Tim Tebow is reportedly back in the NFL, and that’s perfectly fine

new york jets, tim tebow

Questions can be raised about Tim Tebow’s NFL comeback, but it’s fair to give him one last chance in a new role.

Tim Tebow more than likely won’t be getting a video tribute on the MetLife Stadium videoboards this fall. It remains to be seen whether Tebow will be on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 53-man roster when Duval County’s finest hit the road to battle the New York Jets. For now, however, it appears that the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, two-time college football national champion, and overall accoladed quarterback will spend at least a little time in teal and back.

Reports from Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reveal that the 33-year-old Tebow will attempt to resume an NFL career that fizzled out in 2015. Tebow reunites with his college coach Urban Meyer, the two previously having united for collegiate fireworks at the University of Florida, but plans to move to tight end while 2021’s top overall pick Trevor Lawrence assumes the franchise quarterback role.

Tebow has not partaken in a regular season football game since December 2012, when he played a single drive in an ugly showdown with the Jake Locker-led Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football. The 14-10 slog is perhaps best known for five Mark Sanchez turnovers and eliminating the Jets from playoff contention.

Tebow’s reported rearrival has sent shockwaves at a rare dull period on the football timeline. Per ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, “not everybody (in Jacksonville’s building is thrilled” about the potential Tebow deal. The debate has amongst observers and analysts.

Some are interested to see what Tebow can do at tight end, a transition that has been debated ever since Tebow was preparing for the 2010 draft. Others have had their fill of Tebow, including New York sports fans who have now seen him invade both their football and baseball circles, as Tebow’s new NFL beginning stems from the end of a minor league baseball career in the New York Mets’ system. More observers wonder why Tebow has been invited back to the NFL while another polarizing quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, has not.

One can fully wonder why Tebow, whose last official football action is a 2015 training camp stint in Philadelphia, was invited back. A common argument against the reinsertion of Kaepernick, having moved onto activism and a partnership with Nike, is that it would cause too much of a media frenzy, though Tebow’s signing has caused quite a stir as is…even without an official announcement from the Jaguars. These are all fair questions to ask, debates to be staged.

But when it comes to Tebow the individual, it’s fair to grant him what likely amounts to a final professional football opportunity.

For one thing, a regular season roster spot is anything but guaranteed. Jacksonville is currently equipped with five tight ends, including fellow two-sport star and former Carolina Panther Chris Manhertz (previously a three-year captain with Canisius’ basketball team), fifth-round pick Luke Farrell, and veteran re-signee James O’Shaughnessy. Tebow’s going to need to earn his way onto the Week 1 roster, and it’s an uphill battle in a role he has never played.

Succeeding in unfamiliar roles has been something Tebow had gotten used to during his baseball career. It’s fair to say that Tebow was never destined for Queens, but he managed to put up respectable numbers, particularly at the AA level in 2018 (.273, 6 home runs, 36 runs batted in). Those numbers could’ve been well inflated by the end of the year (on a roster that included current Mets slugger Pete Alonso) had Tebow not suffered a season-ending finger injury.

Those numbers did plummet once Tebow moved onto the AAA level. His most recent baseball travels…time in the Mets’ shortened spring training proceedings…weren’t pretty (.154, six strikeouts in 18 plate appearances), but he did manage to go out on a relatively high note, hitting a home run off MLB veteran Alex Wilson in a spring training tilt against the Detroit Tigers.

One could argue whether Tebow was used as a sideshow of sorts, a cog in the “Same Old Mets” machine. But the baseball player that hadn’t played competitively since 2005…his junior year of high school…made it clear to his observers that he was serious about this trial, no matter the challenges thrust upon him.

“What he’s doing and the strides I’ve seen him make from last year to this year, that’s impressive,” then-Binghamton pitching coach and 1988 Cy Young Award winner Frank Viola told Rob Centorani of The Press & Sun-Bulletin in 2018. “He doesn’t have to do this, but he chose to do it and he’s working as hard as anyone, if not harder. It’s a great story but very difficult.

