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2024 Combine

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Jets' Draft Targets Could Include Defensive Tackle

Former Jets NT Kris Jenkins’ Namesake Making a Name for Himself at NFL Scouting Combine

Michigan defensive lineman Kris Jenkins speaks during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

The Jets have a cornerstone piece in the middle of their defensive line in Quinnen Williams. Two weeks shy of free agency, three of Williams' DT cohorts — Al Woods, Quinton Jefferson and Solomon Thomas — have expiring contracts. With at least five picks at his disposal in the NFL Draft (and multiple compensatory selections likely), Jets GM Joe Douglas could address the defensive interior in April. On Wednesday at the Combine, the defensive tackles met with the media ahead of their workouts.

Another Kris Jenkins
Sixteen years ago, on Feb. 29, 2008, the Jets acquired Kris Jenkins from the Carolina Panthers in a trade. Jenkins was dominant in his first season for New York's AFC representative, recording a career-high 52 tackles and finishing with 3.5 sacks. A big man with rare physical skills, Jenkins was unfortunately limited to seven games in 2009-10 due to two torn ACLs. The four-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro retired in 2011. This  spring, his namesake, Michigan DT Kris Jenkins Jr., will get selected early in the draft.

"I was there with him for his last year when he was a Jet," Jenkins Jr. told reporters during his media session at the Combine Wednesday. "Watching him right before he retired, it was really cool watching it, so it would be cool [to get drafted by the Jets]. Whoever has that trust in me, that faith in me to pick me up, you're going to get the best out of me."

Jenkins Jr. is projected to be taken early Day 2 and could be selected near where his father was taken in 2001 out of Maryland (No. 44 overall).

As for a self-scouting report, he said, "I'm a disciplined player. I'm going to get you whatever you need. If you need me to be an impact player, I'm going to do everything in my power to do that. If you need me to be a gritty trench player, do the dirty work, I'm going to do whatever I can to do that. I'm going to give you whatever you need out of me. I've learned to be humble, I've learned to be where my feet are. I'm going to impact and help the team in any way that I can."

Jenkins Jr. (6-3, 305)  may not have the same stature as his father (6-4, 360), who played in the pros for 10 seasons, but he's making sure NFL teams don't judge a book by its cover.

"I definitely got my dad's strength in there," Jenkins Jr. said. "I definitely got some things in there that you may not see."

Jenkins Jr. came in at No. 6 on Bruce Feldman's "Freaks List" in August. He arrived in Ann Arbor at 257 pounds in 2020 and played last season in the mid-280s. He's previously put up 32 reps of 225 pounds on the bench (his dad did 33 at the 2001 Combine) and has clocked a 3-cone time of 7.16 seconds and a 4.33 shuttle. Both times are faster than the quickest interior defensive lineman at last year's Combine. Chargers HC/former Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh referred to Jenkins as "the mutant of all humans."

Before Jenkins was a three-star recruit and committed to Michigan, he was in awe of his father, Kris Sr., and uncle, Cullen, who played defensive end for the Packers, Eagles, Giants and Commanders from 2004-2016). His first football memory was at 5 years old, standing on the field with his dad and uncle after a Packers-Panthers game in Charlotte, NC. Jenkins Jr. later spent the 2010 season with his father in Florham Park, NJ, his dad's third with the Jets and final season in the league.

Byron Murphy II, Texas (6-1, 308)
The 2023 Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year, Murphy established career highs with 29 tackles (13 solo), 8.5 TFL, 5 sacks and 7 QB hurries. He also had a 1-yard scoring reception against Wyoming and a 1-yard rush TD against Washington in the Sugar Bowl.

"They offered me the opportunity to, and I took it and ran with it," said Murphy of 'Horns OC Kyle Flood and HC Steve Sarkisian. "Pounding the ball in is more satisfying because I grew up running the ball and being able to get the ball again brought back so many memories."

But Murphy could be a first-round selection because of his defensive prowess. He included the Jets amongst a long list of teams he's met with here in Indy.

"I create great leverage," Muphy said. "I play with my hands, and I am violent, and I am also great at stopping the run."

T,Vondre Sweat, Texas, (6-4, 362)
Byron Murphy's collegiate teammate, Sweat, played five seasons for the Longhorns and totaled 128 tackles in 47 games. He is an elite run defender who can't be moved in one-on-one situations.

"Last year, I played at 365, and that's where I'm comfortable at," Sweat told reporters during his media session. "We have to grow into our bodies, and this is me, as you can see. I'm a big guy, big frame, and that's just how it is. I just grew into my frame, man."

With Sweat in the middle playing alongside the likes of Murphy, Texas finished third nationally in rush defense (82.5 yds/g).

"Playing next to T'Vondre, first of all, I want to say it was a blessing just to play with him," Murphy said. "Playing with a guy like that, he makes it easier for me, and I also make it easier for him. Each and every day, we just pushed each other, trying to be great. We competed every day."

Michael Hall, Ohio State (6-2, 280)
After amassing 45 tackles and 6 sacks in three seasons in Columbus, Hall declared for the NFL Draft. After an impressive week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL, he will next work out for scouts at his pro day. Hall is undersized yet explosive and the junior took full advantage of his experience in Mobile.

"I tweaked my hamstring a couple of days before so I won't be doing anything," he said Wednesday. "But I will be doing everything at Pro Day on March 20."

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