In the wake of the Senior Bowl, here are some interesting notes for Jets fans who are turning their eyes from the regular season to the draft to enjoy. We will be releasing these in a series of installments over the next day or two so keep checking back for more Senior Bowl content with a Jets focus.
Mixed reviews on Noah Spence
No one seems to be in doubt of edge rusher Noah Spence's prowess on the field. He was the most explosive and dynamic player in Mobile at rushing the passer and looks to be on the border between the first and second rounds of the NFL Draft, but could go much higher according to NFL Media's Bucky Brooks. Spence was named to many lists of the Senior Bowl week winners and spent the week proving his mettle on the field and answering questions off of it about his issues with drug addiction, and maybe worse, the cover up he undertook while at Ohio State which saw him end up getting kicked off the team.
But how convincing were Spence's answers? Walter Football's Charlie Campbell wrote in his Thursday rumor report that "teams weren't impressed with how Spence answered their questions" regarding his past troubles. If teams are dubious about Spence's ability to stay clean, those teams who are already skeptical will be very interested in the results of his Combine drug test. Randy Gregory was a potential top 15 pick, but failed his drug test last year in Indianapolis and it cost him dearly.
As far as an on-field talent, Spence could be an incredible addition to the Jets roster, but teams will have to weigh his on-field heroics with whatever off-field antics might come along with it. Unless something drastic changes for Spence, I can't imagine the Jets using their 20th pick on a player like Spence who would be far too risky for the selection and unless another bombshell falls on him in the coming months there's not likely going to be a chance for the Jets to nab him in the second.
Kenneth Dixon bursting on the scene
Derrick Henry and Ezekiel Elliott are lauded as the top two running backs in this class, but with neither at the Senior Bowl, Louisiana Tech's Kenneth Dixon might be a name to keep an eye on over the next few months. Right now, Dixon is now garnering second- and third-round grades. TJB friend Josh Norris loves Dixon, and called him the only starting NFL caliber running back at the Senior Bowl this past week. ESPN's Dallas beat man Todd Archer thinks he'd be a great fit for the Cowboys. Dixon was voted the best RB in practice thanks to his speed, explosion and burst. PFF graded Dixon out well in terms of elusivity, route-running as a RB and breakaway plays. During his week in Mobile, Dixon was "getting open in one-on-one and team drills" and his "route-running appears to be very advanced for a running back." Rotoviz is slightly less optimistic about Dixon and the folks at RV will wait until they see Dixon's workout results in Indy; their concern is that Dixon might only be a brilliant mid-major player with backup potential in the pros.
Either way, if Dixon blows his Combine numbers out of the water, expect a jump on his draft status. Could the Jets use a player like Dixon? Absolutely and he might be a solid second or third round selection for the Jets.
Is Carson Wentz a legit NFL QB or just a shiny new NFL Draft toy?
For Jets fans who wished Carson Wentz might last to the 20th pick, it seems best to put that false hope squarely out of mind. Wentz was the darling of Mobile all week, faring well in practices and demonstrating the charisma and chip that NFL teams love to see from their quarterbacks. A good sign is that Wentz is repped by QB-whisperer agent Ryan Tollner, but who is this unknown quarterback from a border state? Wentz was barely recruited to play college ball and who know is on the inside track to become a top ten pick in the NFL Draft? It is fair to have some skepticism about whether he can become what everyone seems to expect him to be. Actually, it has come out this week that there might be more doubt than thought just a week ago. Some NFL execs are now weighing in in a backlash, saying that they would not draft him in the first round … but is this just a ploy by savvy front offices to get him to drop?
Regardless, it sounds like NFL scouts have been hip to Wentz for a while now. From Andrew Garda of SoE: "A lot of teams feel he can definitely [play] and [they] have known that for some time. For the most part, it seems like NFL outsiders are playing catch-up. The buzz centers not around whether Wentz will be a first-round pick … but whether he will go in the top 10 or even top five during April's NFL Draft."
It's hard to say just how the Jets feel about Wentz, but one would have to think that he could get a first-round grade from the Jets when their board finally lays out. For the Jets to acquire Wentz through the draft, it would have to take an unlikely draft day tumble, or the Jets will need to trade up to snag him. Some teams think that the Browns at the second pick is a distinct possibility for Wentz. From a sheer capital creation or capital destruction perspective, for the Jets to get in play I have to imagine it would be a combination of Wentz slipping down to around the 10th pick combined with the Jets trading up. In other words … don't hold your breath.