“There’s so much instinctual stuff from baseball that you learn as a kid all the way up. When you take a hiatus like he did, it’s hard. He’s 30 years old, but he’s still trying to learn.”

Adding to Tebow’s current football cause, and why it shouldn’t matter on a broader NFL landscape, is that Jacksonville is a team with relatively little to lose. They’ve chosen in the top ten in all but one of the past 14 NFL Drafts, their one shining moment being a “stolen” Super Bowl appearance in 2017. If Lawrence doesn’t pan out, he simply lands in the same category as other false throwing saviors like Blake Bortles or Blaine Gabbert.

In other words, it’s the perfect place for Tebow.

Unlike his arrival to a Jets team on the decline in 2012, one mired with questions at quarterback at the end of the Sanchez era. That Jets squad was one tailor-made for the rise of the social media era, one packed to the brim with personalities, none more boisterous than their head coach Rex Ryan. It was there Tebow resided while at the height of his professional powers.

Tebow, of course, was coming off a year as the Denver Broncos’ primary quarterback after they chose him 25th overall in the 2010 selections. His box scores weren’t always pretty and he had the services of a budding defense featuring future Super Bowl champions like rookie Von Miller. He did however often manage to work with what the defense gave him and contribute to the final score in the process. That trend was prominently on display in a November win over Kansas City, when Tebow completed only 2-of-8 passes in a 17-10 triumph over the Chiefs. He was nonetheless responsible for two Denver scores, running in a seven-yard score before hooking up with Eric Decker for a 56-yard de facto winner in the fourth quarter.

Yet, Tebowmania grew through a series of uncanny, unconventional fourth quarter comebacks, one of which was achieved in a Thursday night thriller against the Jets. A jaw-dropping 95-yard scoring drive to end a nationally televised tilt served as Tebowmania’s outbreak and fueled Denver to the AFC West title. The Broncos even earned a playoff win over Pittsburgh…one that ended with Tebow finding Demaryius Thomas for an 80-yard overtime score…before the New England Patriots did New England Patriots things in the Divisional round.

That season should’ve proven that Tebow had the skill and talent to serve as a capable, serviceable quarterback in the NFL…a Chad Pennington/David Garrard type. But when the legendary Peyton Manning became available, Denver had no choice but to make the switch and prematurely end Tebow’s days as a long-term franchise quarterback.

The subsequent trade to the Jets (sending two draft picks out to the Rocky Mountains) came at the worst possible time for a young quarterback…one already attracting caravans of cameras due to his collegiate career and public religious displays…trying to find his NFL place. What resulted was a volatile mix of coverage, silliness, and excess, trends only exacerbated by the rise of “embrace debate” culture that continues to dominate modern sports media.

To their credit, the Jets often spoke of using Tebow in non-conventional settings, almost becoming a Taysom Hill-type player before the latter left his mark on New Orleans and the league as a whole. Alas, the Jets were never able to implement Tebow the way they wanted to. He was used mostly on special teams and through the Wildcat offense, but it didn’t stop observers’ insatiable appetite for Tebow coverage.

Even though Tebow had fleeting flashes of New York brilliance…he converted a 23-yard fake punt using his trademark jump pass as a personal protector in a win over Indianapolis…the Jets failed to consistently work him into their system. Several players later anonymously ripped Tebow and eventually, it became too much trouble to keep a backup quarterback with that kind of baggage. He was released by the Jets the following year and failed to catch on to a 53-man roster after training camp stints with New England and Philadelphia.

Before Tebow left the NFL behind, former Jets coach Herm Edwards later told USA Today Sports that he didn’t understand the criticism.

“He’s done nothing wrong,” Edwards said to Jim Corbett. “All he’s done every day is come to work, and he’s working hard every day. And they blasted the guy. Like, really? I could see if he was playing.”

