2014 NFL Draft: Ranking the wide receivers – Part 1

NCAA Football: Orange Bowl-Ohio State vs Clemson

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

Just yesterday, Jets head coach Rex Ryan (and general manager John Idzik) were spotted at the LSU Pro Day.  Here’s a picture of Ryan with his twin Rob, DC of the Saints.  While LSU always has a substantial pipeline to the NFL, the big name this year (other than the surging Zach Mettenberger) is the team’s promising receiver, Odell Beckham, Jr..

Over the last few weeks, Rex Ryan, John Idzik and offensive coordinator Marty Morhinweg have been seen far and wide attending the Pro Days of some of the best receivers in this class and it just so happens that wide receiver is one of the strongest and deepest positions in this draft class.

With questions at quarterback and a Jets offense searching for an identity, wide receiver is one of the biggest needs for this team.  There’s not been six receivers picked in the first round since 2009 and 2014 might be the year to meet or break that number.  After passing up on DeSean Jackson among a number of other free agent receivers, selecting a receiver with one of the Jets first two draft picks looks like a very likely outcome.  While this is a highly talented group, after the first two players the field starts to spread out.  Do you want a ready-made average sized receiver?  A small speedster who can get behind a defense?  A hulking behemoth with technique concerns?  We’ll use this series to work through a number of the receivers expected to be drafted in the first two days of the NFL draft.

Without inside knowledge, it’s almost impossible to know who the Jets will rank where at the receiver position, but here’s what we suspect.

Out of reach (trade only)

These players are likely top ten NFL draft picks, especially with the news last week that the Bucs (a team with a top ten pick) traded away Mike Williams to the Bills.  

1. Sammy Watkins (6-1 211) – Clemson
Watkins is so good he is regularly compared to Calvin Johnson and it doesn’t seem a stretch.  Coming out of college, Watkins is one of the most complete receivers ready to step into a large NFL role and be almost any team’s top receiver from day one.

2. Mike Evans (6-4 231) – Texas A&M
Evans made a living out of catching Johnny Manziel jump balls in college and has the speed, physicality and size to be a highly productive NFL receiver within his first year  as a pro.

On the radar (in the mix)

At least one and maybe two of these players might be gone by the time comes for the Jets to make their selection at18.

3. Brandin Cooks (5-10 189) – Oregon State
Cooks is considered an elite athlete with explosive feet and burst … a bigger and slightly slower Tavon Austin.  Cooks does lack ideal size and will be limited in terms of how much more he can bulk up which might be a concern against man coverage.  On tape Cooks displays excellent body control and has the stop and start to get himself into the open.  Once in the open, Cooks has the vision and patience to move between defenders to devastating effect in terms of yards after the catch.  His acceleration, coupled with high end speed project him to become an electric playmaker in the NFL.  Cooks has solid technique that he’ll bring to the NFL as college’s 2013 Biletnikoff Award winner and the nation’s top receiver.

The Jets have shown some interest in Cooks, sending Marty Mornhinweg to his Pro Day.  It’s no small thing that it was Morhinweg who attended.  Morhinweg watched DeSean Jackson up close during their time together in Philly and the Jets have been looking for a Tavon Austin / DeSean Jackson element to add to this offense since last year.  The Jets are planning to bring in Cooks for an April visit prior the Draft to get a closer look.

4. Odell Beckham Jr. (5-11 198) – LSU
While he isn’t the fastest player, Beckham is a smooth athlete with good acceleration.  Beckham has good burst out of his cuts to move past press coverage and he is most dangerous once the ball is in his hands.  Beckham has demonstrated some of the best field vision and redirects his momentum extremely well.  Beckham is considered an electric playmaker with excellent technique and has gotten much better during his college career at bringing in the football and limiting drops.

Beckham only has average height and strength, but would do well with an NFL strength program.  Beckham might lack the elite speed which could him a little more susceptible working agains the middle of a defense because he’ll be tackled from behind or could be more likely to cause durability issues.  Beckham needs work as a blocker.

5. Marquise Lee (5-11 192) – USC

Lee has explosive straight-line speed that will be a cause for concern for NFL cornerbacks, that said, he doesn’t have the best timed speed.  Regardless, Lee is a fluid athlete, capable who can change directions quickly and get in and out of cuts quick which is only magnified by his solid route-running.  Lee’s vision and elusiveness make him great after the catch and he is a natural receiver able to pluck the the ball effortlessly over the should anywhere on the field.  While he can be aggressive and plays bigger than his size he’s still not a size-speed freak like Watkins or Evans and has struggled with injuries in 2013.  Lee is an extremely competitive player and is better on film than on the measurement sheet.  Known for his technique, he’d land well in a timing based NFL offense.  The Jets must be somewhat interested as they spent time with Lee after the USC Pro Day.




