Like clockwork, every year there are draft prospects that shoot up the boards. Some rise following the Combine in late February/early March, but some begin their climb at the Reese's Senior Bowl.
Jim Nagy, who took over as Executive Director in June, joined The Official Jets Podcast to discuss which players have the potential to improve their stock.
In November, Nagy met with 17 NFL teams to get a better understanding of who they want to see in Mobile, and they were most excited about the offensive line. The group is headlined by a pair of linemen from Wisconsin – Michael Deiter and Ben Benzschawel – and Oklahoma – Ben Powers and Dru Samia, but Nagy believes Washington State's Andre Dillard could wind up as the draft's top left tackle.
"You're not hearing a lot about him. You're hearing about Jonah Williams from Alabama quite a bit," Nagy said. "But I've spoken to people in the league that put on the tape to watch QB Gardner Minshew and then you see this guy dancing at left tackle and you're like, 'Holy Cow.' He's got great feet, great feel in pass protection and he can stay in front of people. Those guys are hard to find. Andre Dillard is a guy that I think will build a lot of momentum this week."
Mississippi State's Montez Sweat is the group's most notable name as he racked up 22.5 sacks and 30 tackles for loss in two years with the Bulldogs. The 6'6", 245-pounder "looks like a basketball player" with an 85" wingspan.
"He's got that length everyone wants to see, but he's also got really heavy hands with that length," Nagy said. "That's not always the case. When he brings his hands, he can really separate from blocks and get off people. He's going to run fast. He doesn't always look fast because he's so tall. The foot turnover isn't one of a smaller guy, but he can really cover ground with his stride…Montez is definitely in that first-round mix."
Nagy pegged Louisiana Tech's Jaylon Ferguson, whose NCAA-record 45 career sacks eclipsed Terrell Suggs' 44, as someone who could fit a similar mold to Saints DL Marcus Davenport. Davenport was regarded as a second-round pick at this time last year but following a great week of practice and a strip-sack in the Senior Bowl, Davenport was drafted 14th overall.
"Jaylon is actually a little looser of an athlete, he has a little more shake to him," Nagy said. "Another long-bodied guy that's explosive off the edge and hard to block. Really talented group. If the Jets need a pass rusher, they can definitely find one down here."
UMass wideout Andy Isabella is the quintessential Senior Bowl prospect – extremely productive player at a small school. Isabella led the FBS with 1,698 receiving yards, 219 of which came against No. 5 Georgia.
"He won the 100 meters in the state of Ohio. He ran a 10.51 100-meter, which is flying for a high school kid," Nagy said. "In that same race was Denzel Ward, the fourth overall pick by the Cleveland Browns and he placed third in that same race with a 10.62. Denzel ran 4.34 at the Combine last year, so if you're just taking those numbers, Andy Isabella might be a high 4.2 guy."
Nagy also pointed out South Carolina's Deebo Samuel, who he believes would already be playing on Sundays if he didn't injure his leg last year, and NC State's Jakobi Meyers.
"He has a lot of savvy as a route runner," Nagy said of Meyers. "He's long and he has unbelievable ball skills when people are around him. That's the thing for college receivers in spread offenses. A lot of these guys are playing pitch and catch and there's a lot of space when they catch the football. Then they get to the pros and really struggle with those windows. Jacoby is a guy that can really make plays when there are people around him."