Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Jets draft preview: Wide receiver
By Rich Cimini
This is the second installment in a position-by-position analysis of the New York Jets as they prepare for the draft:
Position: Wide receiver
Current personnel: Eric Decker (signed through 2018), Jeremy Kerley (2014), Stephen Hill (2015), David Nelson (2014), Jacoby Ford (2014), Clyde Gates (2014), Greg Salas (2014), Saalim Hakim (2015), Michael Campbell (2014), Dwight Jones (2016).
Projected starters: Decker, Kerley.
Newcomers: Decker, Ford.
Departures: Santonio Holmes (cut), Josh Cribbs (free agent).
Top salary-cap charge: Decker, $4 million.
Scouting report: We could provide a stream of negative statistics, underscoring the bleak state of the position, but that would be piling on at this point. Well, OK, just one: Kerley's 43 catches were the fewest by the Jets' leading receiver since 1979. They partially addressed the need in free agency, giving Decker a $7 million-a-year contract, but they don't have a reliable speed receiver on the perimeter. Hill was supposed to be that guy, but he hasn't put it together for a variety of reasons. They're in big trouble if they don't add a dynamic playmaker. Another factor to consider is the long-term outlook. Decker and Hill are the only veterans under contract in 2015, so building depth has to be a priority. It would be a shock if they don't draft at least two receivers.
Last WRs drafted: The Jets picked Hill (second round) and Jordan White (seventh) in 2012.
Potential targets: Assuming they stay put in the first round, the player to watch with the 18th pick is Odell Beckham Jr. (LSU), an all-around talent whose stock is creeping up. He has the skill set to catch passes on all three levels of the defense and he returns kicks. The Jets love his game and his character. Brandin Cooks (Oregon State) and Marqise Lee (USC) are possibilities, too. Cooks is the fastest of the three (he blazed the 40 in 4.33 seconds at the combine), but he's a shade under 5-10. Some scouts see him as a slot receiver. Lee is a fluid athlete, but he's coming off a pedestrian year filled with drops. He'd be a slight reach at 18. Because of the depth at the position, the Jets could find a quality receiver in the second or third round. Cody Latimer (Indiana) and Paul Richardson (Colorado) are nice-sized receivers that fit in a West Coast system. John Brown (Pittsburg State) is a late-round possibility.
Need rating (scale of 1 to 10): 10.