While the nation's top quarterback prospects talked to the media on Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, the Jets — with their young signal-caller QB Zach Wilson secured in last April's NFL Draft — can focus on adding more pieces in front of and around their athletic passer.
After the 2021 Draft Class brought in LG Alijah Vera-Tucker, WR Elijah Moore and RB Michael Carter, the Jets have the money in free agency and the draft capital to accelerate the development of their franchise QB. And their offseason is likely to include additions at tight end and wide receiver.
Wednesday's Sounds from America's Heartland. …
Drake London: Alijah Vera-Tucker Has Been 'In My Ear'
USC WR Drake London (6-5, 210), a popular mock draft pick at No. 10 for the Jets, would welcome being the second Trojans prospect to make the West Coast to East Coast jump, following in the footsteps of Jets LG Alijah Vera-Tucker.
"That's big twin right there," London told reporters at the Combine. "He's somebody that I've looked up to, another mentor. Blessed that I came in there as a freshman and played with him. He's definitely in my ear. He's just telling me to keep it easy and enjoy the moment because you never really get something like this ever again."
London will not participate in the on-field drills in Indianapolis as he continues to recover from an ankle injury that cut short his season. He started running about a week ago and expects to be a full go at USC's Pro Day.
London, the Pac 12 Player of the Year, had 88 catches, 1,084 yards and 7 TDs in seven games. He uses his basketball background (played for USC 2019-20) to help play above the rim on the field, modeling his game after players like WRs Calvin Johnson and Mike Evans.
"It's like just grabbing a rebound," he said. "I use my crossover in press, things like that, and body control. It's definitely helped me in the long run."
He added: "I try to learn something from everybody. At the end of the day, I'm trying to be a Swiss Army knife. Somebody who has all the tools in his bag. I've definitely sat down and watched film from Calvin Ridley, Amari Cooper, people like that."
Not surprisingly, the California native's favorite basketball player is the late Kobe Bryant.
McBride-Jets Connection Runs Deep
Not only did Colorado State's Trey McBride play for the Jets-led National squad at last month's Senior Bowl, but he looked up to a former Jet when growing up in Fort Morgan, CO. The Jets selected Joel Dreesen in the sixth round of the 2005 NFL Draft and Dreesen, who had 5 receptions in 14 games his rookie season for the Green & White, played eight seasons in the NFL and finished with 158 receptions, 1,767 receiving yards and 19 TDs.
"Joel Dreesen, a guy who played eight or nine years in the league, is a guy I really looked up to my whole life," McBride said. "Now more so than George Kittle, a guy who can kind of be a threat in the run game and be a threat in the pass game as well, a really complete tight end."
McBride, who also attended Fort Morgan HS, had a solid Senior Bowl week that he capped with a scoring reception in the National's 20-10 win over the American squad.
"I think it was a great opportunity to go out there and get coached by NFL coaches," he said of his week with the Jets. "It was a really cool thing to get to know those guys and their scheme a little bit. Great opportunity and I loved being around those guys and learning from them."
Last season, McBride led all FBS tight ends in receptions (90) and receiving yards (1,121) and was named the John Mackey Award winner. As the week got underway, McBride, who prides himself on his versatility, got reacquainted with Jets TE coach Ron Middleton.
"I think he's a great coach, a really sharp guy, a really personable guy," McBride said. "He can get to know you on a personal level. I really loved him. I talked to him again yesterday, just a tremendous guy and I loved the week I had with him."
Dotson Ready to Show Off His Speed
Certain players eat, breathe and sleep football, but Penn State WR Jahan Dotson takes it to another level.
"I literally lay in bed every night and throw the ball to myself," he said. "Ever since I was a little kid, I was going to the park with my cousins, playing catch. At about 4 years old, if I didn't catch the ball, I was doing push-ups. I've been catching a football all my life and it's a stress reliever. It's something I'm always doing."
Dotson, whom NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah expects to run in the 4.3 range in the 40-yard dash, has focused on improving his speed since he was caught from behind in a game against Minnesota in 2019. He would have scored a go-ahead touchdown with the Nittany Lions down 5 points with 2 minutes remaining, but Dotson was tackled at the 10-yard line and Penn State couldn't score. That was the team's first loss of the season.
"It honestly just fueled me to get stronger, get faster and never let that opportunity ever happen again," he said. He later added: "That's something I've been working on for about two years now. Really focused on running a fast 40 and just being a well-rounded football player, running great routes, getting in and out of cuts."
See the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis from all angles.
Likely High on Hands
Coastal Carolina TE Isaiah Likely was down in Mobile for the Senior Bowl, but not on the National team coached by the Jets like McBride and Jeremy Ruckert. A good receiving tight end (59 rec, 912 yards, 12 TD in 2021) and a high school wideout, Likely believes he proved he can in-line block throughout the season and at the Senior Bowl.
"A lot of teams tell me I'd be a moving F piece just because I can go everywhere, in-line, in the slot, and go out wide," he said. "So being able to put me everywhere in the offense, it's a lot more that I'd have to learn at a faster pace, but I'm used to that."
Likely has been watching tape of tight ends like Raiders' Darren Waller, Chiefs' Travis Kelce, Falcons' Kyle Pitts and Cardinals' Zach Ertz, who are all exceptional pass catchers, and Likely hopes to follow in their footsteps.
"I consider myself the best route runner in this class and I have reliable hands," Likely said. "I feel like that's something every scout tells me – my hands are the best in the class and that's something I pride myself on."
Purdue WR David Bell won't have to ask directions this week -- he attended Warren Central in Indianapolis.
"It's definitely great," Bell said. "You get a lot of love when I go outside, a lot of people are asking for autographs."
The smooth Bell, who had 232 receptions, 2,946 yards and 21 TDs in 29 games at Purdue, talked about the three receivers in the NFL he watches on a regular basis.
"Keenan Allen, his route running. Amari Cooper, his explosiveness and quickness off the line of scrimmage. And then Allen Robinson, his contested catches," he said.
This is a deep wide receiver class and Bell could land in the late first-, early second-round range.