335 comments
UncleJoesJetFarm
UncleJoesJetFarm

Good Morning dude Jets! I smell a CJ signing. I think while we were all sleeping, Idzik has been at the wheel!

metjetnet
metjetnet

(miketaliaferro) Actually, my dream fave is Evans. I'd love for us to trade up to grab him. He seems exactly the type of player to excel w/Gino, and who could most help Gino grow & develop. He'd also be perfect on busted plays with Vick.

metjetnet
metjetnet

(miketaliaferro) To me, it doesn't matter who, specifically, they draft in Rd. 1. Ignoring need, I hope they pick a contributing beast, regardless of position.

GratefulJet
GratefulJet

All 4 NFL network analysts  on path to the draft (Brooks, Jeremiah, Curtis Conway , and  Charlie Casserly ) all have ODB as the number 3 receiver on their board.  Casserly sees him as a better Michael Crabtree.

WW85
WW85

I'm starting to think Idzik will go CB rd 1   They never picked a WR/TE in Seattle in rd 1 & the Eagles only did it once with MM. I just think Idzik may have a computer model showing odds of 1st rd success ratio & it says avoid WR. I'm just guessing. But the guy is very methodical.

Pat d
Pat d

Combine numbers is not how you pick a WR. Hopefully the Jets get the best route runner in this draft, Lee. If not Lee then Beckham or Cooks.

a57se
a57se

FSU WR Kelvin Benjamin "blew off" a workout with an NFL coach who made a "special trip" for the visit, according to NFL.com's Gil Brandt.

Per Brandt, Benjamin said he was "too tired." We aren't sure if the specified coach was a head or positional coach, but this is not positive buzz. Benjamin was slow to develop during his time at FSU and broke out on the scene during his 23 year-old redshirt sophomore season. He still had lapses in concentration, which led to a drop rate over nine percent. 

That is how you turn off an NFL team.......but I imagine these guys aren't quite used to being pulled in 40 directions at once.

NYCPEinGermany
NYCPEinGermany

I find it funny that people write stuff like this a lot:

"There’s not been six receivers picked in the first round since 2009 and 2014 might be the year to meet or break that number."

Usually, when I see "There’s not been six receivers picked in the first round since..." I'd expect it to be followed by a year like, 1979, 1985 - a long time ago. It hasn't happened in 5 years. What's the big deal about that?

JCuratola3
JCuratola3

I want ODB or Cooks at 18. Cooks more because he is from a pro style offense and he compliments decker well and gives Geno his Tavon back. WW85 posted this before to Kirk Michael its spot on 


"   Cooks did 16 reps & ODB did 7. Cooks is solidly faster, never injured. Both excellent WRs, but the way you dis Cooks is insane. The entire OSU offense keyed off Cooks & defenses went after him every game & he still had 18 TDs. "


Cooks size is no issue he is LEGIT. Take this man at 18.

WW85
WW85

Yeah Casserly thinks ODBJ could be tremendous. I think Cooks is very special. But I respect Casserly a lot. The guy is very honest and has no agenda. At the end of the day I think Idzik will go CB with the pick anyway.

Bent
Bent moderator

@GratefulJet  I hope that doesn't mean he's going to hold out most of his rookie year and then miss most of the penultimate year of his contract through injury.

Hazard2012
Hazard2012

@WW85  


I'm not sure such a model would show a lower/longer success rate for WR's than say CB's.   Learning curve is long for both.  


There's all kind of ways to approach this draft because of the fluidity of the board, the fuzzy separation re talent at so many positions, and the unclear priorities of the Jets brain trust.   


It's not that we need just one or two positions, nor are we going to fill all those needs in this draft or in even this off-season.    I don't think any of us have a firm idea of what Idzik will do, and while that's probably driving all of us a little crazy that's probably also helping him obscure what his strategy will be once the clock starts and that could maximize his bargaining position at 18.   

bobbyj
bobbyj

This is a crazy draft. I've followed the draft for a long time, went once, & I can't remember the last time I witnessed such a difference of opinions on what is going to transpire ( of corse they had to push it to May ) I think the Jets will go best player available, not only because Idzik has stated he would do so, but also because we have so many needs. Let's say an elite Tackle drops to us, do we take him? Yep. We could use a player on the Oline, LB falls yep, Safety, yep, CB, yep...QB you bet. I believe the one place the Jets will not go is because they're are just too many misses on WR's in the first rd. Bottom line, we need talent, so you take what falls

johnnyl65
johnnyl65

@a57se  That's a shame the guy is a man the kid is a physical beast, it's one of those attributes that can't be taught. i hope this is a ploy to scare off the teams he doesn't want and not just plain laziness.

