Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New York Jets [Print without images]

Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Jets draft preview: Wide receiver

By Rich Cimini

Stephen Hill
The Jets need more production from 2012 second-round pick Stephen Hill in 2013.
This is the third installment in a position-by-position analysis of the Jets as they prepare for the draft:

Position: Wide receiver

Depth chart: Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley, Clyde Gates, Jordan White, Emmanuel Arceneaux, Royce Adams, Joe Collins, Vidal Hazelton, Thomas Mayo, Royce Pollard, Titus Ryan.

Departures: Braylon Edwards (unsigned), Chaz Schilens (unsigned).

Total salary-cap charge (positional rank): $14.25 million (fifth)

Scouting report: The receiving corps was an injury-plagued mess last season. Holmes' return from foot surgery adds credibility to the unit, but it's unrealistic to expect the pre-injury Holmes. He will be limited in training camp and brought along slowly. The other big question is Hill, who needs to rebound from a disappointing rookie season. He dropped too many passes and never played as fast as his 40 time. The game was too big for him, as he showed his lack of experience in a pro-style passing offense. If Hill isn't the team's most improved player in 2013, it's a problem. Kerley is a nice slot receiver, but he was pressed into a larger role because of the injuries; he led the receivers in playing time (62 percent of the offensive snaps) -- too much field time for his skill set.

If everything breaks right, the Jets will have a solid 1-2-3 punch in 2013, but they have to take a long-term view of the position. Holmes, who took a $3 million pay cut, is a likely goner in 2014 because of a $10.75 million cap charge. Therefore, they need to find a starting-caliber receiver in the draft. They could add a veteran after the draft, perhaps Edwards, but he'd be strictly for depth/insurance purposes.

The last time: Hill (second round) and White (seventh) came out of last year's draft.

Potential targets: Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee) and Tavon Austin (West Virginia) are the only real possibilities with the ninth pick, but both come with question marks. Patterson is a tremendous talent, but he was a one-year wonder in college and there are concerns about his ability to digest a pro-style offense. Austin is the top playmaker in the draft, but he's only 5-foot-8 1/2, 174 pounds, and guys smaller than some of the beat writers usually don't get drafted in the top 10. But, man, these guys have scary potential. Austin and Patterson were the only players last season to have 600 receiving yards, 300 rushing yards and 500 return yards, according to ESPN Stats & Information. DeAndre Hopkins (Clemson) fits the profile of a West Coast-style receiver and could be an option in the second round. Hopkins was one of the top deep threats in the country, with 10 TD catches on passes of 20-plus yards.

Need rating (scale of 1 to 10): 8