With the No. 104 pick in the NFL Draft, the Jets selected wide receiver Jalen Saunders out of Oklahoma. The Jets acquired this pick because of the Darrelle Revis trade.
Saunders is listed at 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds. Saunders began his career at Fresno State, where he had 80 receptions for 1,527 yards and 15 touchdowns in 26 games. Saunders transferred to Oklahoma after spring practice in 2012 because he did not like the way the program’s new coach, Tim DeRuyter, was using him for his offense.
While with Oklahoma, he had 113 receptions for 1,558 yards and 11 touchdowns. In 2013, he was named a third-team All-American as a punt returner by Athlon Sports and earned first-team All-Big 12 honors as a punt returner and kickoff returner from ESPN.com and Phil Steele. He was named to the All-Big 12 second team as a wide receiver by coaches and Phil Steele.
Scouts have said that Saunder’s strength is his speed and his soft hands, but they also point out he does have marginal size.
NFL’s draft profile projected him to be a fifth or sixth round selection.
During the NFL Network broadcast, Mike Mayock said of the Jets pick of Saunders that “when I first put on tape I fell in love. At 165 pounds he’s one of the most physical receivers in football.”
Bent, TheJetsBlog.comSaunders is really small, but he is physical for his size and has outstanding speed. His forty time doesn’t necessarily do that justice. Many Jets fans were hoping for a future number one receiver from this draft, but this is more of a depth move. Saunders will probably challenge for the punt returner role initially, but the Jets will be hoping he can bring some of his playmaking ability to the offense as he develops.
As you’ll recall, we reported on the Jets’ interest in Andrew Hawkins earlier on in the offseason, but the Jets opted not to bid for the restricted free agent once there were other teams pushing the price up. Saunders strikes me as the same type of player and obviously the Jets have some kind of role earmarked for a player with this kind of skill-set, so hopefully Saunders is the man for the job.
Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comAt 165 pounds, Saunders is something of an enigma. He was productive in replacement of Kenny Stills in the Oklahoma offense and he will add an explosive element to the Jets return game, whether on kicks or most likely on punts.
Saunders is obiously small, but he’s got good straight line speed (4.4 40 yard dashes) and he isn’t afraid of contact. One knock on Saunders is that he had some rather troubling tested speeds in agility drills in the lead up to the draft and that might have spiked his chances at being a Day Two pick. CBS Sports Rob Rang went as far as to call his timed speeds “shockingly slow” saying that the results raised “questions about how much Oklahoma’s spread attack exaggerated his overall athleticism.”
While playing in Oklahoma’s spread offense Saunders was a “joystick” type receiver in the open field; assuming he has enough agility that element of his game should pair well with Marty Mornhinweg’s demonstrated ability to get receivers open. The Jets were looking for their Tavon Austin type since last draft and now they get a player in that mold — though likely with less explosion.