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2024 Combine

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As NFL Combine Begins, Jets Reside in an Intriguing Spot

NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah Examines Tackle vs. Wide Receiver at No. 10 in the Draft

A generic view of Lucas Oil Stadium during the 2023 Scouting Combine on Thursday, March 2, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Ben Liebenberg via AP)

The NFL Scouting Combine commenced Monday. Last week, the NFL released the list of 321 prospects who have been invited to the event, which will run in Indianapolis until March 4. After finishing 7-10 last season, the Jets currently own five selections in the 2024 NFL Draft headlined by the No. 10 overall pick in Round 1.

Draft conversations will mix with free agency buzz in American's Heartland. Two weeks from Monday, the league's two-day negotiating window will open before free agency starts on March 13. As spring approaches, the Jets have needs at T, WR, backup QB, DT and S. But the complete picture will become much clearer following the first few weeks of free agency.

During a two-hours-plus conference call with reporters, NFL media analyst Daniel Jeremiah was asked about the Jets' early draft positioning.

"Do you go wideout, do you go tackle with that first pick? I know one thing, if you can get the tackle, I feel a lot better about the third-round wideouts than I do about the third-round tackles," Jeremiah told reporters. "Where that to me —I would lean more in that tackle direction early because in the third round you you've got some really, really interesting guys."

Regarding the tackles, Jeremiah broke down the top of the class that features Joe Alt (Notre Dame), Olu Fashanu (Penn State), Taliese Fuaga (Oregon State) and JC Latham (Alabama). Barring a trade-up, Jeremiah doesn't envision a scenario where Alt will be an option for the Jets.

"You have Fashanu (6-6, 317) from Penn State, who is massive," Jeremiah said. "He has the ideal frame, ideal length. The Ohio State game this year was kind of the one that people will point to where he got in some trouble, where his eyes were kind of in the wrong place. He gave up his chest and got bulled and moved around a little bit, but really on the whole, I think his tape is pretty solid. He would be plug-and- play. I think he can play on the left and on the right.

"Fuaga is a really, really clean player for me. He has played on the right side. I don't see really why you would want to move him. I think he is plug-and-play as a right tackle. He could play guard if you needed him to, but just really consistent. Quick feet. Really explosive and dynamic when he gets into guys. He has some nasty to him. Plays with good temperament. That to me is like the plug-and-play. He has a home at right tackle."

On record as saying you could make the argument the three-highest graded players in the '24 Class are wideouts, Jeremiah is high on Marvin Harrison (Ohio State), Malik Nabers (LSU) and Rome Odunze (Washington). With QB Aaron Rodgers returning and WR Garrett Wilson and RB Breece Hall continuing to ascend, adding another big-time playmaker early could do wonders for a club that finished 29th in scoring (15.8 pts/g) and 31st in yards/play (4.34). But if the Jets address an offensive line that started 13 different combinations last season with their first-round pick, appealing wideouts might be available in Rounds 3 and 4.

"Malachi Corley from Western Kentucky has big-time juice, big-time run-after-catch stuff. He is a total stud," Jeremiah said. "You've got Roman Wilson from Michigan who can fly. … Ricky Pearsall from Florida, who is a real loose, fluid, excellent route runner. Got some insane catches. He might have the catch of the year of all these guys in the draft. His catch (vs.) Charlotte is ridiculous. Real quick, real fast and can make some things happen after the catch. I can go on. There's a bunch of wide receivers. Every year we do this and every year talk about this. It's a really, really intriguing mix of wideouts."

It's an intriguing time of year for the Jets, whose list of 21 unrestricted free agents includes three tackles, three defensive tackles, three safeties and both kickers. The pro personnel department will continue to prep for free agency while the college scouts will hunker down in Indy this week.

If the Jets keep the No. 10 pick, they've had some good fortune there at receiver in the past. GM Joe Douglas landed Garrett Wilson in 2022 and Wilson became the first Jets receiver to have at least 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons. Al Toon went No. 10 in 1985 and he resides in the team's Ring of Honor after three Pro Bowls, 517 catches, 6,605 yards and 31 TDs.

"Look, there's no perfect prospects," Jeremiah said. "I wish it was always easy on that where you can see the talent and the performance, and it all came together. It makes for an easy evaluation."

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