2022 NFL Combine: 5 Players the New York Jets Should Watch

The 2022 NFL Combine is nearly here, and the New York Jets should have plenty to keep their eyes on in Indianapolis. Although they’re coming off their 11th straight season without reaching the playoffs, the Jets at least have four selections within the draft’s first 38 picks.

Whether or not they’ll use those picks properly is another story.

On the eve of this year’s combine, now feels like the perfect time to rank players who Gang Green must keep an eye on in the coming days. For this list, we only ranked prospects who fit the Jets’ current needs. As a result, quarterbacks such as Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett and Ole Miss’ Matt Corral are ineligible. 

Although the Jets’ needs could change after the new league year begins March 16, the team should nonetheless closely watch these players, several of whom should be available on the second and third days. Based on consideration of the aforementioned prerequisites, the Jets must monitor the following prospects.

5. Max Mitchell, OT, Louisiana

An All-Sun Belt selection at Louisiana, Mitchell paved the way for a Ragin’ Cajuns team that went a combined 34-5 from 2019-21. The 6-6, 299-pound lineman has experience at both tackle positions and is currently projected to go on the draft’s second day.

Although the Jets are widely expected to use at least one of their two first-round picks on an offensive lineman, few would fault them for choosing to double up within the first two rounds. Mitchell, who excels in the run game, could be an ideal option with the 38th overall pick — or, if he falls to the third round, No. 69 overall.

4. Isaiah Likely, TE, Coastal Carolina

Likely arrived at Coastal Carolina as an under-recruited wide receiver prospect from Massachusetts. He left the Sun Belt school with 133 catches, 2,050 receiving yards, and 27 touchdowns from 2018-21; 12 of those scores, including a 99-yard catch-and-run against Arkansas State last October, came in his final college campaign.

Likely could become the reliable, playmaking tight end that Chris Herndon never grew into with the Jets. The 6-foot-4, 231-pound weapon is currently projected to go in the middle rounds and is a prolific scorer who had five touchdowns of at least 50 yards.

3. Drake London, WR, USC

Before London fractured his right ankle on Halloween, he was on pace to end his junior season with 122 catches, 1,626 yards, and 11 touchdowns. Those numbers would certainly do for a Jets team that hasn’t had a receiver make the Pro Bowl since Brandon Marshall in 2015. It’s too bad the Pro Bowl doesn’t mean anything anymore.

Nonetheless, London would be an explosive vertical threat and a welcome addition in Mike LaFleur’s offense. Whether or not the Jets are willing to use one of their two first-round picks on him is another conversation.

2. DeAngelo Malone, EDGE, Western Kentucky

Malone deserves more love, even if he played in mid-major Conference USA. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound edge rusher totaled 32.5 sacks and 59 tackles for a loss across five seasons with the Hilltoppers and earned Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year twice.

Malone is currently projected to be selected on the draft’s third day, and potentially as late as the sixth round. If Jets head coach Robert Saleh is willing to take a chance on him as a developmental prospect, he’d undoubtedly be an intriguing fit.

1. Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

Before the 2022 Senior Bowl, most draft analysts pegged Trevor Penning as someone who would be selected late in the first round. However, a dominant showing in Mobile, Alabama, could reportedly propel the Northern Iowa standout into the top 10.

At 6-foot-7 and 321 pounds, Penning is a brawling blocker who checks every box the Jets should have regarding an offensive line prospect. If he stays healthy, don’t be surprised if he becomes the Jets’ next perennial All-Pro offensive lineman.

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