I spent most of last offseason looking back at certain aspects of the Jets’ season by analyzing data compiled from all nineteen games, rather than watching film. For the next few weeks, I’m going to be revisiting some of the more interesting and relevant topics until free agency opens on March 13th. I will be revisiting as many different topics as possible, but welcome your suggestions or requests in the comments.

Back in July, I wrote about Dustin Keller’s 2010 production when he lined up as a wide receiver. This revealed some interesting trends and is of particular interest now, because people are speculating how the Jets will use Keller next season now that Tony Sparano is the offensive coordinator.

Let’s see if the trends identified in 2010 were repeated in 2011 and whether there was a move towards or away from using him in that role, before looking at his effectiveness to evaluate whether its something they should persevere with.

Once again, this article has used data exclusively provided to us from the guys at PFF. Our thanks, as ever, go out to them.

Introduction

Since the Jets hired Tony Sparano, there’s been plenty of speculation about how the Jets will use Dustin Keller in 2012. Sparano’s offenses have a reputation for using a tight end as a dual blocker/pass catcher and blocking is an area of Keller’s game that is still very much a work in progress. Is Sparano going to call on him to block more, change up his scheme to better suit Keller’s skill set or find a different way to use him? Alternatively, could he be a poor fit and therefore a candidate to be traded to another team?

With the Jets likely to see starting wide receiver Plaxico Burress leave in free agency, some have speculated that Keller could see more reps at the wide receiver position, so it’s definitely worth revisiting how he has performed from that position in that past.

2011, his fourth season in the league, saw Keller improve on his career bests for receptions and yardage, as well as yards per catch, and also saw him reduce his number of drops from 12 in 2010 to just four. His catch rate remained consistent: 60% for the third year in a row.

One major criticism levelled in equal parts at him and the coaching staff was the fact that he sometimes seemed to disappear from the gameplan, but they did a better job keeping him involved this year. He was quiet in weeks four and five (three catches for 19 yards) but otherwise was targeted at least four times in every game and had at least three catches or 35 yards.

For what it’s worth, PFF ranked Keller as the 7th worst run blocker in the league in 2011. However, he was 25th in terms of his rating as a pass catcher. He had a poor finish to the season though, with only one positively graded game in the second half of the year.

One other interesting point to note was that he stayed in to block 46 times (just under three times per game), surrendering just three pressures. Over the rest of his career, he had stayed in 52 times in 54 games (less than once a game), so that’s perhaps a sign their confidence in his blocking is growing.

I’ll again be looking at how much of his receiving production came when he was lined up as a receiver as opposed to an in-line tight end, using the same criteria as last year:

For the purposes of the article, I will separate the data from when he was split out wide from the data where he was lined up in the slot. Note: To be treated as being in the slot, it is irrelevant whether Keller was in a three-point stance. Instead, what I am looking for is that he lines up outside the defensive end’s outside shoulder and is therefore not in a position to block him.

Usage rates

First, let’s recap how often Keller was lined up as a wide receiver over the course of the 2010 season.

- Slot receiver: 241 snaps (25% of total)

- Split out wide: 48 snaps (4% of total)

If we just look at snaps where Keller ran a route on a pass play, these percentages increase.

- Slot receiver: 212 snaps (38% of all routes run)

- Split out wide: 37 snaps (7% of all routes run)

Now let’s see what 2011’s numbers looked like:

- Slot receiver: 271 snaps (30% of total)

- Split out wide: 38 snaps (4% of total)

Again looking at snaps where Keller ran a route on a pass play, these percentages increase.

- Slot receiver: 210 snaps (43% of all routes run)

- Split out wide: 29 snaps (6% of all routes run)

In 2011, when running a route, he was a wide receiver basically half the time, a slight increase on last year. It will be interesting to see if that accounts for half of his targets.

Unlike in 2010, his percentage of routes run as a receiver remained pretty uniform throughout the season, rarely falling below 25% or rising much beyond 50%. However, with Santonio Holmes' suspension and the injuries to Brad Smith and Jerricho Cotchery, it makes sense for his playing time at receiver to have fluctuated last year.

Keller’s 2011 Productivity

First, let’s revisit how the Jets fared in 2010 when they targeted Keller as a receiver, and compare this to when they threw to Keller when he was a tight end.

Tight End – 44-69-515yds, 4TD, 1 int

Wide Receiver – 25-46-294yds, 1TD, 2 ints

There wasn’t too much of a drop off here in terms of how he performed when he was lined up as a receiver. The yards per catch average was the same, although he caught 64% of the passes as a tight end and only 54% as a receiver.

Where it got really interesting was looking at the splits (just using data from when he was in the slot):

Before the Bye Week

- As a slot receiver: 1-6-9yds, 0TD, 1 int

- As a tight end: 22-33-310yds, 5TD, 0 int

At that point, his production had already slowed significantly, following a fast start over the first two and a half games. The Jets therefore adjusted to use him as a receiver more:

Week 8 to Week 13 (inclusive)

- As a slot receiver: 12-16-175yds, 0TD, 0 int

- As a tight end: 6-16-37yds, 0TD, 1 int

At the end of the season, teams adjusted to this and we end up seeing a more balanced split:

Week 14 onwards

- As a slot receiver: 9-21-79yds, 0 TD, 1 int

- As a tight end: 18-23-253yds, 0 TD, 0 int

Now let’s see how that compared with the results in 2011:

Tight End – 35-67-486yds, 3TD, 2 ints

Wide Receiver – 30-52-349yds, 2TD, 1 int

In 2011, the gap between how successful/productive he was as a tight end to how he did as a receiver narrowed significantly, perhaps continuing the trend that developed over the course of the previous season. He was actually more successful as a receiver than in 2011, but – perhaps somewhat alarmingly – less successful as a tight end.

