During the offseason, I’ll be looking back at certain aspects of the Jets’ season by analyzing data compiled from all nineteen games, rather than watching film. I will be tackling as many diverse topics as possible, but welcome your suggestions or requests in the comments.

In analyzing the way the Jets' season ended, one of the most eye-opening statistics all season involved missed tackles, as the Jets - by my count - missed 14 against the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game. Even more revealing was the fact that they missed 13 in the first half - as they fell into a 24 point hole - and only one in the second half, as they battled back within one score.

Undeniably, missed tackles were a big factor in that game, which ultimately decided the fate of the 2010 Jets. However, were missed tackles a key issue during the season? How did the 2010 Jets compare with the other teams in the league and other Jets teams from recent seasons? Is there any correlation between the teams that don't miss a lot of tackles and the best teams in the league - and are the worst teams those ones that miss a lot of tackles? Finally, who were the most and least reliable tacklers on the Jets last season?

After the jump, I look at the data and investigate the above issues to try to determine how much of a difference it would make if the Jets performed better in this area.

Tackling the Data

In much the same way as they do not track dropped catches, the NFL does not keep track of missed tackles, presumably because they consider it too difficult to accurately determine when a tackle has been missed. Whenever I have been asked to look at missed tackles, I will count anything where the would-be tackler has the ball carrier lined up with an unimpeded opportunity to make the stop, or momentarily has them within their grasp. For the purposes of this analysis, I have used missed tackle statistics from ProFootballFocus.com in this article, to ensure I am working with an unbiased data set with the type of play that constitutes a missed tackle consistently defined.

Although this is an inexact science, at least it gives us a set of data that we can trust to be sufficiently accurate for the purposes of making comparisons. Note that I have ignored missed tackles on special teams or by offensive players following turnovers.

2010 Jets Analysis

We know the Jets had a strong defense in 2010. Was this because they tackled consistently, or could improved tackling have actually made the defense even more impenetrable?

Looking at the raw data, the Jets missed an average of 4.8 tackles per game. Is there a strong correlation between missed tackles and how the team performed though? Looking at the eight missed tackles in the 45-3 loss to New England and the one missed tackle in the 17-16 wild card win over Indianapolis, one might be forgiven for thinking that was the case. However, they had 11 in the Divisional Playoff win over the Patriots and only four in each of the two midseason games where the Browns and Lions took them into overtime.

4.8 missed tackles per game has the Jets ranked 11th best in the NFL in terms of not missing tackles. This tells us that there perhaps is some room for improvement, but that they are not too far off the pace of most of the teams in the league. All but seven teams had between 4.0 and 6.0 missed tackles per game.

So, is it the better teams that tend not to miss tackles? Actually, only four of the top ten made the playoffs. These included the Ravens, Bears and Steelers, three of the more respected defenses in the league, but the highest ranked playoff team was actually New England. The Patriots were only fourth in the league though, as three non-playoff teams missed fewer tackles per game than everybody else - Denver, Oakland and Dallas.

Is it possible to rationalize this? One theory I had was that these were teams that seemed to give up a lot of long plays. So, where the Jets might give up a touchdown on an eighteen play drive where they missed five tackles, as happened against the Steelers, these teams were giving up yardage to wide open receivers and offenses were not having to rely on someone avoiding or breaking a tackle to get the ball downfield on them.

Can a team that misses a lot of tackles still be successful, then? Looking further down the rankings, four of the bottom eight teams in terms of missed tackles did make the postseason, although all four were ousted in the first round.

The Cold Harsh Truth

In analyzing the data, I've taken postseason games into account, but this may not be fair to postseason teams. Anecdotally, missed tackles increase at the end of the season, with the weather getting colder and the statistics seem to bear this out. It's therefore likely that most of those playoff teams slid down the ranking by having me include the data from one (or more) extra cold weather game.

In fact, if you take out the last two postseason games - since the first one was in a dome anyway - the Jets would improve their position and end up tied with the Patriots in 4th place in the NFL.

One interesting pattern I noticed was this: Out of the six teams who missed the most tackles per game, only the Titans play their home games outdoors. The other five all play in a dome. Initially, you might think that this disproves the cold weather leading to more missed tackles theory, but when you think about it, it's perhaps more likely to mean that teams that are used to playing in domes struggle to adjust to playing outdoors more than the rest of the teams in the NFL. Sure enough, the bottom team in the league - Detroit - missed only 40 tackles at home but 67 tackles on the road. For the record, the other three dome (or retractable roof stadium) teams were 9th, 13th and 23rd and none made the postseason.

