Late round vs. early round philosophies

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It was a Day Three . . .

of the draft that made a lot of sense for the Jets landing Pittsburgh offensive tackle Carter Warren, Pittsburgh running back Israel Abanikanda, Western Michigan linebacker Zaire Barnes, LSU CB/S Jarrick Bernard-Converse and Old Dominion tight end Zack Kuntz.

Let’s go back to front:

Kuntz is the perfect seventh-round value pick. From the Harrisburg area, he started his career at Penn State, but didn’t get on the field a lot, so he transferred to a Non-Power Five Conference school, Old Dominion, where he joined former Penn State offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne, who got the head coaching job there in 2021.

Kuntz had a solid season his first year with Rahne and ODU finishing with 73 receptions and five touchdowns, but he hurt his knee in late October, ending his final season with the Monarchs prematurely.

The reason he is a perfect seventh-round pick is that it’s a good round to pick players with things like good size/speed ratios, but who need some work and that is Kuntz. He’s 6-7, 255 with 4.55 speed. Those are outstanding triangle numbers. However, he needs a lot of work on his blocking and also must improve the consistency of his hands. There were reasons he had a hard time getting on the field at Penn State.

So you take a flyer on a guy like this, try to polish this diamond in the rough, and hope you have something down the road.

Bernard-Converse is a college cornerback who had an eye-popping 56 college starts. After four years at Oklahoma State, he transferred to LSU. With Covid, players got an extra year of eligibility, and it was always the Shreveport native’s dream to play for his home-state LSU Tigers, so he used his extra year of eligibility to do that.

He played corner at Oklahoma State and LSU, but will likely have to move to safety in the NFL due to average speed and hip stiffness.

Another good idea in the late rounds is to take a good college player who might project to a different position in the NFL. The Jets did this with Pitt cornerback Jason Pinnock a couple of years ago. They picked him as a corner in the fifth round and eventually moved him to safety, and now he’s playing that position with the New York Giants, who claimed him when the Jets waived him last summer.

This is a good way to handle the draft.

You roll the dice in the late rounds with size-speed projects like Kuntz, and guys who might have to switch positions.

So the last couple of rounds are for experiments if you will.

Juxtapose this to the first two rounds where you want to land two bonafide starters.

The great Ozzie Newsome, the long-time Baltimore Ravens executive, who Joe Douglas worked for from 2000-14, believed that in the first two rounds, you need to pick players who were very consistent in college, week-in, week-out producing on a high level. These aren’t the rounds for guys who might have potential, but were wildly inconsistent on the college level.

So that is exactly what the Jets landed with Iowa State edge-rusher Will McDonald in the first round and Wisconsin center Joe Tippman in the second round.

We will continue are look at the Jets third-day picks on Tuesday.

May 1, 2023

Premium will return by 9:30 pm on Tuesday.

Dan Leberfeld
Dan Leberfeld
Publisher of Jets Confidential Magazine. Call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4) to subscribe. Co-host of Press Coverage every Saturday on SiriusXM NFL Radio from 11-2.

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