Now, the cycle begins anew in Jacksonville, an ideal place for Tebow to create something new of an NFL career. It’s downright peaceful compared to New York and he won’t be relied upon to win games or turn the tide. In addition to Lawrence, the Jaguars are packed to the brim with young talent acquired through drafts past and present.

Again, there are certainly questions to be raised about how and why Tebow will make it back to the NFL. But it isn’t fair to level those quandaries against him personally. One can certainly question the sense of cronyism that seems rampant through professional sports…just look at how many retreads appear in head coaching spots during the annual winter searches…but it isn’t fair to question Tebow’s work ethic and dedication to his craft. If the Jaguars’ biggest problem is having Tebow…whose foundation has been remained active in off-field issues like human trafficking…on their roster, that would bring about welcome normalcy to Duval.

Questions can be asked about the details of this situation, and rightfully so. But one look at Tebow’s sporting career shows that if he does make it Jacksonville for Week 1…and makes that appearance against the Jets in East Rutherford…it will be earned.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

What’s next? A post-NFL Draft checklist for the New York Jets

New York Jets, Brian Poole

Draft weekend is over, but the New York Jets still have several needs to fill before they take to the practice field.

The New York Jets’ work in Cleveland is done. Nine names were added during last weekend’s NFL Draft proceedings and several others have been penciled in through rookie free agency.

But the Jets’ work is nowhere near complete.

That, unfortunately, is the macabre cloud that hangs over anything the Jets do until they start winning games again. The team has earned positive reviews for their draft weekend proceedings, one headlined by the offensive additions of Zach Wilson and Alijah Vera-Tucker. But it means nothing until they at least get back into the “in the hunt” column in those NFL postseason charts that emerge on game broadcasts circa the holiday season. General manager Joe Douglas has made it clear that he has a vision, but the on-field execution awaits.

The time is ripe for making further additions, as Monday marks the end of any compensatory pick matters when it comes to free agents. What else do the Jets need in the post-Mr. Irrelevant era of the offseason? ESM investigates…

Backup Quarterback

The Jets’ current quarterback group (Zach Wilson/James Morgan/Mike White) has a grand total of zero NFL regular season passes among them. It’s great that Wilson is there as the anchor, the latest name to fill the star-crossed role of franchise quarterback. But the Jets needs to bring someone in as both a veteran mentor and someone to have in case of an emergency. They had the right idea in the final year of the Sam Darnold era through signing Joe Flacco, but he’s in Philadelphia now. Darnold attributed the success of his rookie season to working with Josh McCown and it would behoove the Jets to find a similar solution.

Alex Smith might’ve been the most attractive option in both of those regards, but he opted for retirement. Nick Mullens, he of 16 starts over three seasons under offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur in San Francisco, is also available, but, at 26, he might not be able to provide the veteran mentorship Wilson needs in his debut season. The best current option might be Brian Hoyer, who was brought in for a visit in April. Hoyer, set to enter his 13th NFL season, spent last season in New England, his third stint with the Patriots, and credits his mentorship skills from working with Tom Brady.

“I learned so much and whenever I had a question for him, he was there to give me an answer,” Hoyer said in 2017 prior to a pre-LaFleur stint in San Francisco, per Chris Biderman of Niners Wire. “For me, the best way to be a mentor…was just watch somebody do it and do it the right way. And then when they ask you questions, you give them straight-up honest answers.”

Experienced Defensive Help

Anyone complaining about the lack of defensive additions over the first two days of the draft was roundly silenced when the Jets spent all but one of their Saturday selections on defenders. But the Jets are already packed to the brim with young projects at the top of their defensive depth chart, particularly in their secondary. Rookies Michael Carter II, Jason Pinnock, and Brandin Echols are set to join Bless Austin, Bryce Hall, and Javelin Guidry. The franchise-tagged Marcus Maye is set to work next to sophomore Ashtyn Davis. New York even found some solid pass rushing additions through the undrafted front, including Hamilcar Rashed Jr. out of Oregon State. There’s certainly plenty to be inspired when it comes to the defensive haul, but there’s no guarantee any of them can be day one starters.

