While the Jets may or may not have an interest in acquiring wide receiver DeSean Jackson, there is still the NFL Draft that is less than six weeks away, with what some are calling one of the deepest WR draft pools, ever. Gang Green added WR Eric Decker in free agency, but should and will still be in the market for another playmaker at wideout, this offseason.
Let’s take a look at some of the options in the class…
Sammy Watkins — Clemson
The undeniably top receiver in the 2014 NFL Draft is Sammy Watkins out of Clemson University. Watkins is (almost) exactly what a Madden gamer would design for their WR1; he is 6’1″, 211 lbs, with the speed (4.34, 4o-time) and strength to match. He is far and away the most NFL-ready prospect, and has the ability to change games. He lacks elite size, but that is not something to focus on, as the wideout accumulated over 3,000 yards and 27 total TDs—25 receiving, one rushing, and one return TD—in three years of work at Clemson.
Watkins has to be at the top, or near it, of all 32 NFL teams’ boards, so it is highly unlikely that he will be available to the Jets, this year, unless a trade is made. GM John Idzik is starting to build a rap for being very financially conservative, so I would doubt a move-up of that caliber would be made.
Grade: Sammy Watkins received a 7.0 rating, per NFL.com, setting him among the ranks of a potential Pro-Bowl prospect. In terms of letter grades, we’d give him an ‘A’, because he is everything you want, besides being a few inches taller.
Mike Evans — Texas A&M
Receiving passes from another potentially high draftee—QB Johnny Manziel—Evans lit up defenders at Texas A&M. Entering the draft as a redshirt sophomore, Evans might not be as mentally developed as Watkins (entering as a junior), but one would not be able to tell by his play.
The 6’5″, 231 lb receiver looks the part of a number one wideout, with a big body frame, that has allowed him to fight off double coverage, and come away with ‘jump-balls.’ The only knock there, is that Evans tends to try to out-body defenders too often, instead of using fundamental route running and body position.
During his tenure with the Aggies (two seasons), Evans racked up 2,499 receiving yards and 17 TDs. Possibly most impressive was his improvement from 2012 to 2013. In the jump from YR1 to YR2, Evans caught for 289 more yards and seven more TDs, while improving his YAC, or yards after catch, by 6.7, to 20.2 yards.
Grade: CBSSports.com has Evans as the second-best WR, along with many outlets, and being drafted as high as seventh overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s hard not to put Evans in that ‘A’ category, and that’s just what we’re going to do. He’s made to help push a team to the next level.
The Next Tier
These players may not be the best options at wide receiver in this year’s class, but they are all round one options. The Jets have been linked as a possible destination for all three.
Marqise Lee — USC
Lee is the shifty receiver of the bunch—not the absolute fastest—but arguably the player who uses his speed the smartest. He is very adapt at running smooth routes, and then ‘turning on the jets’ to get to the next level.
However, Marqise Lee lacks a solid build like the previous receivers, 6′, 193 lbs, and it shows through his inability to run through tackles. That weakness in durability was shown in his junior season at USC, when Lee fought through injury and a ‘down’ year, for his potential.
Grade: Lee could be a playmaker in the NFL, but there are a lot of question marks. We give him a ‘B’.
Odell Beckham, Jr. — LSU
Beckham stands shorter than Lee, at 5’11” (198 lbs), but that didn’t hurt his production with the Tigers, showcasing his ability to go up and get balls at their highest point. Beckham movements on the field are fluid, and he’s excellent at moving his body in the best position to make a catch.
Due to his height, Beckham may not be able to play in anything else but the slot—nothing to look down on—but the Jets have a known commodity in Jeremy Kerley, in the slot already. He’s not going to much help in the run game either, and that might not pass Rex Ryan’s approval.
Grade: Beckham is a good player for what he is, but probably isn’t the best fit to handle the bigger corners in the league. His leaping ability places him with Lee at a ‘B’.
Brandin Cooks — Oregon State (Pictured Above)
Cooks is your speedster of the class, headlining this year’s wide receivers with a 4.33 sec, 40 time. At 5’10”, 189 lbs, you’d imagine that Cooks could not be used on the outside, but this receiver is multifaceted. His quick hips and hands allow Cooks to have usability at WR1/2, especially in a WCO-style playbook.
Cooks’s wingspan leaves something to be desired, so on-target throws are more necessary for him to be successful. His speed inhibits him, at times, as he tends to overrun routes. Still, I like the Geno Smith-fit, given Cooks can remind one of Smith’s former WVU teammate, Tavon Austin.
Grade: As a fit for the Jets, Cooks grade may be higher, but with all 32 teams in mind I give hime a ‘B-‘.
Mid and Late-Round Fits
These are a couple players that could be good snags for NYJ, after day one.
Martavis Bryant — Clemson
With his former teammate, Sammy Watkins, garnering so much attention, Bryant has fallen off-the-radar. He’s tall (6’4″), can accelerate quickly, and is the perfect target sub-20 yards, a la Braylon Edwards.
While he doesn’t come from a more limited program like Georgia Tech, Jets fans might be too reminded of Stephen Hill with Bryant. He’s a big target that needs work on route running and bringing the football to his body. Bryant may have as big of an upside as the higher-picked draftees, but clearly requires more training to improve his craft.
Grade: The potential hits you in the face with Bryant, and he could end up as a steal for redzone production, coming up with seven TDs last season. Still, he’s a ‘C+’, at the current time.
Brandon Coleman — Rutgers
The hometown connection could land Coleman a job with Gang Green, and that could be a great thing. This is a big dude—6’6″, 225 lbs. He can obviously catch the ‘too high’ ball, but also uses his size as a blocking advantage in the run game.
Height’s a blessing and a curse, and that proves true for Coleman, with longer, but slower strides. He also has the tendency to get off route, another disadvantage of the build.
Grade: Coleman is an ‘eyeball’ pick—a player you fall in love with, if you pick him, for better or worse. That may lead teams to over-drafting, but it’ll be very hard to cover him if he refines his game. He gets a ‘C’, and is looking at about a fifth round or later selection.
Feature Image: Associated Press