5 defensive line/linebackers to watch for Jets during Day 1 of NFL Scouting Combine

Jets players to target at NFL Combine
Alabama linebacker Henry To’oTo’o speaks during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine, Wednesday, March 1, 2023, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)
AP Photos

The 2023 NFL Scouting Combine is finally upon us, and it’s a great opportunity for the New York Jets to find the next crop of young prospects to help end their decade-long playoff drought. 

Following last season’s draft class which was just the third in NFL history to house both the offensive and defensive rookies of the year, New York understands the importance of these scouting chances. Luckily for them, even though they finished at a disappointing 7-10, there’s still plenty of optimism surrounding the team going into 2023. 

So as the NFL Combine begins, let’s take a look at five names from each group that could be of interest to the New York Jets. 

BJ Ojulari 

Ojulari already has a New York connection with his brother Azeez as a member of the Giants. That being said, the Jets could certainly argue they don’t need to waste a top pick on a pass-rushing dynamo like Ojulari. Still, the general rule of thumb is that you can never have too many pass rushers. Ojulari has a low second-round/late first-round grade and could springboard himself with a strong showing at the NFL Combine this week. 

Noah Sewell

Another younger brother to a current NFL player. Noah Sewell won’t be going as high as his top left tackle brother, but he’s still a solid linebacker who can run end-to-end. He’s not as fast as other linebackers in his class, but he does have the power that teams could look for against the run. It’s almost too good an opportunity to pass up a late pick on a player who can help on special teams right away and potentially grow into a good run defender. 

Luke Van Ness

One of the top pass-rushing projects in this draft, it’s hard to pinpoint where Van Ness could go in April’s draft. The Iowa defender has tape full of splash plays and is very technically sound, but could need a few years to develop into a top-tier defender. In reality, the similarities between Van Ness and Jermaine Johnson aren’t too far behind. This could be an intriguing prospect here at 13 for the Jets. 

Calijah Kancey

Kancey might be one of my favorite picks in the draft that may not go as high as people realize. Kancey is an athletic freak coming out of Pittsburgh. Considered a smaller Aaron Donald is no easy feat, but the undersized defensive tackle has the pass-rushing prowess to be a dynamic player for the Jets should they try and go this route. Imagine an athletic freak like Kancey matched together with Quinnen Williams.

Henry To’oTo’o

To’oTo’o is a difficult linebacker to project where he’ll eventually end up going. His total score in terms of ranking per NFL.com is a top 10 player at the linebacking position in his class. But is he a day two or day three prospect? The Alabama defender was technically sound although not splashy while possessing the necessary traits to become a plus-size starter in the NFL. The question will be where teams want him to play. 

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