The team could use some veteran help and the current free agent bank has plenty of options. Steven Nelson, one of the stronger man-to-man coverage guys, is still around after two seasons in Pittsburgh. Inviting in Richard Sherman, who endlessly praised the hire of Robert Saleh, for at least an interview would almost be a no-brainer. The Jets could also bring back Brian Poole as a reliable nickel prescience, one that remains on the open market after injury issues last season.

The Jets emerged from the weekend with several building blocks to groom and develop. But if they’re looking to contend in the immediate future…the playoffs still seem like a pipe dream but a decent opportunity to reenter NFL relevancy…they’ll have to add some veteran defenders that can come in and contribute immediately.

Blocking Depth

The Jets must be careful with their blocking moving forward. It’s great to see they’re anchoring Wilson’s blind side with back-to-back first rounders, as Vera-Tucker will presumably be working alongside Mekhi Becton. But they took only one lineman in the weekend’s proceedings, going with box score contributors after moving up to take Vera-Tucker. Undrafted yields like New Mexico’s Teton Saltes could make some headway but some veteran finds would turn the pressure up on an offensive line that’s set to retain three starting members from a unit that ranked 29th in Pro Football Focus’ annual offensive line standings.

It’s a hole the Jets have slightly dug themselves into, curiously opting to add veteran depth options (like Dan Feeney and Corey Levin) before the draft rather than after it as other elite talents came and went. Many of the names left on the free agent front are up there in age but can serve as stopgaps or provide some extra training camp heat. Former Green Bay Packer Rick Wagner could work on the right side while the Jets solve their center woes by putting Connor McGovern up against another veteran like Joe Looney this summer until they can find a more permanent solution for Wilson. Center was among the biggest problems during the Sam Darnold era, so any form of consistency they can with the newcomer, even if it’s only temporary, can start steering this ship in the right direction.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Newly-obtained future draft picks give the New York Giants insurance at quarterback

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants are a rebuilt team with an incredibly bright future. That is more evident now than ever after the 2021 NFL Draft.

The Giants operated like a brand new team during this year’s draft. Dave Gettleman did what he has never done before and traded down. Gettleman and the Giants traded down not once, but twice in this year’s draft. The Giants made the big move to trade down in the first round with the Chicago Bears, fielding a 2022 first-round pick, a 2022 fourth-round pick, and a 2021 fifth-round pick.

The Giants gained incredible value when acquiring those future draft picks. Those picks make the Giants’ future even brighter as they continue to build a young, talented, and competitive roster. But those picks also give the Giants insurance for the future regarding the most important position in sports: the quarterback.

How the future capital gives the Giants quarterback insurance

The Giants’ future draft picks obtained via trade this past weekend are hugely important. Not only does the capital give the Giants extra picks to add more young talent to their roster, but it also gives them flexibility going forward with their quarterback situation.

Daniel Jones, right now, is the guy. But this is widely considered to be his “prove-it” year. If Jones cannot succeed and compete now with the number of weapons New York surrounded him with this offseason, then it is hard to see him turning it around at any point.

First-round picks are the most valuable commodity in the NFL other than the quarterback position. But first-round picks are also used to obtain greater quarterback talent. The 49ers had to give up three first-round picks and more to obtain the third overall pick in this year’s draft and draft a quarterback.

If Daniel Jones does take the Giants to the playoffs in a breakout season, then New York can sit happily knowing they have their guy and have extra draft picks to continue building around him next year and beyond.

If Daniel Jones proves that he is not the guy this year, the Giants now have some extra capital to move up and get a new signal-caller in next year’s draft class (which is projected to be loaded with quarterback talent). New York gave themselves insurance and flexibility at quarterback by obtaining extra picks in next year’s draft.

New York Giants’ second round pick is PFF’s top rated pass rusher

new york giants, azeez ojulari

The New York Giants might have gotten the steal of the draft when they selected Azeez Ojulari. The Georgia pass rusher was one of the players linked to the Giants in some first round mock drafts, and yet he surprisingly fell out of the round altogether and the Giants were able to grab him later on.