Bent
Bent moderator

@Disgruntled Jets Fan  Wasn't the reason we were discussing this because I'd linked to it in the original post?

Bent
Bent moderator

@jake100  Isn't that pretty much the opposite of what he's doing (and with good reason)?

GratefulJet
GratefulJet

@WW85  I really like the NFL network commentators, other than Heath Evans.  Most of them are pretty professional and interact well.  I wish SNY could tailor their coverage that way.

WW85
WW85

@Hazard2012  I think it's become somewhat accepted that WRs are sexy but low %age 1st rd picks.

MPTG_Frank
MPTG_Frank

Really Really disagree about Lee. He catches the ball like the last guy picked in a touch tackle game in the schoolyard.

a57se
a57se

@jaygo @a57se 

I am not smirking at it. Quite the contrary, I'd imagine there would be quite the discussion in the Jets war room if Manziel would fall to 18...........he fits the type of QB we seem to be targeting right now. Mobile, dual threat guys. i would think the Jets draft board would be quite shaken up if manziel is there.

JCuratola3
JCuratola3

@Disgruntled Jets Fan @JCuratola3  Then what matters? because i have heard it all.. it doesnt matte that hes strong.. it doesnt matter that hes fast.. it doesnt matter that he was in double coverage every game.. it doesnt matter that he's the most durable wr coming out.. it doesnt matter that hes from a pro style offense.. it doesnt matter that he holds the best shuttle record.. no none of that matters right?


Shutup 

Monty
Monty

@Bent @jake100I dont think so . Hes obviously betting very heavy on the draft. The owner said win now..and he still  hasn't gainfully upgraded the team and has received flak for it.. if he doesn't draft a winner hes in a lot of trouble.

MPTG_Frank
MPTG_Frank

Heath Evans, is an agenda driven disgrace. And is the best reason to reach for the remote, not named Kardashian.

GratefulJet
GratefulJet

@Bent Yeah , that play was another example of Sanchez lack of pocket presence, it was as if he was thinking they were being nice to him and not going to hit him when that dude said f* this, and pounded him.   I don't disagree when Woody said you have to protect yourself, why didn't he try to throw that ball as he got out of bounds.  He acted as if he had the red jersey on.


Bent
Bent moderator

@jake100 @Bent @jaygo @a57se  Brian Winters was blocking the guy who hit Sanchez.  He started 12 games in front of Geno.


What was the alternative?  Not play him at all while he's trying to win the starting job?  Leave the starting linemen in for longer risking injury to them?  Give fewer reps to their rookie starter who desperately needed them?


I contend that all three of these would have been just as stupid, if not moreso than thinking a fifth year veteran would be smart enough not to hold the ball too long and get himself hurt in such a situation.


By the way, he was hit after 5.4 seconds on that play.  I just timed it.

UncleJoesJetFarm
UncleJoesJetFarm

@Bent @jaygo @a57se  Bent , come on! Sanchez was put in, in a meaningless PRESEASON game LATE when he was being considered for the starting job, with players that would not EVER play in the NFL and are now stocking shelves at Wallmart. No way can that ever be justified and obviously it had horrible results. 

Bent
Bent moderator

@jaygo @a57se  Rex was blasted for putting Sanchez behind the second string line for one drive.


Tom Coughlin put Eli behind an offensive line of comparable ability for a whole year!

a57se
a57se

@jaygo

Fair enough....I just don't really care about the stupid media......I got over them a long time ago.

Being able to string a few words or thoughts together makes them think they are somehow smarter than anyone else...........

a57se
a57se

@Disgruntled Jets Fan

Thanks to you arguing about something totally unrelated to the conversation i was having and totally irrlevant to the point being made.

a57se
a57se

@jaygo

picture perfect, but WTF cares except the people in houston?

juunit
juunit

@jaygo @a57se 

At the very least, Manziel would make for an interesting ride. 

a57se
a57se

@jaygo

I would struggle with the choice but I think I would still go with Beckham. Less risk in my mind.

JCuratola3
JCuratola3

@juunit @JCuratola3 @Disgruntled Jets Fan  You must not watch football? CBS are allowed to bump WRs through 5 yards between LOS. Benching is chest. You push things the same way you bench.. using your arms and chest. Strong recievers can fight through bumps.. weak ones cant. 

Disgruntled Jets Fan
Disgruntled Jets Fan

@JCuratola3 @Disgruntled Jets Fan  If you're relaxed perhaps you may wish to refrain from telling others to shut up.


Overall strength, perhaps.  The bench measures very specific muscles doing a very specific movement. 


There's no data indicating WR prospects who bench more become better NFL receivers.