Comparing With Previous Years

Last season, the Jets missed 4.7 tackles per game, so there was hardly any difference between 2009 and 2010. However, if we go back to 2008 - the Mangini era - the Jets only missed 3.2 tackles per game, which would have placed them 2nd in the league in 2010.

Mangini preached discipline, but his defenses were nowhere near as successful statistically as the defenses have been for the last two years under Rex Ryan. Here's where the total number of missed tackles can be a misnomer. The weakness of those Jets teams under Mangini was their soft underbelly. Even jouneymen quarterbacks and over-the-hill receivers were able to pick up consistent yardage every time underneath, so teams were able to move the chains without the need to break too many tackles. Also, while they may have tackled at a better rate, this doesn't mean that they didn't give up a lot of yards after contact. In fact, in 2010, the Jets gave up slightly fewer yards per carry after contact that they did in 2008, despite the increased numbers of tackles that were missed.

2010 Individual Analysis

In terms of total missed tackles, the Jets "leaders" were as follows:

David Harris - 11

Drew Coleman - 9

Eric Smith - 8

Brodney Pool - 7

Calvin Pace - 6

Jason Taylor/Kyle Wilson - 5 each

Everybody else - 4 or less

Of course, this doesn't account for the fact that Harris is in on nearly every play, whereas someone like Kyle Wilson does not play much. Perhaps, therefore, it is more revealing to look at what percentage of potential tackles have been made. If someone made six tackles, but missed two, their tackle rate would be 75%. There are the players with the lowest tackle rate (ignoring anyone who played less than 300 snaps):

Wilson - 77.3%

Coleman - 81.6%

Dwight Lowery - 83.3%

Taylor - 86.5%

Smith - 88.2%

Pool - 88.3%

The first thing we notice is that most of these are defensive backs. That stands to reason, because they will have to make open field tackles more often, sometimes against bigger players, so it is perhaps better to look at the position groupings separately.

Defensive Backs

Continuing on with the defensive backs, then, we can see how those that struggled fared compared with the other defensive backs on the team:

Jim Leonhard - 93.1%

Darrelle Revis - 92.9%

Antonio Cromartie - 91.1%

Leonhard is a particularly interesting case study, as we can see from an article PFF did on 2009 tackle efficiency for safeties:

Jim Leonhard['s] TIR of 19.05 was seventh-worst in the list. Many Jets fans will point out that Leonhard played much of the year with a broken thumb, and a protective cast on his hand, and while this is true (three of his misses can be attributed to his first game playing with that cast), more than half of his misses came when he was fully healthy before any injury. And only two came after that first game back with the cast on his hand.


Leonhard's obvious improvements in this area may surprise those who felt he underperformed this season, but the high tackle rate for Antonio Cromartie - who has a reputation for being a bad tackler - is likely to be an even bigger surprise. Sure enough, last year he was not very efficient and was again mentioned by PFF when they looked at cornerbacks:

Recent Jets acquisition Antonio Cromartie has often had a reputation as a player who isn’t as keen on tackling as maybe he should be, and he finds himself just outside the bottom ten with a 16.22 TIR.


Cromartie's improvements don't necessarily represent that he has improved as a tackler, but could instead be indicitative that he has been coached to approach tackling conservatively and make sure the ball carrier doesn't get beyond him, even if that means he is able to pick up extra yards as Cromartie focuses on staying in front of him rather than aggressively trying to meet the runner as early as possible and risking a missed tackle.

The reason I suggest this is that Kerry Rhodes went completely the other way when he left the Jets. Rhodes has a similar reputation for not being a good tackler, and yet he posted similar efficiency numbers to Cromartie in his last year as a Jet. PFF also noted this:

Much has been made recently about the play of Kerry Rhodes and his tackling. Although this list doesn’t pretend to account for occasions where a player simply shies away from the tackling attempt, it shows that when Rhodes attempted a tackle, the new Cardinals safety was reasonably efficient at making it stick. His TIR of 9.09 was good enough to rank him inside the best 25 safeties on the season.


Although Rhodes sometimes threw his shoulder at a ball carrier rather than making a form tackle and often looked tentative and/or was dragged for extra yardage as he approached a ball carrier in the open field, the number of occasions he actually let his guy get away from him was surprisingly low. Contrast that with this season, where he gambled a lot more and ended up with the 3nd most missed tackles in the entire NFL - not just for safeties - and you can see why I might suggest that there's a difference in the way he's being coached or at least in how he has decided to approach the game. He was more statistically productive too, so his tackle rate was just outside the bottom ten, but that's still a huge drop-off from last year.