Going into the season, a lot of people will want to know the answer to one question. Did the Giants come away with a massive steal here or was there a good reason why every team avoided Ojulari in round one?

Some signs point to the Giants finding good value. For one, a lot of experts have marked Ojulari as a player with upside and Pro Football Focus gave him the highest grade of any of the pass rushers in the draft.

Ojulari has been predicted by many to be as good as any of the others at his position. His college highlights further confirm that he’s for real. And it appears the main reason he was skipped out on in the first round was one that didn’t have to do with play.

Injury history caused teams to pass on Ojulari

A high school ACL injury appears to be part of the reason why Ojulari was passed on for so long before the Giants took him. However, this injury wouldn’t come back to affect him during his college career. He instead is the latest player to see his draft stock tumble because of something that came up late in the scouting process, near the draft itself. In fact, the health problem only came up a week before the draft was set to happen.

However, a week or so before the draft, a select group of players traveled to Indianapolis for medical checks. That’s where Ojulari was red-flagged because of a degenerative lower leg condition according to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline. Doctors were concerned the previous injury would lead to progressive, often irreversible deterioration, and loss of function in the ligaments.

The other concern is Ojulari’s smaller size compared to other pass rushers. But based on his good performance in college, it seems unlikely that teams would wait as long as they did to take him just because of that.

It looks like the Giants are taking a gamble that his health will turn out fine and that he won’t be another player whose career is cut short by injury, but Giants fans can at least rest assured that there’s no glaring hole in Ojulari’s game that caused him to drop all the way into the second round.

And, if the Giants had reason to believe his health would be a problem, they probably wouldn’t have made the pick.

New York Jets undrafted free agency tracker (UPDATING)

New York Jets

Follow along with ESM as we track down the New York Jets’ post-draft free agent signings and activities beyond Cleveland.

As the New York Jets sign undrafted free agents, ESM will update the list below.

(LAST UPDATED: 5/1/21, 9:20 p.m. ET)

OT Teton Saltes, New Mexico-Born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, Saltes is the most recent winner of the Wuerffel Trophy (awarded to the college football player “who best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement”) was one of the top blockers in the Mountain West. (Draft Diamonds)

TE Kenny Yeboah, Mississippi-A transfer from Temple, Yeboah spent last season working with second-round choice Elijah Moore in Oxford and put up career-best numbers (27 receptions, 524 yards, 6 touchdowns). (Matt Barrows)

LB Milo Eifler, Illinois-Eifler started his career at Washington before transferring to the Illini, where he had 63 tackles in 2019 before injuries cost him three contests last year. (Eifler)

DL Michael Dwumfour, Rutgers-Dwumfour transferred from Michigan to spend his final season in Piscataway, earning honorable mentions on the All-Big Ten team. (Dwumfour)

CB Brendon White, Rutgers-White was the Defensive MVP for Ohio State during their 2019 Rose Bowl victory over Washington. (Rutgers Football)

G Tristen Hoge, BYU-The Jets opted to add one of Zach Wilson’s protectors from Provo in Hoge, a Notre Dame. (BYU Football)

OL Grant Hermanns, Purdue-Much like some of their day three collections, Hermanns has been a strong leader off the field too, serving as one of the Boilermakers’ captains and appearing on the Big Ten’s All-Academic team. (James Yodice)

LB Hamilcar Rashed Jr., Oregon State-Rashed is best known for dominant junior year, where he set a school record with 14 sacks in 2019. (Jeremy Fowler)

OL Parker Ferguson, Air Force-This Cadet impressed the 18 teams that came to his Pro Day and has earned praise for agility and technique. (Center Grove Football)

CB Isaiah Dunn, Oregon State-At $185,000, Dunn has reportedly been inked to the richest undrafted rookie contract in post-draft history after earning 115 tackles and 18 pass breakups in his final season in Corvallis. (Aaron Wilson)

K Chris Naggar, Southern Methodist-Naggar converted 17-of-21 triple attempts last season (his longest from 48 yards out) and will likely compete with Sam Ficken and Chase McLaughlin. (Nathan Shackelford)

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

New York Jets take DT Jonathan Marshall with final scheduled choice

The New York Jets’ 2021 draft ledger is complete for the time being through the selection of the former Razorback.

