After coming into December with a 7-4 record, the Jets’ offense was nonexistent during the final six games of the season.
During that stretch, Gang Green averaged an NFL-low 11 points per game. Because of the dismal finish on offense, the Jets (7-10) will undoubtedly look to make significant upgrades on that side of the ball this offseason.
The Senior Bowl next week will be the first opportunity this offseason for Jets brass to look at the standout collegiate players as they compete against each other in practice and then in the Feb. 4 game in Mobile, Ala. Players will also interview with teams before next month’s NFL Combine.
Here are the five offensive players to watch during this year’s Senior Bowl.
DAWAND JONES, OT, OHIO STATE
Left tackle Paris Johnson Jr., who will be a top-15 pick, has overshadowed him a bit at Ohio State, but Jones is a top prospect in his own right.
At 6-8, 359 pounds, Jones was a full-time starter for Ohio State the last two seasons. He was a consensus All-American at right tackle this year, the first Buckeye to do so since Pro Football Hall of Famer Orlando Pace in 1996.
During his time at Ohio State, Jones allowed just four sacks. He isn’t the quickest tackle prospect, but Jones makes up for it with his strength and excellent technique, as he obviously received great coaching as a Buckeye.
Jones is likely a Day 2 pick in April’s draft, but he could elevate his stock with a great week in Mobile. With all of their offensive line issues last season, Jones could be a player the team keeps a close eye on.
MAX DUGGAN, QB, TCU
Many casual fans will remember Duggan putting the Horned Frogs on his back all year as he helped them reach the national championship game.
In 15 games, Duggan threw for 3,698 yards with 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions while completing 63.7% of his passes in 2022. He also rushed for 423 yards and nine TDs.
Duggan began the year as TCU’s backup. Chandler Morris was initially the Horned Frogs starter, but he sprained his knee in the season opener. Duggan replaced him and never gave the job back.
In TCU coach Sonny Dykes’ pass-happy system that uses a lot of RPOs (Run Pass Option), Duggan was a rational decision-maker with enough arm strength to get the ball down the field. However, his accuracy at times was questionable as was evident during the blowout loss to Georgia in the title game. Duggan completed 14 of 22 passes for 152 yards and two interceptions in the 65-7 loss to Georgia.
No matter what the Jets decide to do at the quarterback position this offseason, they should consider choosing a QB on Day 3 of the draft. Duggan would be a solid choice for them in the later rounds of the draft in April.
NATHANIEL DELL, WR, HOUSTON
The Jets selected Garrett Wilson in the first round of last year’s draft. But Gang Green should be in the market for another receiver during this draft cycle and Dell could be an excellent fit for an offense that needs a true home run hitter.
Dell is only 5-11, but he has the speed and athleticism to beat defenders at all three levels. In 13 games, Dell caught 109 passes for 1,398 yards and 17 touchdowns for the Cougars.
Dell’s size at 165 pounds is a concern for some teams and will likely be why he’s chosen in the fourth or fifth round. But if he’s available early on the third day of the draft, the Jets could consider taking a flyer on this speedster.
XAVIER HUTCHINSON, WR, IOWA STATE
Dell isn’t the only receiver the Jets should consider drafting, as Hutchinson, at 6-3, 205 pounds, would provide the team with a bigger target who can separate from defenders.
Don’t let his size fool you, Hutchinson has enough moves in terms of shifting away from cornerbacks and safeties. He might not be a burner compared to some receiver prospects, but he was great in contested catches at Iowa State as he would win most 50-50 jump balls.
Last season for the Cyclones, Hutchinson recorded 107 catches for 1,171 yards and six touchdowns. With a fantastic showing during Senior Bowl week, Hutchinson could be a third-round pick.
CHASE BROWN, RB, ILLINOIS
Now I know what you’re thinking, why would the Jets select a running back when Breece Hall is returning in 2023? Hall is coming off a season-ending ACL injury and it could be some time before he regains the form he displayed during the first seven games. Giants running back Saquon Barkley had a down 2021 season (593 rushing yards) coming off his ACL injury before being fourth in the league in rushing in 2022 (1,312).
Brown has an excellent combination of explosiveness, speed and willingness to initiate contact with defenders. In 12 games for the Fighting Illini, Brown rushed for 1,643 yards and 10 TDs, averaging 5.0 yards per carry. He also caught 27 passes for 240 yards and three touchdowns.
After Hall’s injury, the Jets offense was never the same. They only won two games following a 5-2 start to the season. Drafting a running back like Brown in the later rounds would take pressure off Hall while providing the team with another playmaker in the backfield.