Two days ago, the Jets signed wide receiver Eric Decker to a five years, $36.25m contract. Unlike most of the recent acquisitions by the Jets, Decker is pretty well known. However, I've been reviewing footage from his career so far to assess what he brings to the table.

The 6'3", 214-pound Decker - who turns 27 today - was a third round pick of the Denver Broncos who has been in the league for four years. After catching a total of 50 passes in his first two seasons, he has been one of the more productive receivers in the league over the past two seasons. He has had two 1,000-yard receiving seasons in a row, catching over 80 passes in each season and scoring a total of 24 touchdowns.

After the jump, observations from reviewing footage from Decker's career so far to evaluate his strengths and weaknesses.

Who is Eric Decker?

Decker went to college at Minnesota, where he developed into one of the top receivers in the country with 84 catches for over 1,000 yards as a junior. While this was going on, he was also drafted by two Major League Baseball teams. Unfortunately, in his senior season, he suffered a season ending foot injury, cutting another promising season short after eight games.

That injury prevented Decker from working out at the scouting combine or Minnesota's pro day in 2010, hurting his draft stock. The Broncos still took him in the third round, even though his foot injury continued to bother him into the season. Denver were relatively deep at wide receiver, affording them the luxury of bringing him along slowly. He would end up his rookie season with just six catches. In 2011, Decker would catch 44 passes for 612 yards and eight touchdowns. The Broncos traded away their number one receiver, Brandon Lloyd, and reached the postseason with Tim Tebow at quarterback.

2012 signified the arrival of Peyton Manning and Decker's production took off. He caught 85 passes and scored 13 touchdowns in 2012 and then followed that up with 87 receptions and 11 touchdowns in 2013. He also set a career high with 1,288 receiving yards in 2013, over 200 more than in the previous season. He joins the Jets following a trip to the Super Bowl, where the Seahawks defeated the Broncos, holding him to one catch for six yards.

The numbers

Four seasons

62 games, 44 starts (plus six playoff games)

222 catches, 3,070 yards and 33 touchdowns (plus 14 catches for 195 yards in postseason)

61% catch rate

32 drops

One carry for one yard (and one for nine in postseason)

One pass attempt (incomplete)

13 tackles (seven on special teams, all in 2010)

Nine punt returns for 157 yards, including a 90-yard touchdown (plus four for 75 in postseason)

24 kickoff returns for a 25.3 yard average, including a long of 51 yards

Six fumbles, with three lost (two on special teams)

16 penalties (one on special teams)

Observations

Based on all the footage watched, here was what Decker brings to the table, divided into categories:

Measurables - Since Decker didn't work out before the draft, we don't have numbers for him, but he has very good size, his forty speed was estimated by NFL Draft Scout as 4.45 and he has certainly displayed good athleticism on the field. The only thing he did participate in at the combine (other than the weigh-in and interview process) was the Wonderlic test, where his score of 43 was the best of all players that year.

Usage - Decker is a full time player, who was in on almost 90% of the snaps last season with Denver for the 5th highest snap count for all NFL receivers during the regular season. Since they have Wes Welker, he doesn't need to line up in the slot very often. However, he still played 330 snaps in the slot in 2013 which was more than in the previous season. When lined up in the slot, he ended up catching 32 passes (at an 80% catch rate) for 350 yards and two touchdowns, so he was very productive there. The previous season he caught 23 of 25 targets when in the slot.

Decker also lined up five times in the backfield.

Deep threat - Decker caught 15 passes last year on balls thrown more than 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage (for 509 yards and five touchdowns). That came on just 25 attempts for a 60% catch rate. By comparison, Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes peaked at around 30% during their time here. Only one player (Desean Jackson) had more than 15 receptions on such throws, but his catch rate was less than 50%. Only two players with more than 10 such targets had a better catch rate than Decker. Of course, who was throwing the ball is a factor here (and something we'll revisit later on), but one of the two players with a better catch rate was Santonio Holmes (8 for 11) and Manning's overall percentage on such throws was just 46% so that doesn't completely explain his success.

For Decker, this did represent an significant improvement over his numbers for 2012, where he caught 34.8% of passes thrown more than 20 yards downfield. Not surprisingly, in 2011, it was even lower - 25.9%. Again, who was throwing him the ball is a factor here.

He did show an ability to get behind the defense, often taking advantage of defensive players biting on play fakes or double moves, but certainly capable of getting a step on his man.