The New York Jets completed their scheduled NFL Draft proceedings by taking Arkansas defensive tackle Jonathan Marshall with the 207th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Marshall started only a single year in Fayetteville but impressed on his pro day with 36 reps on the bench with a 4.77-second time on the 40-yard dash. He earned 71 tackles in his career, 11.5 for a loss. Last year was his breakthrough campaign, picking up 35 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble.

“I’ve talked to several different guys about him. He’s played his way into a draftable player, I believe, and you’re not going to get a whole lot better kid than him if you take him on your football team,” Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman said of Marshall per Otis Kirk of Pig Trail Nation So absolutely. He’s had a really good year and I’m proud for him and I believe he will get looks in the NFL.”

Marshall had problems with pressure but displayed strong power that helped him invade backfields. He also displayed leadership skills, a common theme amongst the Jets’ 2021 draft picks, as he served as the Razorbacks’ defensive captain. Arkansas would also ran the 4-3 defense as part of their base, and Marshall’s experience could help Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich implement the system faster.

Like fellow Jets draft picks Brandin Echols and Hamsah Nasirildeen, he is another multi-sport athlete, also playing basketball at Shepherd High School in Texas.

Marshall’s drafting concludes a streak of six consecutive defenders to end the Jets’ draft proceedings. They haven’t held a seventh round pick since 2016.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets select S Hamsah Nasirildeen with sixth-round pick

New York Jets

The latter stages of Nasirildeen’s Florida State career were marred by injury, but the New York Jets brought in the former All-ACC defender.

The New York Jets’ Saturday obsession with the secondary continued with their regularly scheduled sixth-round pick, as they chose Florida State safety Hamsah Nasirildeen with the 175th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Nasirildeen (pronounced Naz-ril-deen) was a second-team All-ACC member at the end of the 2019 season, finishing ninth in the ACC with 101 total tackles. Alas, a torn ACL at the end of the regular season kept him out of the Seminoles’ Sun Bowl appearance against Arizona State as well as all but two games last season. Nasirildeen took advantage of his limited time on the field, notably earning nine tackles and an interception in FSU’s December win over Duke.

“(He’s) just an incredible, incredible young man. He’s a competitor, and I love being around competitors and guys who are just willing to work, willing to invest in what they want to achieve and to make a positive impact,” Florida State head coach Mike Norvell said of Nasirildeen, per Brendan Sonnone of 247Sports.com, after he returned to the field in their penultimate game of the season against North Carolina State. “He is a special young man and definitely provides a spark for our team. I love being around him. He’s an inspiration to everybody in our program.”

Nasrildeen is a former basketball player and high school All-American, originally committing to South Carolina before reverting to Florida State. While he’s had some issues with coverage, his response to adversity and big tackling abilities should make him an attractive project to work with. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com compared Nasirildeen to Foyesade Oluokun, a fellow former sixth-rounder who previously worked with Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich in Atlanta.

The Jets will next pick in the 200th slot of the 2021 NFL Draft, their penultimate scheduled pick.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets snag Pittsburgh cornerback Jason Pinnock

The New York Jets continue to look to round out their defense and establish depth in the secondary. This time in the form of 6 foot, 200 plus pound corner Jason Pinnock. Pinnock was a part of a talented high school football squad where he excelled at corner but also had 1,000 plus receiving yards and 15 TDs. Pinnock committed to Boston College originally before rescinding his commitment and choosing between Notre Dame and Pittsburgh. After picking Pitt, Pinnock never looked back.

