16 and 17, and 10-for-11 in eight games with Washington. His longest make last year was 55 yards.

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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Brian Winters remembers everything about the moment his 2017 season went off the rails. He remembers the time, the place, the play, and without question, the pain.

"It was second quarter in Oakland (in Week 2) with five minutes to go before half when we were driving in to the north end zone. I still remember it like it was yesterday," said the 26-year-old guard. "It was an outside zone play and (running back) Bilal (Powell) was trying to stretch it outside of me, so I went to continue to push my guy through. And as soon as I pushed through I felt like a pop."

Tags: Brian Winters, Wesley Johnson, Ralph Vacchiano
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Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Jeff Badet catches a touchdown pass against Texas Longhorns defensive back Kris Boyd in the second quarter at the Cotton Bowl. (Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports)
Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Jeff Badet catches a touchdown pass against Texas Longhorns defensive back Kris Boyd in the second quarter at the Cotton Bowl. (Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

Last week, we looked at some of the players who have been invited to attend an official pre-draft visit with the Jets. More names have leaked out over the past seven days, so let's break down some of the more interesting ones in detail.

Jeff Badet, WR, Oklahoma

Badet spent most of his collegiate career at Kentucky, but saw some high profile action last year after transferring to Oklahoma. He wasn't invited to the scouting combine, but if he had been, his pro day numbers for the 40-yard dash, vertical jump and broad jump would all have ranked first or second at the receiver position.

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Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield drops back to pass against Ohio State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) (Jay LaPrete/AP)
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield drops back to pass against Ohio State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) (Jay LaPrete/AP)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: It's not quite crunch time yet, but there are less than three weeks until the start of the first round of the NFL draft, which means draft boards are in their final stages all around the league. It also means that the truth about which players are being targeted by which teams is starting to leak out -- albeit slowly.

Still, there are a lot of variables, especially in the first two picks. But at the moment there aren't many changes to my latest Mini-Mock Draft. The Browns are still taking a quarterback at 1. The Jets are still definitely taking one at 3. And I still think the Giants will take one -- assuming the right one is available -- at 2.

Here's a full look at my new Top 10, with some updated inside information...

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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Former Jets QB Mark Sanchez has been suspended four games after violating the performance-enhancing drug policy, the league announced Friday. 

Sanchez, who last played for the Jets in 2013, was the Bear's third-string quarterback last season. He claimed that "unknowing supplement contamination" was the reason for his drug test to turn up positive. 

The 31-year-old took to Instagram to explain the whole story...

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 (Kamil Krzaczynski)
(Kamil Krzaczynski)

The Jets have already begun condensing their roster for next season as the team announced several cuts on Friday. 

Among them was former Bears RB Jeremy Langford, who signed a reserve/future contract with the Jets worth $630,000 this offseason. The 26-year-old spent time jumping through practice squads last season, and though he was promoted to the Ravens' 53-man roster, an injury pushed him to the IR the same week he joined the team. 

Langford was released following his IR placement, and the former fourth-round pick wouldn't see time for the rest of the season.

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New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) greets Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) during warmups before a game at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner)
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) greets Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) during warmups before a game at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner)

WR Dez Bryant was released by the Cowboys on Friday afternoon, with Bryant reportedly hinting afterwards that he might be staying in the NFC East.

Bryant, 29, had a down year in 2017, with 69 receptions for 838 yards and six touchdowns in 16 games.

"I let a lot of things get in the way that bother me mentally," Bryant said late last season. "I feel like, if anything, I need to deal with in the offseason - is that. Like I said, there's only certain things I can control."

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Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield drops back to pass against Ohio State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) (Jay LaPrete/AP)
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield drops back to pass against Ohio State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) (Jay LaPrete/AP)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Jets are taking a quarterback with the third overall pick in the draft. They know it. Everyone knows it. And they know everyone knows it. "I mean, you'd have to be out of your mind to think otherwise," was how one team official said it. The only lingering question is: Which one?

The Jets have had or will have had private meetings and workouts with all of the top four, and GM Mike Maccagnan has made the rounds at their Pro Days. When they traded up to No. 3 they were convinced that they'd be happy with choosing from whichever two (or three) fell to them. And obviously at least two of the Big Four -- USC's Sam Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield and Wyoming's Josh Allen -- will still be there...

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