One final point on the defensive backs, it's obvious that the Jets have coached their defensive backs to try and strip the ball when making a downfield tackle or one where they are second on the scene. This is why you will often see guys like Darrelle Revis stay on their feet and fish for the ball rather than making a physical stop on their man. This paid dividends several times during the season, with Drew Coleman perhaps partially making up for his nine missed tackles with six forced fumbles, a couple of which came after big plays, including a vital one against the Browns.

For the record, 40 NFL defensive backs were in double figures in terms of missed tackles in 2010, so no Jet made that list, although Coleman was close and Smith and Pool were not far behind.

Let's now consider how many yards were gained on plays where defensive backs missed tackles. Again, this is an inexact science, because I do not have enough information to determine how many extra yards were gained because of the missed tackle. However, it does enable us to compare which players were involved in some of the more costly plays. You would expect the yardage gained to be higher than for linebackers and linemen, since a lot of the tackle attempts would be made downfield.

Where two or more players missed a tackle on the same play, I have split the yardage equally between them. I have only looked at guys with at least four missed tackles.

Cromartie - 23.0 yards per play

Pool - 18.6 yards per play

Lowery - 17.0 yards per play

Coleman - 16.3 yards per play

Smith - 12.0 yards per play

Leonhard - 10.8 yards per play

Wilson - 8.4 yards per play

Notably, although Wilson had the lowest tackle rate, four of his five missed tackles were on plays that gained less than 10 yards, so he did not make any really costly mistakes with his tackling. The relative numbers do seem to correlate strongly with how close you might usually expect each of these players to play to the line of scrimmage. Dwight Lowery's average would have been 21.2 yards per play, but there was a 38 yarder that was negated by an illegal motion penalty.

Although nobody's stats are too bad, there is room for improvement and we can look back to the last couple of seasons to see whose performance improved or declined.

- As noted, Leonhard and Cromartie made big improvements on last year.

- Revis' tackle rate has consistently been in the low 90's in each of the last three seasons.

- Lowery was in the low 90's in each of the last two seasons, but dropped to the low 80's this year, although that was perhaps not unexpected with the move to safety.

- Coleman is consistently in the 80-85% range, which is slightly disappointing. Despite the forced fumbles, he does seem to miss a few too many tackles and in 2010, he also missed four on special teams.

Linebackers

Let's look at the tackle rates for the five main Jets linebackers in 2010:

Bryan Thomas - 98.2%

Bart Scott - 94.5%

David Harris - 90.0%

Calvin Pace - 89.7%

Jason Taylor - 86.5%

For Thomas, this was his second highly efficient season in a row in terms of his tackling. He was tenth in the league last year with a 96.3% tackle rate and actually improved on that. He is one of just a few players who is missing fewer tackles than he did in the final year under Mangini, where he was only just over 90%. Taylor, on the other hand, posted a tackle rate that would have placed him just outside the bottom ten last year. Calvin Pace, you may be surprised to learn, was a much less efficient tackler last year (below 85%), but was very efficient in the last year under Mangini (over 95%), so he seems to have found a happy medium. Bart Scott improved slightly over last year and David Harris posted similar numbers, but it is interesting to note that in 2008, Harris led the team at 98.2% (only one missed tackle) playing a role similar to Scott's current role, where he took on more blockers and was less statistically productive.

Let's look at how costly these missed tackles were:

Harris - 13.5 yards per play

Taylor - 7.6 yards per play

Pace - 6.1 yards per play

Scott - 6.0 yards per play

As you can see, if Harris misses a tackle, this tends to be more costly than if any of the other linebackers does. In fact, he's often the one to show up and limit the damage if another linebacker happens to miss. The Jets defense is designed in such a way that Harris is often in space and making a crucial tackle. Usually he does this, but on the 11 occasions he couldn't, nine of those plays went for 10 or more yards. For me, this underlines his importance and the Jets should be very wary of downgrading even slightly at this position. (Note: In 65 snaps in relief of Harris over the last two years, Ryan Fowler and Josh Mauga have three missed tackles and a 40% tackle rate. Try extrapolating that over a whole season!)

Bryan Thomas is not considered due to having fewer than four missed tackles on the year.

For more discussion on Bart Scott and missed tackles, re-read my BGA Extra on the AFC Title Game, where I dispute Rich Cimini's assertion that this was his worst game.

Although the missed tackle numbers across the board are not bad for the linebackers, that doesn't account for when a player has been blocked out of a play. For Pace and Thomas in particular, this seemed to be an area where they regressed in 2010. If anything, Harris did a better job of avoiding that this year.

