If you’re wondering what this means — every year, two NFL franchises coach the college football All-Star game, otherwise known as the Senior Bowl. This tradition allows these two predetermined organizations to get an up-close and personal look at some of the best prospects in the draft.
Normally, the two worst teams from 2021 get this honor but the Jets lucked out in 2022 being that the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans fired their coaches. That extended the job to Robert Saleh and Gang Green, as well as Dan Campbell and the Detroit Lions.
ALL the latest Jets news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Jets newsletter here!
Roster Is Coming Together
Slowly but surely, the official Reese’s Senior Bowl Twitter account has begun releasing the rosters for each team. So far, the Jets “National” group of prospects includes:
- QB– Kenny Pickett, Desmond Ridder, Carson Strong.
- WR– Jahan Dotson, Romeo Doubs, Bo Melton, Alec Pierce, Khalil Shakir, Christian Watson.
- TE– Jake Ferguson, Charlie Kolar, Trey McBride, Jeremy Ruckert, Cole Turner.
Most fans would agree that the Jets absolutely need at least one tight end in 2022, probably two, maybe three! That makes this position extra important in the Senior Bowl and Saleh may have hit the jackpot with his roster.
Before they were announced, executive director of the Senior Bowl Jim Nagy tweeted: “Good mix of true Y’s [in-line blockers] (Iowa State’s Charlie Kolar), playmaking F’s [off-line pass-catchers] (Coastal’s Isaiah Likely), & versatile Y/F’s [dual-threats] (Colorado State’s Trey McBride). Deepest TE class in years.”
Follow the Heavy On Jets Facebook page, where you can weigh in on all the latest NYJ-related daily content, analysis, features and more!
Fans Get Their Guy
On December 31, we wrote about a quote from Coach Saleh, detailing the type of traits the Jets are looking to target at tight end. To break the comments down into their simplest form, the dream model was All-Pro George Kittle but the preference was a dual-threat.
Some may be disappointed that Likely, an athletic playmaker prospect, is joining the Lions “American” roster but I don’t think there was any shot the Jets targeted him in all honesty. Saleh’s staff is looking for tight ends who blend a “combination of their ability to run block and be able to work the middle of the field in the play-action pass game.”
Based on this assessment, Colorado State’s McBride has emerged as a clear fan favorite on Jets Twitter. The dual-threat has also surged up Todd McShay’s big board to 29th overall.
The expert draft analyst described him: “McBride is the only tight end to rank inside the FBS’ top 55 in receiving yards this season; he is No. 22 overall with 1,121 yards. Additionally, his 90 catches rank 11th overall. He is versatile, lining up out wide, in the slot and in-line with the Rams, and he can be a real matchup problem for defensive coordinators. McBride is a big target who makes plays in traffic and downfield, thanks to elite ball skills. He leverages his routes well and is productive after the catch.”
Oliver Hodgkinson of Pro Football Network added that “in a fiercely competitive 2022 NFL Draft tight end class, Colorado State’s Trey McBride has the potential to be the best of the bunch.” He continued in his description: “A productive pass-catcher who punishes his opponents as a blocker.”
Later, Hodgkinson detailed McBride as a “three-level threat” that isn’t just “physically capable as a blocker” but “technically astute.” My favorite quote from the PFN analyst: “While some of his tight end contemporaries appear a little skinnier, McBride looks the part of an NFL tight end.”
Jets Will Have Inside Look at Multiple ‘Scheme Fits’
Fans may be clamoring for McBride who has that Kittle-look about him, but all five of these Senior Bowl teammates are scheme fits for Gang Green.
Ferguson and Kolar represent the in-line tight end that can catch the ball well but offer less athleticism downfield. The latter is probably the more appealing of the two.
Hodgkinson described the Iowa State product: “Kolar does have great size and solid contested-catch ability. He’s also an able blocker with the length to translate. That’s enough for him to earn a spot as a rotational red-zone threat. However, any greater role than that may be an improbable outcome for Kolar. The Iowa State TE appears to be an average athlete at best, without much dynamic explosiveness or agility.”
PFN’s Ian Cummings gave a similar scouting report for Ferguson: “With his size and straight-line explosiveness, Ferguson has a strong physical foundation as a tight end. He’s not an elite athlete — but he is a good one — and his ability to gain speed quickly certainly shows up on film… As of now, Ferguson can be a role player, but he’s not as versatile or well-rounded as NFL teams may desire.”
Ruckert and Turner appear to be the bigger receiving threats out of this group, like McBride, but does their in-line ability hold up in Mike LaFleur’s system?
The Nevada product, Turner, has been scouted as an “effort blocker who gets in the way more than he mauls.” He’s also a reliable target who can “move the chains and has the skills to stand out in the red zone with sneaky foot speed and long stride to top producing tight end.”
Turner might be too much of an ‘F’ tight end for the Jets liking but Ruckert could be a match. NFL analyst and former Jet Damien Woody tweeted that the Ohio State Buckeye “would be a helluva fit” in LaFleur’s offense.
Hodgkinson wrote that Ruckert was an “exceptional pass catcher [and] a willing blocker.” He continued: “He puts everything he’s got into every blocking rep, whether that’s as an in-line tight end, a lead blocker, or blocking downfield to extend running plays.”
Add in that he “catches everything” despite a limited sample size and you have another potential Jets marriage if they miss out on McBride.