Senior Bowl preview: Potential Jets targets

The first Senior Bowl I covered was 1990. The New York Jets had a new general manager, Dick Steinberg, and they owned the second pick in the draft, so they were a hot story, as we say in the biz.

Late in the game, I pulled up a chair next to Steinberg in the press box and asked him about a few players, namely running back Blair Thomas. The former Penn State star ran all over the place and would be named the game's MVP.

"My grandmother could tell you he was the best player on the field," Steinberg told me.

Granny needed a new set of binoculars. Steinberg, too. The Jets picked Thomas and ... well, you know the rest of the story. It didn't have a happy ending.

I'm not covering this year's Senior Bowl (3 p.m. Saturday) in Mobile, Ala., but it's always interesting to track prospects on TV. You never know, they could end up being drafted by the Jets. Here are some players to watch, based on the Jets' draft needs:


Jimmy Garoppolo, quarterback, Eastern Illinois -- He was the talk of Mobile all week, impressing with his arm and sound throwing mechanics. The 6-foot-2 signal-caller put up huge numbers in college, but he has to prove he can do it against top competition. The Jets have three quarterbacks under contract, but we know GM John Idzik isn't shy about adding competition.

Tajh Boyd, quarterback, Clemson -- The Jets' scouts interviewed Boyd, according to the New York Post. Rex Ryan is familiar with Boyd because his son, Seth, is a walk-on receiver at Clemson. He has some accuracy issues, but he went 32-8 as a starter.

Jordan Matthews, wide receiver, Vanderbilt -- The Jets need wide receivers, and he's a potential second-rounder, so that makes Matthews a must-watch. He has great size (6-foot-3, 209 pounds) and he caught 112 passes for 1,477 yards last season.

Morgan Moses, tackle, Virginia -- The Jets will be in the market for a right tackle if they lose Austin Howard in free agency, and we all know how they love Virginia tackles. (See D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Oday Aboushi.) Moses is the 29th-rated prospect in the draft, according to Scouts, Inc. He was a right tackle before moving to the left side last season.

Josh Huff, wide receiver, Oregon -- He's considered a late-round prospect at this point, but scouts were buzzing about his deep speed in practice. He caught 62 passes for 1,140 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.


Trent Murphy, outside linebacker, Stanford -- Whether or not they re-sign Calvin Pace, the Jets need an edge rusher with speed. Murphy, projected as a second-rounder, racked up 14 sacks last season for a very good Cardinal defense. There are questions about his burst, so this will be a chance to prove the scouts wrong.

Dee Ford, defensive end, Auburn -- At 6-foot-2, 243 pounds, Ford projects to outside linebacker in the Jets' system. He's an explosive edge rusher who could go in the middle rounds.

Jerry Attaochu, outside linebacker, Georgia Tech -- No projection here; he played the position in college, recording 12 sacks last season. Some feel he's the best edge rusher in the Senior Bowl, but he looks like a mid-round prospect at this point.

Jaylen Watkins, cornerback, Florida -- Ryan loves him some man-to-man corners, and Watkins might be the best in this game. The Jets could have a big need, depending on how the Antonio Cromartie situation plays out.

Dez Southward, safety, Wisconson -- He's a versatile safety who can play in the box or in pass coverage. Southward looks like a late-round prospect at this point, but we know Ryan doesn't like investing high picks in safeties.