For the record, 11 inside linebackers were in double figures for missed tackles and 14 led the league. In terms of 3-4 OLB's, only six had six or more and eight led the league.

Defensive Linemen

Missed tackles are not generally a big issue for defensive linemen, especially when you have a three man front, which practically guarantees that each lineman will be engaged with a blocker.

However, the Jets did have some costly missed tackles from their linemen in the postseason.

In fact, Mike DeVito, Trevor Pryce, Sione Pouha and Shaun Ellis combined for seven missed tackles in the last two postseason games, after having had just seven between them in the first 17 games of the year.

DeVito was the only one with more than four and the total damage on the five plays where he missed a tackle was just 11 yards. However, Pryce and Pouha did give up 29 costly yards against the Steelers with two missed tackles each - despite entering the game with just one each.

Here were the tackle rates:

Pouha - 94.1%

Ellis - 91.7%

DeVito - 90.6%

These were the only three that played more than 300 snaps. All three posted similar tackle rates over the last two years.

For the record, there were only six 3-4 linemen with five or more missed tackles and seven led the league.

Conclusions

On its own, the number of missed tackles can be a very misleading statistic, but - given the correct context - it does allow us to investigate certain trends. Clearly the Jets are a team that does a good job of getting its defensive playmakers into a position where they can stop a play, which might lead to them being credited with more missed tackles than certain other teams, despite being more effective overall.

The team had games where they were able to overcome a lot of missed tackles and still win, but equally there were times when missed tackles were the main reason for their undoing. While there is always room for improvement, notably with certain individuals, the Jets as a team did a solid job of tackling for most of the year, compared to the rest of the league, so if they want the defense to improve, they will probably see more dramatic results from focusing on other areas, such as improving their depth and bolstering the pass rush.

As ever, I welcome any submissions for what you would like me to cover next week.

Tags: BGA, Main Page, Bent Double

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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Jonas Schwartz and Willie Colon take their deepest dive yet into the NFL Draft. They discuss the latest with the four quarterbacks, as well as look back at Willie's draft process with the Steelers in 2006. Later, Brian Costello of the New York Post joins the show to give his take on the draft and the possibility of Mike Maccagnan signing defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins.

Click below to listen

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New York Jets quarterback Josh McCown (15) gestures after thrown a touchdown pass to wide receiver Robby Anderson, not pictured, during the second half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun/AP)
New York Jets quarterback Josh McCown (15) gestures after thrown a touchdown pass to wide receiver Robby Anderson, not pictured, during the second half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun/AP)

The Jets' preseason schedule has been officially released for the 2018 season. 

The Falcons will be Gang Green's first opponent of the new year on their home turf. Then, they will hit the road to face the Redskins on Aug. 16 at 8 p.m.

The annual Snoopy Bowl at MetLife Stadium between the Jets and Giants will be the Week 3 matchup, with the Jets getting home field advantage.

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Top QB prospect Josh Rosen 00:01:13
Former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is expected to be taken as one of the top QB's in the 2018 NFL Draft.

In his latest mock draft, ESPN's Mel Kiper sees the Jets grabbing UCLA QB Josh Rosen with their third overall pick -- as SNY's Ralph Vacchiano projects in his Mini Mock Draft 3.0. 

The Jets clearly traded up to the No. 3 slot to take one of the highly touted quarterbacks. With Wyoming's Josh Allen and USC's Sam Darnold going to the Browns and Giants respectively, Rosen appears the best option for the Jets in Kiper's mind. 

CLICK BELOW TO READ KIPER'S ANALYSIS

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Oct 22, 2017; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets tight end Eric Tomlinson (83) hurdles Miami Dolphins strong safety Nate Allen (29) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)
Oct 22, 2017; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets tight end Eric Tomlinson (83) hurdles Miami Dolphins strong safety Nate Allen (29) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)

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Having opted to let Austin Seferain-Jenkins leave in free agency, the Jets are relying on a group of young tight ends to replace his production, recently adding two more options to the mix.

It's possible the Jets could look to add to the group via the draft but, for now, let's consider what each of the tight ends currently on the roster brings to the table, and consider how they might be used in 2018...

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Top QB prospect Josh Rosen 00:01:13
Former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is expected to be taken as one of the top QB's in the 2018 NFL Draft.

With the NFL Draft a little over two weeks away, the Jets continue to get their last live look at the top prospects they could select with their third overall pick. 

After Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield wraps up his private workout with the Jets Tuesday, UCLA QB Josh Rosen will visit the team, per SNY's Ralph Vacchiano.

After Rosen's visit, USC QB Sam Darnold is expected to be next on the list at some point later this week. Wyoming QB Josh Allen is also expected to visit at a later date.

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 (Aaron Doster)
(Aaron Doster)

The Jets continue to bolster their defense with another addition at the second tier in vetearn LB Kevin Minter, the team announced Monday. 

Minter most recently played for the Bengals in 2017, where he tallied 32 tackles in nine games. 

He was a second round draft pick by the Cardinals back in 2013, and he would spend four seasons in Arizona before heading to Cincinnati. He totaled 175 tackles, five sacks, one forced fumble, and six passes defended over 61 games (37 starts). 

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Dec 1, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Charles Johnson (12) runs after the catch in the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Rempel)
Dec 1, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Charles Johnson (12) runs after the catch in the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Rempel)

The Jets continue to stack their wide receiving corps for next season as former Vikings WR Charles Johnson signed a deal with the team on Monday. 

Johnson, who was waived by the Panthers in July 2017, sat out all last season due to surgery on his right knee. He played for the Vikings from 2014-16, where he totaled 60 receptions for 834 yards and two touchdowns over 39 games. 

The Grand Valley State product was a Packers' seventh-rounder back in 2013, and after joinging the team's practice squad following camp that year, the Brown picked him up to join their 53-man squad. He dressed but never saw action with the Browns. 

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The Jets' free agency strategy 00:12:52
The Jets Nation panel analyzes the Jets' recent free-agent additions, including former Vikings franchise quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Here is the most up-to-date information on whom the Jets have added and lost during free agency, including contract details and salary cap information. Be sure to bookmark this page and check back for frequent updates.

JETS SALARY CAP SPACE

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Dec 27, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes running back Akrum Wadley (25) rushes against Boston College Eagles defensive tackle Noa Merritt (94) during the second half of the 2017 Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Dec 27, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes running back Akrum Wadley (25) rushes against Boston College Eagles defensive tackle Noa Merritt (94) during the second half of the 2017 Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

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While the Jets are reportedly hosting Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen for official Draft visits this week, we've also been keeping an eye on who else is reportedly scheduled to attend. Last year, both Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye took official visits before being selected with the Jets' top two picks.

Aside from the quarterbacks, most of this year's names that have leaked so far would be players the Jets might be hoping will drop to day three of the draft or maybe even be available as a priority free agent if they go undrafted. Let's look at some of the more interesting prospects...

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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)

With the NFL Draft just 17 days away, Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield is scheduled to meet with the Jets in Florham Park on Monday and Tuesday, according to multiple reports.

The Jets have already met with Mayfield on multiple occasons -- including at the Senior Bowl and Scouting Combine -- and the team held a private workout with him. 

The 22-year-old Mayfield, who is expected to be selected early in the first round, threw 119 touchdowns in three seasons with Oklahoma and capped it off by throwing 43 touchdowns and six interceptions in 2017 when he started a career-high 14 games...

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New York Jets running back Bilal Powell is pursued by Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Isaac Rochell on a 57-yard touchdown run in the third quarter during an NFL football game at MetLife Stadium. (Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets running back Bilal Powell is pursued by Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Isaac Rochell on a 57-yard touchdown run in the third quarter during an NFL football game at MetLife Stadium. (Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

Despite the retirement of Matt Forte, the Jets have bolstered their depth in the offensive backfield with a couple of veteran additions. Let's give consideration to what each back brings to the table and how they might find a niche in the Jets' offense this season.

Bilal Powell...

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Sep 10, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Indianapolis Colts nose tackle Al Woods (99) and Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (95) wait to take the field before the Colts game with the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports (Robert Hanashiro)
Sep 10, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Indianapolis Colts nose tackle Al Woods (99) and Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (95) wait to take the field before the Colts game with the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports (Robert Hanashiro)

Free agent DT Johnathan Hankins visited the Jets on Thursday, reports Dan Graziano of ESPN. Hankins, who was cut by the Colts earlier this offseason, has also visited the Redskins.

After spending the first four seasons of his career with the Giants, Hankins agreed to a four-your deal with the Colts worth $30 million, with $14.5 million guaranteed. 

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: The Jets were obviously looking for an upgrade at defensive tackle when they made their brief -- and ill-advised -- pursuit of Ndamukong Suh. Thankfully, they pulled the plug on that before it happened. Johnathan Hankins could turn out to be a much better fit...

Tags: Johnathan Hankins
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