Our friend, PFWA writer and fellow Jets fan Andrew Garda was on-hand for the Reese's Senior Bowl festivities this past week and shared some of his impressions of the players he saw while in Mobile, Alabama. If you enjoy this piece, be sure to see all the pieces he did last week for CSS Sports.
Now that I’ve had a few days to process the notes from last week, it’s time to put another year of Mobile in perspective.
Of course, the reality is that Senior Bowl week is merely one part of a process for any prospect. The Combine, Pro Days, individual team visits and of course above all else, game tape, are all part of the equation when figuring out whether or not a prospect is worth a team’s draft pick.
There are a lot of advantages to attending for both players and teams though, and more than a few players took advantage of the circumstances last week.
Here are some players to watch out for over the next few months.
It’s the sort of thing which may make Jets fans sad the team already has more than enough defensive ends (if there is such a thing for a Rex Ryan team). But do you know what the Jets do need?
As I wrote for CSSSports.com last weekend, Dee Ford had a tremendous week, capped by an MVP-worthy performance in Saturday’s game.
I also mentioned in it that he could be a fit at outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. The Jets could use the help in theirs. Quinton Coples is still a work in progress, Calvin Pace is coming to the end of his career and the Jets really could use the depth anyway.
The problem is that the Jets can’t spend an early round pick on a defensive player again. Amazing as his ability to move past blockers and pressure the quarterback is, the Jets need targets for Geno Smith.
Still, if the Jets were to add a receiver or a tight end (or both) in free agency, Ford could become someone fans will want to keep an eye on.
Gilmore was added to the Senior Bowl late but he did a great job in a short time, including catching five passes for 61yards and a touchdown in the game on Saturday.
While he’s not an elite tight end, Gilmore has the size and general athleticism to excel if given time to develop. The Jets only have one pick in the first round, so if they grab a receiver in the first, they’ll need to get a tight end later.
Gilmore has some nice upside as a mid-to-late round pick.
Jordan Matthews is another player I wrote about for CSSSPorts.com who might be attractive to the Jets. Expectations were high for Matthews coming into the week, but he was rather hit and miss.
While he showed tremendous hands and a willingness to fight for the ball while using his length and size to overpower defenders, he lacks the burst to create separation on deeper routes. If he can’t muscle his way past a defender at the line, he won’t be able to do it on longer routes.
That’s fine though, as long as the Jets utilize him as the red zone threat and chain mover his skills make him. Think of the Jets version of Anquan Boldin.
Evans is a bit inconsistent catching the ball, but he’s very smart and knows the game (Matt Waldman of The Rookie Scouting Portfolio has a great interview piece in which he talks to receivers about the position and Evans is impressive). He has good mix of size (6'1" and 204 pounds) and quickness for the NFL and received great coaching from Bruins wide receivers coach Eric Yarber, himself a former NFL wide out.
Most people have a late round grade on Evans but he could be a very nice value pick with upside for a Jets team in need of as many weapons as it can get its hands on.
Like most of the receivers in Mobile, Mike Davis had some issues holding onto the ball. Some of that blame is the lousy quarterback play by virtually everyone on his squad though, and Davis overall looked pretty good in most drills.
Despite some drops, Davis showed good hands overall throughout the week and is a very good route runner. He’s also a very good return man, something the Jets could use if they don’t keep Josh Cribbs around.
Davis is a third or fourth round guy right now and certainly worth the price.
While no running back will go in the first this year (and perhaps for years to come) due to the devaluation of the position, that doesn’t mean there aren’t very good running backs in the class.
Most analysts have given Sims had a third round grade so far, but it wouldn’t shock me if that changed and he crawled up boards.
Sims showed tremendous vision, cutting ability and very good speed in practice. He also caught the ball well out of the backfield and if he struggled a tad at times in pass protection, he showed enough to predict he can improve in that area.
While not a critical need, the Jets could use another back given the injury history Chris Ivory has and the up and down efforts of Bilal Powell (who is still a favorite of mine).
Andrew Garda is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association and fresh off another trip to the Senior Bowl. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at FootballGuys.com and the NFL writer at CheeseheadTV.com. You can follow him at @andrew_garda on Twitter.