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New York Jets Team Needs: Wide Receiver

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New York Jets Team Needs: Wide Receiver

2014-02-28 15:26:23

-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Marqise Lee was one of college football’s top returners. (Image Source: USA TODAY Sports Images)

If there’s one thing that every NFL analyst can agree on, it’s that the New York Jets top priority this offseason is addressing the wide receiver position.

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock speculated that the team would look hard at drafting a wide receiver with their first round pick and could use multiple draft picks on wide receivers this season.

“I wouldn’t be surprised at all, if the Jets pick multiple wide receivers this year,” Mayock said in a conference call with the media prior to the NFL Scouting Combine, which concluded on Tuesday. “You’re sitting there at 18, I’ve said earlier I think any one of three receivers sitting there. Marqise Lee (USC) who is a different guy that fits in that slot, outside and helps in the return game, versus the two big-bodied guys—(Mike) Evans (Texas A&M) and (Kelvin) Benjamin (Florida State).

“I think all three of them are talented enough to work with that group. (Jeremy) Kerley’s already a slot, (Santonio) Holmes is at the end of his career, Stephen Hill’s an outside guy. I just think you pick less about X’s and O’s … my perspective would be you can’t go wrong with Marquise Lee or Mike Evans.”

Before we get into potential draft targets, let’s take a look at the three wide outs currently on the Jets roster that Mayock mentioned. Kerley is a keeper for sure, but is best suited to be a number three/slot receiver. Who knows how much longer Holmes will play in the league, but his Jets career is certainly coming to its end, sooner rather than later.

As for Hill, the physically talented former second-round pick is approaching full-on bust status after two rather pedestrian campaigns. This will be his third season in the league and while it’s too early to give up on the speedy wide out, the Jets simply cannot count on him for 2014, even if he comes back 100 percent healthy.

Back to the draft prospects. Luckily for the Jets the wide receiver position maybe the deepest in what has been called a very deep draft class. In other words, if there was a year where a team could benefit from drafting multiple wide outs, this is the year.

Clemson’s Sammy Watkins will be long gone when the Jets pick at No. 18, but there will be more than one quality receiver available when it’s New York’s turn to pick.

By virtue of 4.52 40-yard dash, there’s a decent chance that Lee could be there. Had the USC man ran a 4.4 flat he would have surely gone in the top 15, if not top 10. While Lee lacks ideal size and speed, the kid is a playmaker who can stretch the field, make plays after the catch and contribute on special teams. Maybe he didn’t run a great 40-yard dash but go and try to find game tape where Lee gets caught from behind.

With a similar 4.53 40-time, but from a 6’5”, 231-pound frame, it looks like Mike Evans has emerged as the popular pick as the No. 2 receiver in this class and there’s a good chance he will be gone when the Jets are on the clock. Benjamin ran just a 4.61, but he’s even bigger than Evans at 240 pounds. The former Florida State Seminole is also a little less polished than most of the other wide outs in the first- and second-round conversation.  

Two other receivers with blazing speed that New York should consider are LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. (4.43) and Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks (4.33). If size is what they want Jordan Matthews (6’3”) of Vanderbilt helped his cause with a 4.46 40-time, faster than most expected.

Two more wide outs with size and speed that could be real sleepers leading up to the draft are underclassman Martavis Bryant (Clemson) and Donte Moncrief (Ole Miss). The 6’4” Bryant ran a 4.42 40 and is blessed with long arms (32 5/8”). Moncrief surprised some by running the 40 in 4.40 seconds and he tipped the scales at 221 pounds.

Other receivers they could target in the first two rounds include Davante Adams (Fresno State), Jarvis Landry (LSU), Allen Robinson (Penn State) and Bruce Ellington (South Carolina). Robinson is a tremendous leaper and very explosive, while Ellington is an open-field dynamo, a big play waiting to happen.

In terms of potential free agents, early reports had the Jets interested in Jeremy Maclin and Emmanuel Sanders, while Eric Decker is considered to be the cream of the crop if the Jets are willing to pony up to sign the Bronco. Other intriguing names include those of rivals, both divisional in the case of New England’s Julian Edelman, as well as local, Hakeem Nicks of the New York Giants.

They all have some flaws. Maclin is coming off a missed season due to injury, Nicks is coming off a down campaign, while Sanders and Decker have never been No. 1 options. Edelman is more of a slot receiver, who benefitted from playing with Tom Brady, just as Decker did, catching passes from Peyton Manning.

Bottom line, even if the Jets keep Kerley, Hill and David Nelson, who is a capable backup, they will need to add at least one, probably two, starting caliber wide outs this offseason.

Related Links:

New York Jets Team Needs: Quarterback

New York Jets Team Needs: Running Back

Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards. 

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