As I get ready to make my second down trip to Mobile, Alabama for the Reese’s Senior Bowl, I’ve decided to share a handful of prospects, both on offense and defense, that I think can catch the attention of Jets coaches and scouts throughout the week. Starting with the offensive side of the ball, here are five names to watch for New York. With a new offensive coordinator in Nathaniel Hackett, fixing the offensive line and adding depth through the draft will be a key focus this offseason.
Tyjae Spears, RB, Tulane
A two-year starter at Tulane, Spears is one of 4 running backs at the Senior Bowl who will be coached by New York Jets assistant Pat Bastien, and quite frankly, he may be the most dynamic. With nearly 1,600 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns last season, Spears became the first Tulane player to win the AAC Offensive Player of the Year in 2022. His quick footwork and vision helped him eclipse 100+ rushing yards nine times for the Green Wave, including 205 yards in a Cotton Bowl win vs USC. Spears provides upside in the pass game, with 564 yards on 48 career catches (11.8 avg). He certainly possesses the strength to hold up in pass protection, but there were some issues with his blocking in the games I watched. This will be a focal point for him to improve in Mobile this week.
Jayden Reed, WR, Michigan State
After a down year in 2022, Jayden Reed looks to rebound and boost his draft stock with a good week of practice. A Western Michigan transfer who then played three seasons with the Spartans, he scored double-digit touchdowns in 2021, en route to becoming a 1st-Team All-American. Reed has worked out of the slot or the boundary, finding success in both places. If he is able to put together a good week of practice and be dominant during the 1-on-1 periods, Jayden Reed could rise into the early Day 2 discussion for receivers.
Tre Tucker, WR, Cincinnati
With a likely need at kick returner, as well as depth at the wide receiver position, Cincinnati’s Tre Tucker could be the perfect replacement for Braxton Berrios. After an All-Pro season in 2021, Berrios failed to recapture that fire and didn’t look like the same player in 2022. If he were to be a cap casualty for New York (carries a $8.2M cap hit with only $3.2M in dead money), the 5’9” 185lb Bearcat is one to keep on your radar as a mid-round target.
Matthew Bergeron, OT, Syracuse
With head coach Robert Saleh expressing the team having a ‘revamped’ offensive line in his latest presser, the majority of my focus will be on the offensive line while in Mobile. Joe Douglas has an affinity for taking linemen early in the draft, so the 13th pick very well could emerge in Mobile. Matthew Bergeron was compared to Tristan Wirfs by Ben Fennell, saying that he is “powerful in the run game”. For a team that wants to be a run-heavy offense in New York, that sounds like a good fit. He will certainly have his hands full with the loaded talent on the defensive line at Mobile, but if he can hold his own, he could be a top-40 lock in late April.
Emil Ekiyor Jr., OG, Alabama
Looking to follow in Zion Johnson’s footsteps, Alabama offensive guard Emil Ekiyor Jr. could be getting looks at a new position during his week in Mobile. After playing his last 26 games at right guard for the Tide, Ekiyor is reportedly going to take snaps at center. Some teams are even speculating that he could be a much better NFL center than guard, so if he is able to find success, his stock is going to rise immensely. Ekiyor will have an upper hand from a talent perspective coming from Alabama, so going against smaller school guys could help ease his transition. With any luck, Ekiyor could become another option in the middle of the line for New York, should they move on from Connor McGovern.