It’s also interesting to note that the completion percentage as a WR (58%) was higher than when he was a tight end (52%). Not only is that surprising, it also reverses the trend from 2010. Average yards per catch was similar for both in 2010, but in 2011 it was – again, surprisingly – more when he was a tight end (13.9) than when he was a receiver (11.6). Even so, the QB rating when throwing to him as a receiver (82.9) was slightly higher than when he was a tight end (78.3).

Nearly all of those receiver numbers were achieved while he was in the slot. Three of the four passes thrown to him when he lined up out wide fell incomplete, but the one completion did go for a 34 yard gain. He also had an 18 yard catch from the half back position, which I have ignored in the above numbers.

It’s again interesting to look at the splits, but before we do, just to give these numbers some context, remember that Derrick Mason barely played in week five and then was gone, after which point Jeremy Kerley got most of the slot receiver reps. Also, Santonio Holmes played a lot more in the slot this season, but especially in the first three weeks where he was there almost 60% of the time (having been in the slot less than 10% of the time in 2010). Finally, we also need to factor in the fact that injuries caused Kerley to miss weeks 11 and 12 and the Jeff Cumberland injury in week three may also have had an impact on Keller’s role.

Let’s investigate how it broke down by breaking the season into four. Once again, I’m omitting the results from lining up out wide:

Week 1 to Week 4 (while Mason was still playing a key role)

- As a slot receiver: 9-12-132yds, 1TD, 0 int

- As a tight end: 9-18-129, 1TD, 1 int

As you can see, in the early part of the season, they had more success finding him from the slot. You’ll recall he did much of his damage in the Jags game over the middle. Let’s see what happened once they turned to Kerley and started reducing how often Holmes was in the slot:

Week 5 to Week 9 (inclusive)

- As a slot receiver: 4-5-32yds, 0TD, 0 int

- As a tight end: 6-13-109yds, 0TD, 1 int

Again Keller was efficient when they looked for him in the slot, but they still looked for him more when he was a tight end, where he did make some good yardage. As you can see they looked for him a lot more over the first four games than the next four:

Week 10 to Week 13 (inclusive)

- As a slot receiver: 7-16-75yds, 1TD, 1 int

- As a tight end: 6-11-61yds, 1TD, 0 int

Over these four games, it flipped the other way. He was looked for more as a slot receiver but was more efficient when they looked for him from the tight end position. These numbers may have been affected by the two come from behind wins they had over Buffalo and Washington, so they would have been running a lot of four wide sets that would have seen Keller in the slot more than usual. In fact, the other two games saw them trailing and trying to get back into the game late. Also, Kerley missed two of these four games injured:

Week 14 onwards

- As a slot receiver: 9-14-76yds, 0 TD, 0 int

- As a tight end: 13-21-153yds, 1 TD, 0 int

Here we return to the same sort of split between TE and WR targets we saw earlier in the year. Again the numbers are slightly skewed by the fact he was thrown to 18 times in the Giants game alone.

Jeff Cumberland

It’s a very small sample, but we can also give some consideration to how Cumberland was used last year. This can give us some clues as to how they might use him next year.

In week one, he was in for 18 snaps – nine as a tight end, one in the slot and eight out wide. He ran just six routes – none as a tight end, one from the slot and five from out wide, including one where he caught a 33 yard pass.

However, in week two, he was in for 24 snaps – 16 as a tight end, three in the slot and five out wide. This time, he ran eight routes, with one from out wide and the rest all from the tight end position.

In week three, he was only used as an in-line TE before suffering a season ending injury on his sixth snap. This shows how versatile he can be and how they can vary up how they use him to create mismatches, which they did successfully in each of the first two games.

Conclusions

It’s clear that against certain teams, Dustin Keller can line up in the slot and make plays. He was used slightly more in that role this year and increased his production and efficiency. At times when other receivers are unavailable due to injuries, Keller seems to be used to fill the void to an extent, but not as a direct replacement because he still carried out his role as a tight end in the Schottenheimer offense.

What I said last year about him not being the finished article still applies and with him having now played four years in the league, that’s disappointing, especially with the Jets in a situation where they’ll need to think about whether to retain him with his contract up at the end of this season. It was encouraging to see him reduce the number of drops last year, but his progress as a blocker has been very slow and he does seem to have lapses of concentration or struggle to get separation in certain matchups.

However, he has still been a productive weapon in the passing game and, although he’s not a typical Tony Sparano tight end, Sparano does get his tight ends involved in the passing game, so perhaps he will be able to get the best out of Keller, who should be especially motivated because it’s a contract year.

I think to look upon him as a potential replacement for a slot receiver – notwithstanding the fact that the Jets appear to have a promising young one in Jeremy Kerley – is a little misguided. When Keller plays in the slot, it’s often from a one back formation where there are three other receivers, so the personnel is no different from a normal three WR set – Keller has just moved off the line and into the slot. It’s not like he is taking reps away from another receiver very often, although his comfort level in that role does enable him to do that on occasion.

Therefore, I don’t think a full time conversion to slot receiver is ever going to happen, but these breakdowns show that he can be used effectively in that way, which means you perhaps don’t need as much depth at that position as some other teams. To be successful in 2012, Keller is still going to have to produce from the tight end position as well.

Next week on BGA Weekly: Grading TJ Conley’s season based on ANPP. Otherwise, keep those ideas coming!

Tags: BGA, Bent Double

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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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)

The Cleveland Browns could be deciding between Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield and Wyoming QB Josh Allen with the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday night's NFL Draft, reports Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.

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.

If the Browns are legitimately interested in Mayfield at No. 1 and take him, it would throw a wrench in the Jets' reported plan to tab Mayfield at No. 3.

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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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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)

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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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