Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comThe roster is never set for the season in the beginning of April, as the five starting rookies from last season can attest. With twelve picks in what has been stated is one of the deepest draft classes in recent memory, the Jets still have areas of need. With those twelve picks, we fully expect them to fill those needs between now and next Sunday. Here’s our quick look at the Jets positions of need and some players that might end up with the Jets. Next up, wide receiver.
Current Status: The Jets landed one of the best receivers in free agency when they brought in Eric Decker from the Broncos. Even so, the Jets need to consider finding a young prospect who can take on the No. 1 mantel for this team in time. Jeremy Kerley could soar in a slot role this season and David Nelson is a nice short yardage and red zone threat for the team, but the questions around Stephen Hill’s future make finding another pass-catcher a distinct reality.
Day One Options: Odell Beckham Jr. (LSU), Brandin Cooks (Oregon State), Marqise Lee (University of Southern California)
Sammy Watkins (Clemson) and Mike Evans (Texas A&M) would be holy grails (size, speed, NFL ready hands) for this Jets team, but for the Jets to get either player, they would have too move up to the top ten. Odell Beckham Jr. might still be there for the Jets at 18, but he too might be gone by the time the Jets draft at 18 because he’s the third ranked receiver and there are many teams with receiver needs ahead of the Jets. Rotoworld’s Josh Norris wrote back in March that “Beckham Jr. is the third ranked receiver in this class, but it would not shock me if he ultimately ended up the best of the group.” Beckham was the Tigers’ deep threat, something that would work well with either Smith or Vick as the team’s quarterback. Beckham might have average size, but combines speed with explosiveness and good hands. Brandin Cooks is small, but could the deep speed threat to help the Jets stretch a defense. Cooks seems like this year’s best approximation of the DeSean Jackson role that Marty Mornhinweg has been looking to fill since arriving in New York last year. Morhinweg attended Cooks’ pro day personally to see him up close, before Cooks took an invite from the Jets. Another player in the mix at the middle of the first round is USC’s Marqise Lee who had to deal with a lot of nonsense at USC in 2013 which put a damper on his 2012 production.
Day Two Options: Cody Latimer (Indiana), Donte Moncrief (Ole Miss), Paul Richardson (Colorado), Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt)
There’s a lot of compelling Day Two options, but it might depend on just where the run on second-day receivers starts. Latimer has been rocketing up draft boards, but I still think he might be available at the middle of the second round, assuming three or four receivers go off the board in the first 17 picks of the first round. Latimer is fast and strong but needs some polishing of his technique. Donte Moncrief might be a player that the Jets are quietly hoping lasts to their second round draft pick. Big and fast, he might not have the burst that some of the first round players have, but he projects well for the NFL. Richardson has a slight frame (6’0″ 170 lbs), but he looks like another NFL deep threat based on his speed and hands. Jordan Matthews will likely last into the third round, but works well against off coverage and has demonstrated strong hands at times. He’s also shown a promising ability to create yards after the catch, but does best in screen situations.
Day Three Options: Kevin Norwood (Alabama), Josh Huff (Oregon), John Brown (Pittsburgh State), Matt Hazel (Coastal Carolina)
Kevin Norwood is an older (24) prospect with a lanky frame who could benefit from an NFL conditioning schedule and to work on his pad level, but the former Alabama receiver has decent size and speed with consistent hands. Huff has big-play potential, but has had some concentration lapses during his time at Oregon. Brown is a D-II prospect and is fast (4.3 40 yard dash) but diminutive and might have reached his physical max based on his body type. Hazel is a technically sound receiver with consistent hands and can create separation. Moving up from the sub-conference might make for a longer transition for Hazel, but the receiver could be a contributor at the NFL with a little patience.