The Jets didn't address linebacker in the early wave of free agency following career years from C.J. Mosley (29) and Quincy Williams (25). Despite entering his seventh season (opted-out of 2020), Mosley posted a career-high 168 tackles, which ranked fourth in the NFL. He was named Curtis Martin Team MVP. Williams, on the other hand, thrived in DC Jeff Ulbrich's system after Joe Douglas claimed him off waivers. Jarrad Davis, the team's projected starter entering 2021, signed with the Lions, the team that drafted him in 2017, in free agency.
The Green & White are also hopeful their second-year 'backers will take a jump in Year 2 in Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen. They both played safety in college and saw limited playing time as a rookie. Sherwood took 211 snaps (139 defense, 72 special teams) before rupturing his Achilles and Nasirildeen 284 (60 defense, 224 special teams).
If GM Joe Douglas wants to add to the room in the draft, this year's class doesn't have a blue-chip talent, but a lot of viable options for all 32 teams looking to bolster their room including a number of players who the Jets coached in the Senior Bowl.
Top of the Class
LB Devin Lloyd (6-3, 237), Utah -- Lloyd was a do-it-all 'backer for the Utes. He totaled 256 tackles, 43 TFLs, 15.5 sacks, 8 PDs and 5 INTs in four seasons. He could be the first linebacker to hear his name called in April's draft. He was a first-team All-American in 2021, ranking second in the FBS with 22 tackles for loss and ties for second nationally by returning 2 of his 4 INTs for scores. A former safety in high school, Lloyd totaled 110 tackles, 8 sacks, 6 PDs in 14 games.
LB Nakobe Dean (5-11, 229), Georgia -- Dean became the third player in to win the Butkus Award in high school (2018) and in college (2021). Dane Brugler of The Athletic compares the former Bulldog to former Jets LB Jonathan Vilma, who was drafted No. 12 overall in 2004. He's often compared to former Georgia LB Roquan Smith, the No. 8 pick in 2018, because of their size (Smith is 6-1, 230). Dean led Georgia in tackles as a sophomore in 2020 and in 2021, he totaled 72 tackles, 10.5 TFLs, 6 sacks, 2 interceptions, 6 PDs and 2 FF.
Best of the Rest
Quay Walker (6-4, 241) and Channing Tindall (6-2, 230), Georgia -- Walker and Tindall are likely to be selected no later than the end of Day 2 and could hear their names called before that. Walker has great length and speed as he ran a 4.52 40-yard dash at the Combine. A one-year starter for the Bulldogs, he had 67 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks and 3 PDs in 2021.
Faster than Walker was Tindall with a 4.47. Tindall was the team's third-leading tackler last season with 67.
Chad Muma (6-3, 239), Wyoming -- Muma was a tackling machine for the Cowboys, averaging 11.3 tackles per game over the last two seasons. He also had 3 interceptions in 2021 and returned two of them for scores along with 142 tackles. Some analysts believe he is a better than former Wyoming 'backer Logan Wilson, who led the AFC Champion Bengals in tackles in 2021. The Green & White most likely have a good read on Muma, who was on their team in the Senior Bowl.
Troy Andersen (6-3, 243), Montana State -- Another Senior Bowl prospect on the Jets' squad, Andersen has one of the most fascinating stories in this year's draft. He played running back as a freshman (and once at LB), earning Big Sky freshman of the year and a freshman All-American. He then played two seasons at QB for the Bobcats in addition to playing 'backer. He was an FCS first-team All-American in 2021 and Big Sky DPOY, ranking second in the FCS with 147 tackles in addition to being a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, also known as the "Academic Heisman." He ran the fastest 40-yard dash among linebackers at the combine at 4.42. While a coincidence, his NFL.com writeup reads, "all gas, no brakes once he triggers downhill.
Day 3 Diamond
Christopher Allen (6-3, 241), Alabama -- Allen is a great athlete whose injuries prevented him from seeing the field in Tuscaloosa. He was a top recruit in Baton Rouge, LA and chose to go with Alabama despite being coached by former LSU QB Marcus Randall. Allen played in seven games his freshman year before redshirting in 2018 with a knee injury. He played in all 13 games in 2019 and came onto the scene in 2020, earning second-team All-SEC honors. He led the conference with 13 tackles for loss and had 6 sacks. Primed for a big role in 2021, Allen played just 10 snaps and broke his foot while sacking Miami QB D'Eriq King in the season opener. The team that drafts Allen will most likely be betting his best football is ahead of him.