Blocking - Decker has had some good success with blocking since entering the league. His PFF grades for run blocking have been positive in each of his four seasons in the league for a cumulative grade of +8.9 for run blocking and +9.9 for overall blocking. He ranked third in the NFL in 2011 when the Broncos had a more run-oriented offense and 11th last season.

The film backs this up. Decker brings effort and technique, but most of all just an imposing presence. He crashed down on a linebacker or defensive back from the outside effectively on a few plays, including one where he had his target flinching even before he lowered the boom. He was also competent at setting the edge and driving the cornerback out of the play on the outside or downfield. There's shades of Braylon Edwards in terms of how they use him, but unlike Edwards, it's rare that he lets his target get off his block or misses the target altogether. He also avoided any holding or illegal block calls. Good blocking seems to have quietly been one of the attributes the Jets have been placed a premium on for their receivers since Marty Mornhinweg arrived. David Nelson, Josh Cribbs, Greg Salas and Saalim Hakim all showed promise here. Decker could well be better than all of them.

Routes - In 2013, Decker exhibited the ability to run all of the routes in the route tree, apart from a deep corner route. That might just be a Peyton Manning issue, because it seems that isn't a throw he's attempting very often at this stage of his career. There was a pretty even split between each of the different routes and the success he had running each. In terms of double moves, one route he used to good effect was a hitch and go, which saw him earn a couple of penalties and a first down.

On one play against the Saints, he ran a sharp in-out route that caused the cornerback to lose his balance and fall over, leading to an easy touchdown. He is also able to use his size over the middle and downfield to create natural separation.

Hands - Decker has averaged over 10 drops per game season over the last three year, which is obviously disappointing. However, we need to re-calibrate the scale slightly here, because usually when I'm scouting receivers the Jets have signed, they've been role players rather than targeted over 100 times per season. We know Decker can catch the ball, because he's done it over 200 times in three years. This shows he's capable of production that the Jets desperately need. However, it's still worth analyzing these drops in more detail.

Decker actually had five drops in the first four games and then only four in the last 18, so you could say he got over these issues. However, looking at the nature of the drops, nearly all of them came as he had a defender draped all over him or had to dive for the ball. Only two were concentration drops, both on quick screen passes to the slot. Even on these, the pass was inaccurate, one being too high and the other too low. His worst drop was not on a pass, but on an onside kick, where he let the ball go through his hands and the other team recovered. Overall, his six fumbles are hopefully not a major cause for concern because he's had over 260 touches.

When he does catch the ball, Decker usually catches it cleanly and has good technique in terms of staying inbounds, keeping low passes from hitting the turf and using his body to bring the ball in while tightly covered. He can go up and high point the ball, catch it in a crowd and make diving receptions. One in particular saw him make a juggling one-handed grab for a touchdown against the Chiefs. On the basis of all this, I'd stop short of saying he has great hands, but they're at least good.

Decker has a 61% catch rate for his career, which is reasonably good, but it's been much better over the last two years. The results are skewed by 2011 where he only had a 46% catch rate with Tebow and Orton throwing him the ball. His catch rate did fall in 2013, though, dropping from 70% in 2012 to 63%. Looking at the numbers initially, you might have expected that Decker's increased yards per catch average (2013: 14.7 and 2012: 12.6) and lower catch rate could be due to him getting more downfield targets. However, somewhat bizarrely, he actually had a higher catch rate on deep balls and also caught more short passes close to the line of scrimmage. Instead it was on intermediate throws where his percentage suffered.

Yards after the catch - Along with his downfield catch percentage, the one area of statistical improvement Decker showed in 2013 was in terms of yards after the catch. He improved from 310 yards after the catch to 440 and improved his YAC per reception by over a yard to 4.6. That accounts for part of the increase in average yards per catch, although it's still only middle of the pack on a league-wide basis.

You might actually expect Decker to do more in this area, given his returning experience and his combination of speed and size. It would be nice to think that he's improving in this area, but it probably has as much to do with the fact that they threw him more short passes. He did break eight tackles - twice as many as in 2012. Then again, five of those came in an early season game against the Raiders. The screen pass is something Decker added to his arsenal in 2013, though, catching nine of 11 for 61 yards as opposed to just one of two for seven yards in 2012.

