Continuing my series of top draft prospects to watch I’m going to shift my focus from the Midwest to the East Coast.
New York City, to be exact.
After a 5-11 season, the New York Jets secured the sixth overall pick in the 2017 draft. As with all teams this high up in the draft, they have tons of needs to fill. The quarterback class lacks elite potential and with second-round pick from last year Christian Hackenberg on the roster, it remains unlikely the Jets use a first-round asset on a signal-caller back-to-back years.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t QBs worth watching. With big holes in their secondary and the lack of a dynamic pass-rusher, here are some players the Jets must keep their eyes on.
1. Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore
Can we call Ohio State defensive back university yet?
Eli Apple and Vonn Bell were drafted in the first two rounds last year. Bradley Roby was drafted in the first round in 2014. Malcolm Jenkins was a first-team All-Pro in 2015. This year, Ohio State may have two DBs get picked in the top 10: Marshon Lattimore and Malik Hooker.
Hooker recently underwent to repair his labrum and hernia issue, so while he won’t be participating in drills at the combine, he should very much be in play for the Jets at six.
Shifting back to the man of the hour, the Jets should be hope Marshon Lattimore is available for them.
Perfect technique from Lattimore. Flips his hips, runs stride-for-stride with the WR, makes a play on the ball. Should be easy top-10 pick pic.twitter.com/ELqEQgwvO2
— Zach Petersel (@ZPetersel) February 18, 2017
Lattimore has been connected to numerous teams at the top, such as the 49ers, Bears and Titans. Plays like the one above are a great reason why. At 6’0″, 192 pounds he has NFL size and length. Despite starting for just one season at Ohio State, Lattimore showed a propensity to be around the ball with four interceptions and nine pass break ups.
With the controversy surrounding Darrelle Revis, he could be cut and/or his contract terminated, taking his $15.3 million cap hit off the books and creating an even bigger hole in the secondary. For a team that’s already around $7 million above the cap, every investment becomes even more important. In a weak free-agent market where Trumaine Johnson’s market value is projected to be around $50 million, acquiring a top-talent such as Lattimore on a rookie deal while filling a team need could be New York’s best option.
2. Stanford EDGE / DL Solomon Thomas
Thomas is a name that I expect to rise up draft boards after the Scouting Combine.
Listed at 6’3″, 273 pounds, Thomas is a freakish athlete that excels in both rushing the passer and stopping the run. Pro Football Focus graded him as the best run defender in all of college football last season, finishing the year with 37 solo run stops.
His athleticism is simply off the charts.