AFC East: 2014 NFL scouting combine

Scouting combine: Final thoughts

February, 25, 2014
Feb 25
The NFL scouting combine wraps up Tuesday with on-field workouts for the defensive backs. We'll take this opportunity to put a bow on the combine, recapping it from a New York Jets' perspective:

1. Good hands people: This is one of those years where the Jets' top need marries with the strength of the draft. Everybody knows they want to rebuild at wide receiver, and the combine reinforced the widespread belief that receiver is perhaps the deepest position. Nearly all of the top wideouts performed well in drills, with Mike Evans (Texas A&M), Brandin Cooks (Oregon State), Odell Beckham Jr. (LSU) and Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt) helping themselves the most. The Jets should be able to get a quality wideout with the 18th pick if they opt to go that route. The abundance of receivers could impact how they approach free agency.

2. Thin at tight end: The Jets may have to think twice about filling their tight-end need in the draft. North Carolina's Eric Ebron solidified his standing as the top tight end with a strong performance, but some of the other top prospects were limited by injuries. For players such as Jace Amaro (Texas Tech) and Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Washington), it means their pro days will carry greater importance. It's not a terribly deep position anyway.

3. Sanchez saga: The Jets met with Mark Sanchez's reps to discuss the quarterback's future. Nothing was settled, but Sanchez will be rehabbing in New Jersey this week, giving the Jets a chance to monitor his surgically-repaired throwing shoulder. One source said the chances of Sanchez returning are about 20 to 30 percent. Obviously, he'd have to accept a large pay cut. Look for this to play out until March 25, when a $2 million roster bonus is due -- or until they find his replacement.

4. Higher salary cap: The Jets aren't facing a cap squeeze, but it's always nice to have extra flexibility. The combine began with one report projecting the cap would increase to $130 million, up from $123 million last year. Then came another report saying it would be $132 million. The final number will be announced in the coming days. Either way, the Jets will have the ability to be aggressive in free agency. It'll be a departure from last year, when they were forced to bargain-shop.

5. Meet and greet: Teams were permitted to conduct 60 formal interviews at the combine. The Jets met with many of the top players, including Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles, but don't put too much stock in these sitdowns. It's called due diligence. They will conduct hundreds of player interviews by draft day. In some cases, the combine interview is just a starting point. Example: The Jets weren't blown away by Geno Smith last year, but they scheduled a follow-up on the eve of his pro day. That's when they became more comfortable with him.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The New York Jets and quarterback Mark Sanchez's representatives met Friday at the NFL scouting combine to discuss the quarterback's future with the team. While nothing was resolved in what was termed a preliminary discussion, the two sides agreed to maintain open lines of communication.

Sanchez, said to be progressing nicely from surgery on his throwing shoulder last October, will return to New Jersey next week to continue his rehab at the Jets' facility. That will allow the medical staff and decision-makers to get a first-hand look at Sanchez's arm/shoulder strength. On Thursday, coach Rex Ryan told reporters that Sanchez had resumed throwing. One source said the former starter has progressed to the point where he can throw with good zip on the ball. He's expected to be ready for training camp, possibly OTAs in the spring.

The two sides are operating under a March 25 deadline. The Jets have to make a decision by then because if Sanchez is on the roster on that date, they owe him a $2 million roster bonus -- and that won't happen. With a $9 million base salary, and a $13.1 million cap charge, Sanchez would have to take a significant pay cut to remain on the team. At this point, the Jets haven't played their hand. The expectation is that they will release him and acquire another veteran quarterback, with growing speculation in league circles that it could be free agent Michael Vick.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Rex Ryan believes his locker room would have no problem accepting an openly gay football player.

"I think he’d be welcome," said the New York Jets' coach Thursday at the NFL scouting combine, referring to Michael Sam, of course. "I don’t think he’d be any different than any other player we have. One thing I know for sure: You’re going to have 53 different players. They’re all different -- different religious beliefs, what they look like, height, weight, married, single.