One impressive aspect is his physicality. There were several plays where he drove a defender for extra yardage, especially when trying to get into the end zone. I'd definitely say there were more shades of Edwards here.

Intelligence - As noted above, Decker had a sparkling Wonderlic score and has a reputation for being very smart. Despite all the complex audibles at the line, Manning's offenses have a tendency to be pretty simplistic with good execution being the key rather than smoke and mirrors. The Broncos, like the Colts before them, don't vary formations too often and usually run variations on a series of similar looking plays. However, Decker's intelligence should enable him to get to grips with Marty Mornhinweg's arguably more complex system and the emphasis on good execution is a good habit to be bringing with him.

Instincts - Everything I saw suggested Decker's instincts are good. He just looks like he knows what he's doing out there when you watch him closely. In particular, his open field running seemed to show he had a knack for seeing the field and using his blockers.

Special Teams - Decker returned kickoffs and played on kick coverage units as a rookie, to good effect, but hasn't done that since early in 2011. He has returned some punts, including this 90-yarder for a touchdown in 2011. However, he has actually only returned eight other punts in his NFL career and since he'd become a full time starter, it seemed his special teams days were over.

That's until the Broncos went back to him during the postseason, where he had 66 yards on three good returns against the Chargers (and one other return for nine yards later in the postseason). I don't know if the Jets will risk him in that role, but he does have that ability and maybe they will consider it for important games, like they did with Antonio Cromartie on the kick return unit.

Demeanor - Decker isn't as demonstrative as many receivers, although he plays hard, fights for yardage and shows emotion - but not too much emotion - whenever he makes a mistake or a big play.

Attitude - Again, I've seen nothing to suggest Decker has a poor attitude and everything I read on the subject seems positive.

Injuries - Obviously Decker's foot was an issue when he entered the league. He tore ligaments and required surgery. He hasn't missed a regular season game since his rookie season though. He did, however, injure his knee in the first round of the 2011 playoffs, missing the second round game. In 2012, he was listed on the injury report just twice (thigh, ankle), but he was banged up quite a bit in 2013, listed as probable 10 times with shoulder, knee, ankle, thigh and toe injuries.

The possible downside

The major reservation everyone has about this deal - one allayed somewhat by the fact his salary falls well short of the $10-12m annual salary some projected he would command - is that it's expected Decker won't maintain the same level of production he managed with Peyton Manning as his quarterback. While he's reportedly determined to prove he wasn't a product of Manning, we've seen players like Deion Branch, Santonio Holmes and Alvin Harper move from a team with an elite quarterback to a team without one with the result being a significant drop in production.

Some will point to Decker's eight touchdowns in a run-oriented offense in 2011 as a sign that he can still produce without an elite quarterback to throw him the ball. Initially, I had thought you could dispel this theory pretty easily, because the Tebow-led option offense was so run oriented that the defense would usually have nine in the box. Therefore, Decker would only need to beat single coverage or could get behind the defense solely due to the element of surprise actually throwing the ball downfield provided, as was the case on this play in the game where Tebow famously only completed two passes but still led the Broncos to a win.

However, a closer look at the breakdowns and some of the footage from early in the 2011 season shows that Decker was more productive earlier in the season with the clearly non-elite Orton leading a more conventional attack. In the first four games, Decker scored two touchdowns twice and had a 100-yard game and three games with at least five catches. Extrapolating those four games over a whole season suggests he was on course for 80 catches and over 1,000 yards. Therefore, it's actually possible he was going to put up big numbers and Tebow's insertion into the lineup hurt his production - which, given how often they ran the ball, stands to reason.

There's one other reservation you could have about this deal and that's the fact that the Jets have never really had any success from signing a free agent receiver coming from another team. Looking back over some of their past free agent mishaps, fans don't have fond memories of the likes of Art Monk, Jeff Graham, Justin McCareins and Derrick Mason. McCareins was actually traded for rather than a free agent signing, but fits in here because - like the others - he was a number two at best and the Jets were essentially just hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. The Decker signing is different from each of these though.

Monk was signed by the Jets long after his production had started to wane. He had two seasons with fewer than 50 catches after having averaged 74 in his previous four. Derrick Mason was also well past his prime. Although Mason had caught at least 60 passes and missed only a handful of games over the previous 10 seasons, he was 37 and not expected to be a starter. As it turned out, his downfall was much faster than Monk's and the Jets traded him away after a month of the regular season.

McCareins didn't have a bad first season with the Jets, but was too mistake prone to establish himself as a number one and he soon fell out of favor. This is again different to Decker because rather than being in his prime and establishing a high level of production, McCareins had just had one decent year and the Jets were hoping he would continue to emerge.

The closest comparison is Graham. He was 27 and coming off an 82 catch, 1,300 yard season (with the previous year not being too far behind). The thing about the Graham move is that while it is remembered as a disaster, there was a remarkable paucity of talent on those Rich Kotite teams and Graham's production wasn't actually that bad, he just wasn't able to single-handedly provide the veteran impact they needed. The Jets will be hoping that Decker will function as an integral part of the offense rather than being forced to try and carry it.

(Bonus Link: Here's an excellent article that touches on similar themes to those discussed above, reaching a similar conclusion.)

Conclusions

From what I've seen of Decker, he displayed the ability to do pretty much whatever you'd hope to see out of a receiver. He has size, speed, hands and route running ability, which he uses to produce in a variety of different plays. You've heard of quarterbacks that can "make all the throws"? I'd liken Decker to a wide receiver version of that - he can "run all the routes" and "make all the catches". The challenge is the same though - can he be consistent enough to continue making these contributions each week? Of course, a lot of that is going to come down to whoever is tasked with getting him the ball. Presumably this will be Geno Smith, at least in the short term and the hope will be that rather than Decker being brought down by Smith's inadequacies, he's going to help him to overcome them.

It remains difficult to project how close Decker can come to matching the kind of production he's managed over the past two seasons, but even if he falls short there's still a good chance he'll provide a significant upgrade over the next few years to hopefully justify the financial outlay.

Some stats from PFF were used in the completion of this article.

Tags: BGA, Bent Double

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)

There's a "mounting belief" among head coaches and general managers around the league that the Cleveland Browns will take Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft on Thursday night, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.

A report Wednesday from Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com indicated that the Browns could be deciding between Mayfield and Wyoming QB Josh Allen at No. 1.

The Browns had been linked most recently to USC QB Sam Darnold as their likely choice at No. 1, with Mayfield's name first thrown in the mix on Tuesday. Now, the Browns are reportedly "cooling" on Darnold...

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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

ARLINGTON, Tex. -- After months of rumors, reports and lies -- a lot of lies -- here is my final best guess about how the first 10 picks of the 2018 NFL draft are going to play out on Thursday night.

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Darnold talks Giants and Jets 00:01:27
Sam Darnold talks about meeting Eli Manning, his visits with the Giants and Jets and advice he received from fellow Trojan Mark Sanchez.

USC QB Sam Darnold didn't get to meet with Eli Manning during his visit with the Giants, but got to see plenty of Jets during his visit with them.

"I saw him from a distance and he was working, so I didn't want to bother him," Darnold said about Manning. "We had a chance to meet at the Manning Camp, which was awesome."

Regarding the Jets, Darnold said he got to see a bunch of players he was familiar with.

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UCLA QB Josh Rosen (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)
UCLA QB Josh Rosen (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

UCLA QB Josh Rosen, who is expected to be taken early in the first round during the NFL Draft on Thursday night, had fun with reporters who were asking him on Wednesday about the potential of being selected by the Jets at No. 3 or Giants at No. 2.

"You're trying to catch me," Rosen playfully told SNY's Ralph Vacchiano when asked about the media spotlight in New York.

Rosen also discussed his visits to the Jets and Giants. Hear his full comments below...

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Willie Colon picks Josh Rosen 00:01:03
SNY Jets Analyst Willie Colon thinks the Jets will select quarterback Josh Rosen with the third pick in the NFL Draft.

Former Jet and current SNY analyst Willie Colon thinks the Jets will tab UCLA QB Josh Rosen with the No. 3 pick in Thursday's NFL Draft in Dallas. 

"I think [GM Mike] Maccagnan is at the point where he's okay with a kid being an outward thinker -- that's the label, so to speak, with Rosen," Colon said Tuesday on The Jet Stream Podcast on SNY. "But I think he understands he's an extremely polished quarterback."

Along with Rosen, the Jets have been connected to Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, who SNY's Ralph Vacchiano and Peter Schrager of Fox Sports believes will be the Jets' pick. ...Click below to listen to the Jet Stream podcast with Colon, Schrager, and Jonas Schwartz...

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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)

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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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. 

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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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