INDIANAPOLIS — The NFL Combine is here, and it should be an intriguing week for the New York Jets.
General manager Joe Douglas is running his first combine with the Jets. But no doubt, Douglas and his staff have been diligently working to get ready for the draft for much of the last year.
They probably won’t be surprised by much this week. It’s more about getting an up-close look at the players they’ve been scouting and the chance to sit down and interview some of them.
The Jets have a lot of needs, and there are a lot of talented players in this year’s draft. With that in mind, here’s who they should target at this week’s NFL Combine.
RB Cam Akers, Florida State
It might seem unlikely that the Jets take a running back, especially with Le’Veon Bell still on the roster. But the reality is that Bell is coming off the worst season of his career, and the other two running backs, Bilal Powell and Ty Montgomery, might not return.
And so the Jets must at least consider taking a running back in the first few rounds. Akers could be an option in the second round. He flashed a ton of raw ability and running toughness despite playing behind a poor offensive line at FSU.
And his power style would be a good fit within the Jets offense, which prioritizes consistent gains.
WR CeeDee Lamb, WR Oklahoma
Lamb is expected to be one of the top 10 picks. But if he falls to the Jets at No. 11, they must seriously consider picking a potential transcendent offensive weapon — yes, instead of doing what everyone expects and picking an offensive lineman.
Lamb, who looked like a superstar in college, could create a partnership with quarterback Sam Darnold that lasts for the next decade and would make the quarterback’s job much easier.
Plus, the Jets might be thin at receiver if Robby Anderson leaves in free agency. It’s hard to imagine the Jets passing on an offensive lineman for a receiver, but depending who’s still on the board it might be the right call.
OT Jedrick Wills, Alabama
In his introductory press conference last June, Douglas said one of his top priorities was to build a strong offensive line — both for the benefit of Darnold and the franchise as a whole — was one of his top priorities. And with four elite tackles forecasted at the top of this year’s draft, Douglas has the chance to put a key pice in place.
The Jets will surely take a close look at all the top prospects. But Wills, who has NFL-ready size (6-5, 320 pounds), strength and instincts, might have the highest ceiling of all.
The Jets need to take a close look to figure out how likely it is he reaches his potential — and perhaps, more importantly, if they believe he can make the move to right tackle to protect Darnold’s blindside.
OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia
Thomas showed just how talented a left tackle he can be at Georgia, where he was a three-year starter at the position. He seems to have all the perquisites to continue his success at the next level.
But on some draft boards, he’s not as highly graded as some the other offensive tackles in this draft. This could present an opportunity for the Jets.
If they believe he can become an elite offensive lineman, they might be able to trade down from No. 11 and get him while adding some ammunition to gather talent at other areas of need across the roster.
CB Trevon Diggs, Alabama
Diggs, the younger brother of Vikings star receiver Stefon, is one of the most intriguing prospects in the entire draft. Trevon Diggs played receiver in high school but transitioned fully to defensive back in his second season at Alabama.
He’s still got some kinks to iron out as he learns a new position, but he has remarkable speed and plenty of size (6-2, 207 pounds) to be an elite corner at the pro level.
The Jets are badly in need of cornerback depth and could look to add Diggs early in the third round, if the’s still on the board.
DE Curtis Weaver, Boise State
As always, edge rusher is a position of need for the Jets. And though they have other, perhaps more pressing needs — and even after whiffing badly on Jachai Polite in the third round last year — they should strongly consider drafting an outside rusher in the early rounds.
Weaver is an intriguing talent. He showed potential in college, with 34 sacks in the last three seasons.
There are some doubts that he has the quickness to make the same impact in the NFL, but he still projects as a solid pro who should be able to get to the quarterback.
The Jets have two third-round picks, thanks to the Giants trade for Leonard Williams, and Weaver could be a good fit if he’s available.