"Everybody is different," Ryan continued. "The main thing we talk about is respect in our locker room. Even though everybody is different, it’s a respect thing. If a young man is good football player and a good teammate, that’s all we ask. He’d fit in just like the rest of our guys."

Later, in an interview with ESPN New York 98.7, Ryan said Sam "wouldn't be a problem in our room. I'm sure he'd fit right in." He added that he'd be "disappointed" if his locker room didn't embrace the former Missouri defensive end.

General manager John Idzik, addressing reporters at the combine, echoed Ryan's remarks. This was the organization's first public comment on Sam, who came out recently and could be the first openly gay player in the NFL.

Ryan declined to say if Sam would be a scheme fit for the Jets, saying he hasn't watched any tape of him. A shade under 6-2, the 255-pound Sam is considered a tweener -- too small to play defensive end, but not athletic enough to play linebacker. He's projected as a middle-round draft pick.

Wake-up call: Combine, Day 2

February, 20, 2014
Feb 20
On the schedule for Thursday in Indianapolis:

Local media: New York Jets coach Rex Ryan (2:45 p.m.) and general manager John Idzik (3 p.m.) are scheduled for news conferences. The hot topics will be the futures of Mark Sanchez, Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie; the draft and free agency; and the organization's first public comment on former Missouri DE Michael Sam. The New York Giants' media availability begins Friday.

Combine schedule: Placekickers, special teamers, offensive linemen and tight ends will undergo medical exams, measurements and team interviews. They also will be available to the media. ... Quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs arrive in town. They will have a medical pre-exam, X-rays, orientation and team interviews.

Players of interest: The Jets (18th overall pick) and Giants (12th) both have a need at tight end, so North Carolina's Eric Ebron -- the consensus top player at the position -- will be a focal point among the New York reporters. Ebron has the ability to light up the combine -- on and off the field. He's confident and entertaining, once bragging that his speed should be "illegal." He will be asked about his weight in light of a recent report that he put on extra pounds in an effort to become a better blocker. ... The Giants need help at offensive tackle, so Thursday's media session will offer a chance to meet first-round possibilities, namely Michigan's Taylor Lewan. We know how the Giants love those Big 10 linemen.

Combine watch list: New York Jets

February, 19, 2014
Feb 19
Looking at the scouting combine from a New York Jets' perspective, a few players that bear watching:

Mike Evans, Texas A&M, wide receiver: He has great size (6-foot-4) and ball skills, but scouts are curious to test his speed -- if he runs the 40-yard dash. As we know, some of the top prospects wait until their pro day to run the all-important 40. Evans could be in play for the Jets with the 18th pick. If he runs in the 4.4 range, he could challenge Clemson's Sammy Watkins for top receiver, according to ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. Insider.

Odell Beckham Jr., LSU, wide receiver: As noted on the watch list Insider, scouts are starting to get excited about Beckham Jr. as they watch tape from his late-season games. A strong combine could push him into the first round. ESPN's Todd McShay thinks Beckham could clock the fastest 40. Insider

Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech, quarterback: He has Colin Kaepernick size (6-5) and athleticism, but his throwing mechanics are unpolished. The Jets could be looking for a developmental quarterback in the later rounds.

Eric Ebron, North Carolina, tight end: The Jets are desperate for tight end help, and they have their eye on Ebron. Chances are, he'll light up the combine, which would be a bad thing for the Jets. He'd never last until the 18th pick.

Dee Ford, Auburn, defensive end/outside linebacker: He's an explosive edge rusher, and those are hard to find. It's not a pressing need for the Jets (it takes a back seat to their many needs on offense), but Ford would be hard to pass in the second round.

Andre Williams, Boston College, running back: It's not a huge positional need for the Jets, but we know they're not afraid to stockpile backs. Williams isn't generating any buzz, but he was one of the best players in the country last season and a Heisman finalist.