The bye week is the perfect opportunity for Jets fans to cleanse themselves of yet another disappointing start to the season.
It’s also the best time to look ahead to the future and see the talent that might call One Jets Drive home by this time next year.
New York is likely to land another top 10 draft pick with its 1-4 start to the season. Robert Saleh’s team is currently projected to pick fourth in the 2022 NFL draft. The Jets also have another first-round selection in their back pocket thanks to the Jamal Adams trade with the Seahawks.
There is a good chance Joe Douglas finds himself in a prime position to land multiple top-tier talents in the first round of this year’s draft. Two players that will be high on New York’s board are Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux and LSU cornerback Derrick Stingley Jr. Jets fans won’t be able to watch either play on Saturday, though, as Thibodeaux played against the University of California in a Friday night thriller and Stingley Jr. is currently out with an injury.
Watching elite Michigan pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson is also off the table, as the Wolverines are on their bye week. The same goes for Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton.
So, which elite college prospects should the Gang Green faithful have their eyes on Saturday? Here are six players to watch.
Florida CB Kaiir Elam
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Elam, the son of former Jets safety Abram Elam, has seen substantial playing time in Florida’s secondary since he was a true freshman and was named a second-team All-SEC selection last season for his play at cornerback. Elam is strong in coverage and is an impressive athlete with a good frame at 6-foot-2 and 193 pounds. The 20-year-old will have his work cut out for him against LSU’s talented group of wide receivers on Saturday afternoon.
Texas A&M IOL Kenyon Green
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The Jets have a serious problem at right guard and Green has the talent to step in and fix it from day one. Texas A&M’s 6-foot-4, 325-pound star interior offensive lineman plays with professional-level technique and uses his raw strength to overpower opposing defensive linemen on nearly every play. Jets fans can see that domination on display against Missouri’s horrific run defense, which is led by former Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks, and dream about a duo of Green and Alijah Vera-Tucker.
Alabama LB Christian Harris
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Harris is the best inside linebacker in college football and is a new age player at the position with his combination of size and speed at 6-foot-2 and 232 pounds. Harris is more of a target with the Seahawks’ first-round pick than the Jets’ own selection, but landing him and playing him next to former fellow Alabama star C.J. Mosley would make New York’s front seven an intimidating bunch. He’ll be in action against Mississippi State at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday night.
NC State OT Ikem Ekwonu
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Ekwonu is the best offensive lineman in the Atlantic Coast Conference and has graded out as one of the best offensive tackles in the nation so far this season. The Athletic called him the “most feared offensive lineman in the ACC” in the preseason and that has shown on film, as Ekwonu has dominated opposing pass rushers with ease. Next up on Ekwonu’s path of destruction is Boston College and its lowly pass rush on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET on the ACC Network.
Georgia CB Derion Kendrick
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The former Clemson star surfaced at Georgia during the offseason and has dominated for the Bulldogs so far this season. Cornerback is the Jets’ most glaring need right now and Kendrick is arguably the best player on a Georgia defense that is currently the best in college football. Kendrick and his unit will be put to the test against No. 11 Kentucky in the best game of the weekend at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS.
Iowa IOL Tyler Linderbaum
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Connor McGovern has not been bad at center so far this season, but he is not the long-term answer at the position. Linderbaum is far and away the best center in college football and comes from an Iowa program that has a long history of churning out solid NFL offensive linemen — the latest being Tampa Bay’s Tristan Wirfs. Going with a center in the first round is never a sexy pick, but Douglas has shown he doesn’t care about being flashy in the draft. Linderbaum could be the Jets’ guy with the Seahawks’ first-round selection depending on where the pick falls. Linderbaum and his second-ranked Iowa team host Purdue on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET.