On-field work at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine gets underway today. For the New York Jets, an important opportunity lies ahead to gain more and more exposure to some of the 2023 NFL draft’s best prospects.
Entering this year’s draft, the Jets have some areas on their roster that must be addressed to put themselves in the playoffs. In their third offseason together, Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh need to put another strong haul together with their rookie class.
As positional drills start this afternoon, let’s take a look at 10 specific players worth keeping an eye on at this year’s Scouting Combine for the Jets.
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Players to watch for the New York Jets at the Scouting Combine:
1. Broderick Jones, OT:
The popular position for the Jets by most accounts with their top draft selection (13th overall) is an offensive tackle. In this class, the consensus top two tackles are Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski and Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. Unfortunately, however, there is a good chance both are off the board by the time the Jets pick.
After Skoronski and Johnson, the next best offensive tackle to most is Broderick Jones from Georgia. He will test on Sunday in Indianapolis.
Jones is a young prospect set to turn 22 in the middle of May. He spent all three of his college years at Georgia. Throughout his three-year tenure, though, he started just 19 games.
Due to his inexperience and youth, Jones is a bit of a raw prospect both physically and technically to some. However, all of the athletic upside is there, and he will probably test well with speed, agility, and explosion drills, which will all be worth monitoring.
2. Brian Branch, DB:
If the Jets want to go with a true luxury type of pick at 13, few prospects make more sense than Brian Branch, versatile defensive back from Alabama. Adding Branch alongside Sauce Gardner, DJ Reed, and Michael Carter II would be pretty exciting.
Branch spent all three of his college years at Alabama. He is a young 21-year-old prospect who will turn 22 in late October. In his three years of college, Branch gained tons of experience in the SEC no less, playing in 40 games.
He was as consistent as could be breaking up passes at the catch point, as Branch recorded nine passes defended every year. Also, he is coming off a year in which he posted 14 tackles for loss.
As noted, Branch’s positional flexibility, along with his intelligence, make him an appealing prospect. Knowing the Jets cornerback trio is set, Branch would likely fill in at safety for the Jets, where they do need much better production.
It will be fascinating to see how well Branch tests on Friday, specifically with his speed and quickness.
3. Anton Harrison, OT:
After Jones, the potential sleeper as of now for the Jets at 13, if they go tackle, is Anton Harrison from Oklahoma.
Harrison is a very young prospect who just turned 21 earlier this month. All three of his years in college were spent at Oklahoma. Over the course of his three years, Harrison gained quality experience, playing in 34 games.
Harrison has a solid frame with length as well. His traits athletically are average, but he has remarkable play strength. The big thing for Harrison to work on moving forward is his hand technique. His length and power in the passing game though give Harrison some enticing potential.
4. Joe Tippmann, iOL:
The Jets could be looking for a center in the second or third round of the 2023 NFL draft. Joe Tippmann from Wisconsin is arguably the best in the class.
Tippmann spent all four years of college at Wisconsin, where he started 22 games, all over the last two seasons. He is a young prospect who turns just 22 in late March.
What makes Tippmann such an intriguing prospect is his untapped athletic ability paired with very tall height that provides him with power at the point and strength to sustain. At the Scouting Combine, Tippmann should measure in at 6-foot-5 at least while showing off some impressive movement skills, possibly boosting his draft stock even more.
5. BJ Ojulari, EDGE:
With still some uncertainty on Carl Lawson’s future and knowing how much Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich love pass rushers, adding an edge defender in the first few rounds cannot be ruled out.
BJ Ojulari from LSU is one talented prospect that the Jets could possibly look to target with their second-round pick (43rd overall). He spent all three years of college at LSU, where he played in 34 games. Ojulari is a very young prospect who will turn just 21 in early April.
Physically, Ojulari has low center gravity and is able to win getting low dipping his shoulder. He has some impressive get-off and closing speed. Ojulari would be just another young and talented pass-rushing piece to this already great Jets defensive line.
6. Cedric Tillman, WR:
The Jets could be looking for some wide receiver help in the first few rounds of the draft. Particularly one with some size. When it comes to receivers who have imposing height, weight, and length in this class, Cedric Tillman is one of the best. He is listed at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds with over 34″ arms.
Tillman spent all five years of college at Tennessee. He is 22 and will turn 23 shortly before the draft. In college, Tillman played in 44 games. By far his best season, 2021, he posted 64 catches, 1,081 yards (16.9 per catch), and 12 touchdowns.
Tillman does offer some downfield, deep-threat ability. Particularly, he tracks the ball very well and uses his physical gifts and body control to his advantage to win contested catches. At the Combine, it will be interesting to see how well he runs to get an exact idea of his speed which will pair with his massive size.
7. Jack Campbell, LB:
The Jets have some unknowns at linebacker entering this offseason. If they look to add one in the mid-rounds of the draft, Jack Campbell from Iowa could be atop their board.
Campbell spent all four years of college at Iowa, where he played in 43 games. He was a starter the last two seasons, accumulating 27 total. Campbell will turn 23 in late August.
What makes Campbell such a promising prospect is his combination of size, around 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, with his ability to play in coverage. The big thing for him at the Combine will be how well he runs. Campbell is, however, a very physical and instinctual player.
8. A.T. Perry, WR:
After Quentin Johnston at the top, A.T. Perry is in the same ballpark as a prospect to Cedric Tillman when it comes to bigger wide receivers in this draft.
Perry spent all five years of college at Wake Forest, where he played in 43 games. In the last two seasons, Perry has gone off for over 70 catches, 1,000 yards, and 11 touchdowns each year. He is a bit older, though, turning 24 in late October.
Perry has tons of size, listed at 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, and over 33″ arms. All of these measurements will be confirmed this week. With these physical traits and ball skills, Perry has contested catch ability. Perry also happens to have some speed and offers a presence as a vertical threat.
9. Marvin Mims, WR:
Along with a possession receiver that offers size, the Jets could also use a true speedster who can run by the defense. One of the top options in the third to fourth round is Marvin Mims from Oklahoma.
Mims was at Oklahoma for all three of his years in college and played in 29 games. All three years, Mims had a reception go for over 60 yards. He averaged 22 yards per catch in 2021 and 26.3 in 2022. As a freshman, Mims recorded nine touchdowns. Mims is also a very young prospect who will turn just 21 in March.
It will be fun to see how fast Mims runs at the Combine, it could be in the 4.3 range. He has great quickness athletically as well, which he uses to win both before the catch as a route runner and after the catch to make defenders miss. Mims posted 34 20+ yards air receptions over the last three years, the second-most in college football. Of those 34 catches, 19 went for touchdowns. Mims could be the pure speed receiver down the field that the Jets passing game needs.
10: Israel Abanikanda, RB:
The final prospect here, Pittsburgh running back, Israel Abanikanda, was born and raised in Brooklyn. As a likely day-three prospect, Abanikanda could round out the Jets running back group in a depth role.
He spent his three-year college career at Pittsburgh and played in 30 games. Abanikanda is coming off a ridiculous season in which he had 1,431 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground. He also happens to be one of the youngest prospects in this draft, turning 21 in October.
Abanikanda has some size listed at 5-foot-11 and 215 pounds and runs with power. Probably his best trait, though is his blazing speed. Not only can he run, but Abanikanda has the patience and vision needed in the Jets’ zone running scheme to be the perfect fit.