After the 2013 NFL season, it was evident that the Jets needed to update their roster on the offensive side of the ball.
NFL Network’s Kurt Warner summed it up well on SNY for the Jets and Geno Smith in 2013:
“I don’t think [the Jets] had many pieces around Geno Smith last year. So he was asked to do a lot for a rookie quarterback. I think we saw times where he did some really good things, made some impressive throws that make you say ‘wow this guy has got a chance’, but he also pressed a lot. Or there were timing issues and there were times when it didn’t seem like he knew what he was looking at. Which again a lot of rookies go through. It’s just accentuated a little bit when you don’t have a very good team around you.”
The team might have made some strides in that department this offseason, but there’s still more work to be done.
While jettisoning Santonio Holmes last month was something of an addition by subtraction, the team went out and added Eric Decker near the outset of free agency. Still, the team would be wise to add one of the talented young receivers in this year’s NFL Draft class, which is among one of the most talented receiver classes in many years.
So with the news that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded Mike Williams change the dynamics for a team like the Jets who will draft behind the Bucs in the first round?
SI’s Chris Burke certainly believes so:
Even before trading WR Mike Williams to Buffalo for a sixth-round pick Friday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers figured to consider drafting at receiver at No. 7 overall if one of the top two options — Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans — happened to be on the board.
Now, Tampa Bay is an obvious landing spot for either player, with the Williams trade leaving Vincent Jackson and a whole bunch of nothing on the receiver depth chart.
We’re deep into free agency at this point, leaving little in the way of impact players on the market. So, all the signs definitely point toward the Buccaneers heavily considering drafting a receiver in the top 10.
CBS Sports does a nice job of laying their mock drafts side by side. So quickly scanning the WRs drafted in prior mocks (before the Bucs trade) reads as if the Jets are (generally) the third team that would be drafting a WR.
With the Bucs trade though, they get rid of Mike Williams and put themselves squarely in the fray for one of the draft’s top two receivers. Of course that means that there are teams drafting behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who will be faced with the dilemma of drafting wide receiver that might not marry up with their ranking of draft picks.
Just this week, the Jets were reported to have interest in Kelvin Benjamin, a massively framed receiver (6’5″ 240 lbs) with decent wheels (4.61 40 yard dash) to match.
You can’t coach 6’4″ either and that doesn’t seem to have done Stephen Hill many favors in two years with the Jets.
I know, I know … it’s a totally unfair comparison, but left in a vacuum that statement about coaching size begs for criticism. Not always, but Mike Tannenbaum had an affinity for athletic players with good metrics who could jump out of the gym (Vernon Gholston, Vlad Ducasse, Stephen Hill) but whose skills didn’t always translate on the football field.
The difference of course with Benjamin that decouples him from comparisons to players like Hill is that he comes battle-tested from a Florida State program that just won the BCS over Auburn and he accumulated over 1000 yards and 15 touchdowns in his final college season. His crowning performance came in one of the biggest games of the year in which Florida State routed SEC powerhouse Florida. Benjamin posted 212 yards and three touchdowns. Benjamin compares much more closely with a player like Plaxico Burress or Braylon Edwards because of his size, athleticism and willingness to play tough. Even so, he’s not a polished route runner and can drop too many passes. It should at least be some cause for concern.
Other players that the Jets are matched up with at receiver are Brandin Cooks, Odell Beckham Jr. and to a lesser degree Marquise Lee. Each player offers different attributes that the Jets could greatly benefit the Jets.
I for one would love it if the Jets drafted a wide receiver in the first round. That said, drafting wide receiver just for the sake of doing it is never the right move and wholly depends on what talents fall to them at varying positions should they stay with the 18th pick. The good news here is that there are plenty of players at receiver who might not even be drafted in the first round, but are extremely talented, nevertheless.
With two or now potentially three receivers off the board by the time the Jets pick at 18, what it might boil down to for the Jets is their willingness to draft a player that offers them a more specific level of talents to their offense. While there still will be plenty of quality receivers for the Jets to draft at 18 or into the second and third round, they are going to have to be more selective about the type of receiver they are bringing in for the longer term. Will it be a small and speedy deep threat? Will it be a powerful brickhouse? Will it be less splashy receiver who might be ready-fit for the NFL? The Jets have some big decisions ahead.