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Scheme fit always plays a key role in the way a team shapes its draft board.
Coaches seldom try to fit square pegs into round holes, making a player’s skillset and system fit paramount to the way the draft plays out. For the Jets, Mike LaFleur’s west coast offense is predicated on versatility at the skill positions and a zone-blocking scheme in the trenches.
Fortunately for New York, there are a number of scheme fits in the 2022 NFL draft later this month. Here are 17 prospects who would fit LaFleur’s offense.
Iowa State RB Breece Hall
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Hall is the clear-cut top running back in this year’s draft and is the perfect fit to form a two-headed monster in the backfield with Michael Carter. He has top-end tailback potential with an elite skill set that features plenty of shiftiness and soft hands to make him a viable threat catching passes out of the backfield. With that being said, Hall is unlikely to land in New York unless the Jets choose to address the position in the second round — which ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has occurring in his latest mock draft.
Georgia RB James Cook
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Cook, the brother of Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, is an impressive athlete with elite quickness and good hands. He played a major part in Georgia’s run to a national championship and would compliment Carter as well.
Cincinnati RB Jerome Ford
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Ford transferred from Alabama to Cincinnati and found a home with the Bearcats, helping the AAC program become the first Group of 5 school to reach the College Football Playoff. Ford possesses an intriguing mix of size, speed and explosiveness. He would be a nice fit with the Jets if he’s on the board late in the draft.
Ohio State WR Garrett Wilson
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Wilson is arguably the top wide receiver in this year’s draft after Alabama’s Jameson Williams tore his ACL in the national championship game. He’s not a speedster like Williams, but Wilson is a smooth route runner and has a knack for making plays after the catch. The 6-foot, 188-pound wideout caught 70 passes for 1,058 yards and 12 touchdowns while working as Ohio State’s No. 1 wide receiver in 2021. He can translate that production over to the professional ranks, and his do-it-all ability makes him a nice fit with the Jets.
USC WR Drake London
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London might not fit the Jets’ offense like a glove, but he fills a major void in LaFleur’s system. The 6-foot-5 London posted gaudy numbers in his final season at USC, catching 88 passes for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns. London’s junior season was cut short due to injury, but his talent is undeniable. He would give the Jets a big-bodied deep threat and red zone target.
Alabama WR Jameson Williams
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Williams was nothing short of dynamic in his lone season at Alabama after transferring from Ohio State, catching 79 passes for 1,572 yards (19.9 yards per catch) and 15 touchdowns. He is the fastest wide receiver in the draft and if speed is what the Jets are searching for, they won’t have an issue taking him at No. 10 despite the torn ACL he suffered in the final game of the season.
Ohio State WR Chris Olave
Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch
The 6-foot, 187-pound Olave is the more explosive of Ohio State’s elite wide receiver duo from a year ago. He would give New York a weapon that can take the top off the defense with his speed — Olave ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at the combine — and an extremely refined route runner.
Western Michigan WR Skyy Moore
Syndication: Detroit Free Press
Moore was quietly one of the most productive wide receivers in college football in 2021, catching 95 passes for 1,292 yards and 10 touchdowns. He might not be the biggest receiver at just 5-foot-10, but Moore is flat-out dynamic with the ball in his hands.
Colorado State TE Trey McBride
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McBride was one of the most prolific tight ends in college football in 2021 despite playing in a run-heavy offense, finishing the season with 90 receptions for 1,121 yards and a touchdown. The Colorado State product said at the Senior Bowl that he sees himself as a fit with the Jets, but odds are he’ll be off the board before New York seriously entertains selecting a tight end.
Ohio State TE Jeremy Ruckert
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Ruckert’s collegiate numbers don’t jump off the page, but he didn’t get a ton of targets with Ohio State’s wide receiver room being one of the most talented and deepest in college football. The Long Island native projects as a solid pro who is an equally adept pass catcher and run blocker. He could be on the Jets’ radar if he drops into a reasonable part of the draft.
Coastal Carolina TE Isaiah Likely
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Likely was Coastal Carolina’s most dangerous weapon in the passing game in 2021. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound tight end caught 59 passes for 912 yards and showcased his red-zone ability with 15 touchdowns. Likely is a fit in the Jets’ offense as a pass-catching tight end who should be available in the middle rounds.
NC State OT Ikem Ekwonu
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An All-ACC performer on the interior and the outside, Ekwonu is arguably the best offensive lineman in this year’s draft. Would the NC State product be worth nabbing at No. 4? Teams usually don’t draft for insurance in the top five, but George Fant’s contract is up at the end of 2022 and Mekhi Becton hasn’t shown that he can stay healthy. Ekwonu is one of two offensive line talents worth pulling the trigger on this early in the draft.
Alabama OT Evan Neal
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Neal is the other offensive tackle the Jets could feasibly select at No. 4 if they choose to target the position over more pressing needs. Neal didn’t participate in combine workouts but caught everyone’s attention by checking in at a lean 337 pounds. His Alabama film also speaks for itself in terms of how dominant Neal could be at the next level — which makes him a fit in every offense in the league.
Central Michigan OT Bernhard Raimann
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Raimann boosted his draft stock with strong showings at the Senior Bowl and draft combine and is now in play to go off the board as early as the middle of the first round. Landing the Central Michigan product in the second round would be a steal for the Jets.
Northern Iowa OT Trevor Penning
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Penning showed the NFL world exactly how nasty he can be as a blocker during Senior Bowl practices. The Northern Iowa product plays with a mean streak and uses his 6-foot-7, 322-pound frame and strength to physically overwhelm opposing pass rushers on every snap.
Iowa C Tyler Linderbaum
Linderbaum is one of the best offensive linemen in this year’s draft. He was a unanimous All-American and won the Rimington Trophy in his final season at Iowa. Taking a center in the top 10 might be a bit of a reach, but Linderbaum might be a top 10 talent in the class. He becomes a realistic target if the Jets decide they want to move on from Connor McGovern.
Arizona State C Dohnovan West
West can play center and guard, making him a versatile piece New York can plug in at a multitude of positions — similar to Dan Feeney, whose contract expires at the end of 2022. The Arizona State product makes sense for the Jets whether they are trying to immediately replace McGovern or not. He could work as a depth piece at guard before sliding into the starting lineup at center once McGovern is out the door in 2023.