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Why Haason Reddick Is a Game-Changer for Jets Defense

NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger Addresses Protection for QB Aaron Rodgers; Says It’s Unlikely All 3 Top WRs in the NFL Draft Will Excel 

Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick (7) rushes the passer during an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Monday, Jan. 15, 2024 in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Peter Joneleit)

The eclipse has come and gone. So too the men's and women's college basketball title games. Now, in its totality, the pro football world is counting down the days and has a singular focus for the next week or so -- the 2024 NFL Draft.

All that said, Brian Baldinger of NFL Network came out of his draft bubble at the start of his discussion with Eric Allen during an edition of "The Official Jets Podcast" to talk about the state of the Jets roster before those three draft days -- April 25-27 -- in Detroit. They then got around to the Jets' options -- and needs -- ahead of the draft.

Haason Reddick's Scary Nickname
Jets general manager Joe Douglas moved quickly after defensive lineman Bryce Huff signed with the Eagles in free agency. In a swap of sorts, the Jets acquired in a trade DL/linebacker Haason Reddick from Philadelphia.

"You can line him up at left defensive end and he can beat big run blockers and play the edge and is excellent on twist stunts," Baldinger said. "In Philly he was nicknamed Freddy Krueger because when he turns the corner a claw is coming out for the quarterback."

Reddick adds an element to the Jets' highly regarded defense that has been missing the past few seasons -- he's a turnover-generating machine. In his first season with the Eagles, in 2022, he had 16 sacks and 5 forced fumbles and followed that up last season with 11 sacks and a lone forced fumble.

"The Jets defensive takeaways improved last year, but balls on the ground have got to be yours," Baldinger said. "Getting the ball on the ground starts with fumbles. They need to take the ball away, elite defenses take it away."

Last season the Jets forced 15 fumbles and recovered 10.

"He plays with maximum effort," Baldinger said of Reddick. "No one player, no one scheme can flat out stop him. He went up against elite players in practice in Philly. He's an every down player who can play 75 percent of snaps. He was the 13th pick [in 2017] out of Temple and played off the ball as an inside linebacker in Arizona, out of position. He was humble. He was labeled a draft bust, went to Carolina [in 2021] as a free agent and built a résumé. With another good year here, he can play himself into another big contract."

In 2023, Reddick had 11 sacks, 23 QB hits, 13 tackles for loss and was named to the Pro Bowl. The year before, he delivered a career-high 16 sacks, 26 QB hits and finished fourth in Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year voting. In addition, over the past four seasons, he has totaled 51 sacks, fourth-most in the NFL.

"They have six former Round 1 picks on the defensive line [Reddick, Quinnen Williams, Jermaine Johnson, Will McDonald, Solomon Thomas and Javon Kinlaw], eight Round 1 picks [add Sauce Gardner and C.J. Mosley] on the defense in all," Baldinger said. "They're at least eight deep on the D-line, 9 or 10 if you get a DT who can watch Quinnen Williams and watch Reddick, Jermaine Johnson, McDonald. Compete and watch the veterans go to work. This team is built around that front."

Quality on Offensive Line
Rebuilding an offensive line to protect quarterback Aaron Rodgers was one of -- if not the top priority this offseason.

Joe Douglas got off to a fast start in free agency, signing John Simpson (Baltimore) and Tyron Smith (Dallas), and reacquiring in a trade Morgan Moses (Baltimore). The versatile Alijah Vera-Tucker is expected to be back after tearing an Achilles tendon last season and center Joe Tippmann returns as an expected starter from Day 1.

"The vets they signed on the offensive line ... Simpson is a young player [26], Tryon and Morgan are here to be starters. They drafted Carter Warren [2023] Max Mitchell [2022] in the fourth round and you want to keep them to develop," Baldinger said. "If you draft on the O-line, the goal is for the guy to come in and compete, show they belong, you're coachable and have a professional approach.

"Who's to say the Jets draft a tackle at No. 10, if they do, go beat somebody out, go show everyone you belong in the starting lineup. One of the guys they've signed, maybe they're the depth player. Who knows?"

On Offense, Putting New Pieces Together
"If you don't score points, I don't care how good the defense is," Baldinger said. "They've been on the field too much, trying to do too much. [The offense] has to pull its weight. A lot of resources have gone into the offense.

"Aaron Rodgers is going to be Aaron Rodgers. He's as demanding as anybody. This group has a lot of new pieces ... new offensive linemen, a new wide receiver [Mike Williams], a quarterback coming back [from a torn Achilles tendon]. Who knows what they draft, but they have to come together quickly. You have to put a lot of new pieces together."

The Draft
The majority of mock drafts predict an early run on quarterbacks, which could mean one of two things for the Jets in Baldinger's estimation.

"The quarterbacks are going to push a lot of elite players down [the board]," he said. "You have your choice of premium players at a variety of positions if you want a max pick. [The Jets] could field phone calls from people who want to get to No. 10, acquire picks or take a good player [with their own pick] and no second-round pick. They have a lot of flexibility."

If the Jets keep the No. 10 pick, Baldinger likes Penn State OT Olu Fashanu. "If he came out last year, he would have been a top-15 pick," he said. "He got stronger, a natural big body and very little not to like about him. He reminded me of Tyron Smith when he came out of USC. Maybe they could be teammates here."

At wide receiver, Baldinger's top three are a surprise to no one: Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze.

"History says Marvin, Malik, Rome ... all three are not going to be great," Baldinger said. "I don't know which one might not be the guy. I have a feeling, my gut tells me Rome is going to be the best of all of them."

Finally, Baldinger delved into the buzz around Georgia TE Brock Bowers.

"You can get elite tight ends outside of the top 10," he said. "Bowers is a much better blocker than anyone thinks he is probably because they see him catching passes and scoring points. You have to have a plan to use him. There's no sense taking [a guy] top 10 if you don't get maximum value."

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