Despite battling injuries early in his career, Pinnock showed flashes in his first three seasons, Pinnock still played in 21 games racking up 34 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, 1.0 sack, 3 INTs, 14 deflections, a fumble recovery, and a touchdown. He played a bulk of his snaps as a rotational corner and on special teams for those years before taking over as a starter last season.

Pinnock put up good numbers last season with 20 tackles, 3 INTs, and 1.0 TFL. Pinnock then put on a show at his pro day with a sub 4.50 forty and impressive vertical numbers. The physical makeup is there to be a good corner, but Pinnock needs to develop his football IQ rather than rely on physical skill. If he can developmentally, he can be potential outside corner option.

Although some have wondered why the Jets waited to invest in the secondary, the reports have stated Robert Saleh wants to go after late round guys and develop them to his liking, a la K’Wuan Williams and Akello Witherspoon. If he can get half that production out of Pinnock or Carter Jr., that would be a success.

New York Jets land durable Duke safety Michael Carter

No, you’re not seeing double, the New York Jets selected Michael Carter Jr, but this one plays on the other side of the football. The Duke corner is 5 foot 9 1/2 and 186 pounds. The 4 year player at Duke did everything the right way. Carter waited in the wings, but quickly earned starting reps. His growth in his Sophomore season earned him the Willis Aldridge Award for best defensive back in the Blue Devils program. He then repeated as the winner in his junior year as well. Carter played the most snaps on the team in that season while taking reps at kick returner as well.

Carter has versatility and athleticism that will allow him to take reps at safety if needed, but more than likely slot in nicely as a corner for a team with minimal depth at the position. Carter runs a 4.30 40 yard dash and can keep up with some of the best burners at the next level. He also adds a dimension to Brant Boyer’s special teams unit given he could compete for the returner role.

Carter has had production at the defensive back position posting 41 tackles, 3.0 TFLs, 2 INTs and 8 passes defended last season. He also ranked in the top 10 in the ACC in passes defended and was a third-team All-Acc recipient.

Off the gridiron Carter is exceptional as well. Continuing the trend of high character additions, Carter was team captain his senior season and well regarded by the entire Blue Devil team. He’s got maturity and leadership traits that you long for in a developmental player. Carter may earn reps early due to a lack of depth, but his potential at slot corner (a position the Jets don’t have an answer at right now) is very tantalizing.

New York Jets select Jamien Sherwood with 146th pick of 2021 NFL Draft

The early entrant Sherwood, a safety out of Auburn, became the New York Jets’ first Saturday selection at No. 146.

With the 146th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the New York Jets chose Auburn safety Jamien Sherwood. The pick was the Jets’ regularly scheduled fifth-round selection

Sherwood was an early entrant to the draft and partook in 34 games with the Tigers, earning 140 tackles (8.5 for a loss) and 10 pass breakups. He ranked ninth in the SEC in solo tackles (44) this past season.

Some have seen Sherwood as versatile, with some believing he could move to outside linebacker. He developed a strong reputation as a hard-hitter, with ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. calling one of the “best tacklers” in the draft after the Jets made the selection. Sherwood’s speed and hard-hitting should also allow him to contribute on special teams.

“He can intimidate receivers working into the middle of the field and has the size to cover tight ends,” NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein wrote about Sherwood, comparing him to Clayton Geathers and Nate Gerry. “He must play down safety or in a robber role as his speed and athletic ability will get him into too many binds and get him beat in the pros. It wouldn’t be shocking to see a team eventually look to move him from safety to linebacker, where his athletic ability would go from hindrance to help.”

The safety is the Jets’ first defensive selection of the 2021 draft, the longest they’ve waited before taking a defender since 1969 (DE Jimmie Jones, 156th). He’ll join a young secondary working its way back from the post-Jamal Adams era, one set to be headlined by franchise-tagged veteran Marcus Maye. Other safeties on the current roster include free agent newcomer Lamarcus Joyner and returning Saquan Hampton.

New York’s next selection to set to be the 154th overall, obtained from the New York Giants in exchange for Leonard Williams.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags