New York Jets Specific NFL Draft Rankings: Wide Receiver

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This New York Jets Specific NFL Draft Rankings will enumerate and narrow down prospects who fit the Jets needs and scheme. The series will cover: receiver, tight end, guard, safeties, and cornerback. Some highly regarded prospects may be dropped down the list or left off altogether because of their poor fit with the team.

Wide receiver is a good position to start with. Pass catchers are, hands down, the Jets most pressing need. Marty Mornhinweg will likely have serious input in the war room because of the type of receiver his offense still needs to function at a high level.

Sammy Watkins, Clemson, Junior-
6’1, 205

It almost seems pointless to write this guy’s name in relation to the Jets. Watkins is such a flawless talent that he really shouldn’t escape the first five picks come May. I would go as far as to say there is no chance he slides to 18. I think it would have been worth the Jets dropping those last two games of the season just to have a shot at Watkins. He is that good.

Watkins is the type of player that is hard to critique. He demonstrates explosion off the line, reliable hands, and game-breaking speed with or without the ball. Even in Clemson’s watered-down pro style offense (complete with dinky bubble screens and drags), Watkins showed more than enough to prove that he is a complete receiver. When you look at Sammy Watkins you see  a smart, smooth athlete who is well on his way to becoming a dynamic and consistent pro.

Watkins is a perfect fit for Mornhinweg’s offense. Mornhinweg’s  West Coast system requires receivers to make hay after the catch, where Watkins excels. With Geno Smith taking a lot of snaps from the pistol and 3 to 5 step drop-backs, Watkins’ mix of speed and power could be deadly in the intermediate passing game. Having not just a dependable receiver  with incredible play-making ability could be a major difference maker in Geno’s development.

Watkins isn’t falling to 18. Yet, it’s not out of the question for the Jets to trade up for such a talent if it becomes realistic. People will say that trading up isn’t John Idzik’s MO, but frankly, we have no idea of his mentality given the assets the team has going into the offseason. The bottom of the league is such a bottomless pit right now.  I count seven teams in the top ten in that couldn’t go wrong taking a quarterback (Houston, St. Louis, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Minnesota).  If Watkins does, somehow, escape the first ten or twelve picks, it would be a serious option for the Jets to jump up for the game breaker.

Marqise Lee, Southern California, Junior-
6’0, 195

Despite a disappointing Junior season Lee is still a dynamic receiver. He, without a doubt, has more to work on than Watkins. However, his skill-set could translate to immediate success in the NFL if used correctly.

Lee’s acceleration is his most tantalizing ability. It makes him dangerous on the deep ball. It makes his transition from catch to yards-after-catch lethal. His quickness and acceleration make him nearly impossible to tackle, despite his slightly lacking frame. Lee has the strength to win contested passes and approaches the ball well. He has made some outstanding catches and has a massive catch radius.

I’m typically critical of receivers who are explosive play-makers as they are often lacking in the catching ability department.  A lot of Lee’s critics tag him with this flaw.  I believe the flack he receives for his sporadically sloppy catching is overblown. Lee isn’t disciplined at the point of the catch and doesn’t focus on every step of the catching action.  He sometimes miss-times jumps or even drops technique altogether and claps his hands together in a lousy attempt at the ball.  NFL level coaching and practice should help Lee overcome these mental lapses.

Lee is a nice fit for Mornhinweg’s offense.  While not as strong a a blocker or runner as Watkins, he is still adept in the “small ball” offense. He also gains separation downfield with speed, wastes very little movement in route, and displays precise physicality.  Mock drafts might say otherwise, but I believe Lee is a solid value at 18.

Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin, Senior- 
6’1, 189

As much as we would like to believe otherwise, there is still significant racial prejudice in the NFL community.  No, every white pass catcher isn’t Wes Welker and maybe they are just really athletic instead of “sneaky” athletic.  Abbrederis is a guy who defies these misguided stereotypes.  He does display the white receiver stereotypes of “smart” and “scrappy,” but so do a lot of the draft’s top receivers.  Watkins, for example, is the definition of scrappy.

Abbrederis doesn’t win underneath like those who classify him as “another Welker” presume. His route running is so precise that he is often open on intermediate and deep routes.  He boxes out incredibly well for such an average frame and he sets up defenders effortlessly. When it comes to his hands, his catch radius won’t pop but he attacks the ball as an experienced hands-catcher and displays smooth body control. His mastery of the route tree and fine-tuned catching mechanics make Abbrederis a fantastic fit in this offense.

Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt, Senior-
6’2.5, 209 

Matthew’s doesn’t jump off the screen like the rest of the draft class, causing many scouts to unfairly criticize his athleticism. However, he uses his raw speed well, just as a burner. Matthews sets up the defender well and uses this to gain extra separation. His feet are also quicker than most give him credit for. These factors make him dangerous on the deep ball.

Matthews plays smart. He easily finds soft spots based in the zone and is very disciplined at the point of attack (retreads back the the football, doesn’t open his body up to the defender). In essence, Matthews is a quarterback’s best friend.

Matthews is not a spectacular athlete. His speed may deceive some but he doesn’t accelerate very quickly and his vertical ability is lacking. Matthews catch radius isn’t  wide and defenders find it easy to break up passes away from his body.  He fights for the ball but his subpar leaping ability sees him struggle to highpoint deeper passes.

Matthews is a hard worker (he watched film on corners he’d face at the Senior Bowl this week) and is exceptionally consistent at what he does well. Matthews fits the Jets scheme because of his dependability catching the ball in space and gaining consistent separation downfield.  He may not provide the same explosion as his draft mates but he makes up for it by consistently getting open. He may be close to his ceiling already, but in turn, he is ready to contribute early in his career.

Mike Evans, Texas A&M, Junior-
6’5, 225

Evans bottoms out this list for a reason. Yes, he is widely regarded as a layup first round. He is just not well suited for the Jets. I include Evans because he is so talented that he can contribute to any offense. Yet, I think the Jets could find better value than Evans in the first as much of his skill-set could go to waste in Mornhinweg’s system.

Evans is knocked all of the time for his speed. He won’t unleash a blazing forty time but his game speed really isn’t horrible. However, his work at the catch point, even when highly contested, is what wins games. Evans uses his size to its full advantage, which is refreshing to see because so many guys don’t do it.

I think the reason scouts are concerned about Evans’ speed is because they assume he isn’t going to find separation in the NFL. However, Evans displays consistent physicality throughout the route and disengages smoothly to catch the football at the perfect time. However, his skill-set really limits his ability to master the route tree. I won’t berate him for his speed because he still gets open, but the kind of offense Marty Morhinweg wants to run doesn’t welcome receivers like Evans with open arms.

Speed leading to early separation and opportunity is the single most important quality for a Jets’ receiver to possess in Mornhinweg’s system.  Some will point to the fact that David Nelson doesn’t posses this speed and he still produced a bit at the end of the 2013 season.  Well, the Jets offense underwent some serious tinkering at the same time.  The Jets ran much less spread, much further drop backs for Geno, and much more deceptive routes from receivers (like Nelson) who won off extended plays and their ability to find open zones.

Again, I do like Evans and I would not hate to see him in green and white.  What I would hate, however, would be to see him drafted by the Jets in the first round.  Drafting talent despite poor fit is flawed, even more so when it is a first round pick whose production is needed because the position is so bare.

***Again, these aren’t my overall rankings. I certainly do not see Mike Evans dropping below Abbrederis or Matthews. In regards to the Jets however, that’s ideally how it would play out.

  • Nick Evans

    No brandin cooks? The kids game tape is extremely impressive. He reminds me of a faster Steve smith.

  • joey diesel

    The great thing is,this draft is loaded with talented wrs beyond the first round. TE not so much. That is why I would welcome a top TE first. No doubt, the offense needs the most help.

  • joey diesel

    test

  • joey diesel

    The great thing with this draft is that it is loaded with talented wrs beyond the first round. TE not so much. That is why I would welcome a TE #1. No doubt, this FAcy and draft, offense has to be priority.

  • http://TurnOnTheJets.com Michael O’Connor

    Nick-

    I moderately like Cooks, but he’s no Stedman Bailey in terms of making up for his size with consistent body control and physicality. I hate over-simplifying things, but the Jets would really be reaching for a perimeter target if he’s their idea for one (in my opinion).

  • joey diesel

    I am new here and have a lot to contribute to my favorite team…the Jets, but why so long to get your comment posted?

  • Gil

    What think about Odell Beckham Jr.?

  • Harold

    I Cooks as well in the third round however. He needs a year to get stronger really begin to max out his skill set.

    Watkins is someone I might consider trading up for. But his true ht and weight may impact his draft grade. If he is closer to 5-11 than 6-1 he may drop out of the top ten.

    Your asses,ent of Lee was one of the better ones I have seen. He is Santonio Holmes to me a great #2 and subpar #1.

    Abbredis is another 3rd or 4th rounder. But I think he can play as well

    Matthews play at the Sr bowl has me questioning how effective he will be in the pros. But with his work ethic he may be worth it in the 2nd or third round.

  • joey diesel

    My perfect FACY: Pettigrew or Pita for TE, Tate or Jones at wr, Shields at CB, Josh McCown and either Asamoah or Schwartz at OG. The draft I am not too familiar with the prospects, but would want the first pick for the top TE, then wr. Then safety, wr again, OG, CB, 3rd down rb and OLB, then CB again.

  • Harold

    Gil:

    I don’t know about him, but Beckham is a boom or bust pick. He can wow you with some of the catches he can make. But he will disappoint you because he disappears for long stretches in games and drops way too many passes for someone with such natural hands.

    In the 3rd or 4th round you can take flyer on him. But if you draft him based on his speed and highlights in the 1st or 2nd round you will likely be disappointed.

  • Harold

    No TE in F/A the shelf life on TE’s is so short it is usually a waste of money. Plus Pettigrew is just not very good. His hands are terrible.

    Shields is my personal choice at DB so I can agree.

    I think you draft a guard too expensive to sign. Unless you get a great deal (Colon last year)

  • Nikolas

    Any of these guys plus a few more could definitely upgrade the team. I think this year we will draft 2 WRs and the competition will be fierce..

  • joey diesel

    Kudos to the blog here. I was browsing the net and came upon some well written articles on this site and wanted to check it out for myself. Keep up the the good work. As a Jet fan for over 30 years, I can never get enough!

  • Harold

    Welcome Joey:

    Excellent site very good content. You will like it a lot (we get after it on here pretty good). I liked your posts so far.

  • joey diesel

    We need a reliable vet OG in my opinion with the ? marks with Colon and Winters. With the inconsistency of the line,I dont want to start a raw rookie. Pettigrew has real talent, he just needs a change of scenery. We need a vet TE and wr, to jump in and hit the ground running otherwise the offense will struggle again. The way to build is the draft, but we need to compete this season also and a few key reasonable priced fa pickups are definitely needed. A vet CB is also priority.

  • joey diesel

    Thanks Harold, the articles are awesome, that is what hooked me!

  • Harold

    Pettigrew is not very good. Especially not as a F/A pickup. He just is not worth the money. plus the wheels fall off TE’s very quickly.

    If yolu pick a true guard who is a solid prospect you can hit a homerun in the later rounds. (Kyle long and Warford were both outstanding this year).

    Xavier Su’a Filo is a prospect that could slip to us. Gabe Jackson is a solid 3rd prospect. Both have a large amount of college starts and could be our Warford or Long. I am not a huge Winters fan but as I told people last year he is swicthing positions and coming from a MAC conference and will take time to adjust. He shoudl be much better this year.

    Pick up Nicks or Maclin in F/A as cheaper options.

    Sign a B+ CB like Shields in FA. He can become an A in the Jets system because he is a strong man to man corner with make speed and great ball skills (converted WR)

    Cut David Harris and bring in a quality vet with more range to assist in coverage like Daryl Smith or Karlos Dansby.

    Draft smartly and we will be in business.

  • joey diesel

    There are so many ways to go. That is why I am glad Idzik is running the show. Aside from his business and cap background, he has been around football for most of his adult life at various levels. This season and the future will depend heavily on what he does this season. His first season he inherited a horrific cap situation but now has the team in great position. I understand he did what most GMS would do by cutting the older and expensive players and reworking contracts, but that was phase 1 and he succeeded. Now the tougher part of replacing them with cost effective talent and building the team into a true contender. Sure he has a lot to prove but I am very optimistic. I like how he thinks everything out and does not rush his decisions and looks at all avenues. If he and his team of evaluators bring in cost effective talent in FA and draft well,we will be real contenders and heading in the right direction. I as a jet fan for over 30 years got tired of a few teases here and there and then back to mediocrity with all the ups and downs,welcome this new era. We have much to look forward to. In Idzik we trust!

  • John X

    Lee will show after the combine and pro days that he is a far superior route runner and overall WR than Watkins and will not be available for the Jets. Watkins is going to struggle in spite of posting a good 40. Watch him drop…mark my words. He’s not nearly as good as mockers are propping him up to be. But don’t take my word for it, watch the film on him. He’s a one-trick pony taking primarily handoffs and screens with an occasional deep ball with his speed. His routes are clumsy and he doesn’t separate well as you’ll notice a lot of jump balls created as a result which he gets a lot of too, in college…those won’t fly in the NFL.
    He might be the most overrated player in the 1st round. He’s exactly what the Jets don’t need for Geno.

    I think a WR version 2.0 is needed to include 2nd-3rd round options.

  • John X

    Harold,
    I agree with everything you say. Winters HAS struggled and may need to move to RG. This would necessitate a LG and they aren’t found late on the 2nd day or 3rd day. Xavier is one of the guys I would definitely target. We’ll know what the Jets think of Winters by their actions.
    I also agree that we don’t need to overpay for a CB. In our system, many can thrive.
    You’re one of the only posters that agree with me that Harris needs to go.

  • John X

    Joey Diesel,

    I would much prefer a vet TE for Geno but where are they? Pettigrew is awfully average and never provided a consistent target for a very pass-happy team.
    And I wouldn’t expect to see Dennis Pitta get away from either an extension or franchise tag as Newsome as vowed to make him their highest priority offseason signing.

    So where else do you go? I think the Jets have no choice but to draft their “move” TE. It will be nice to see Celek released from Philly as the blocking TE.

  • Harold

    John X:

    I agree Watkins may get over-drafted slightly. But I actually have watched at least 5 full offensive game-tapes on both and think Watkins is better.

    I think Lee will show well if fully healed from an injured filled season. I would prefer to wait until the late 1st (if we trade back) or 2nd round for a WR.

    I think TE has three elite prospects. I prefer Austin Seferian-Jenkins the best he is a huge target almost 6’7″ and 275 lbs. He will probably go late 1st early 2nd round. I really want to trade back and target him in the draft.

    Target WR’s like Allen Robinson, Davante Adams, and Jordan Matthews in the second.

  • KAsh

    Kudos to the high regard for Abbrederis. He measured in shorter at the Senior Bowl, so you may want to update his height to 6’0″. He is actually the one player I would trade up for in the draft. I hope he is still available with the second-round pick or maybe even the first third-round pick, though that is looking more and more unlikely after his dominant week at the Senior Bowl.

  • joey diesel

    Yeah John, I agree not too much to choose from that’s why resigning Cumby is a must,at least until we groom a rookie. I really think Pettigrew has talent and just needs a change of scenery. I have seen this happen before. Pitta is a possibility, the Ravens are funny retaining offensive players. I also definitely think we need a proven OG in FACY. Too many questions with Winters and Colon. Genos development will depend on a stable oline. We cant skimp and think a raw rookie will save the day from day one as Winters is a prime example. Facy…. WR,TE, CB and proven veteran OG, not to mention a vet QB to push Geno like McCowen for insurance,then we go to town in the draft, but to be competitive this season, we need a few sure vets that can improve the team from day one, not something raw rookies can do unless you luck out, but it is rare . We have to balance the future with having a competitive team NOW, go Johnny Z!

  • Harold

    Kash:

    Abbrederis is a solid propsect. But not one you trade up for IMO. If he falls to you at your spot you take him if value meets draft position. But I definitely would not over draft middle round guys.

  • KAsh

    @Harold

    Abbrederis is thought of as a middle round guy. (Actually, a third-round pick, but close enough.) Everyone now thinks of him as a “sleeper,” which in the third-round means a dominant guy that does not fit the stereotype of dominant guys at the position. He is white. He is light. He is kind of short, and measuring in this week at less than his listed height in college did not help. He probably will not test well. He is not the fastest receiver or the most explosive. He has good hands, but all he excels at is route-running. But he is phenomenal at it. In the right situation, he could develop into a great #2, flanking receiver. He could become uncoverable. Nothing is certain, but I think that there is a high chance he is the receiver people remember from this draft.

  • Harold

    Kash:

    I know about Abbrederis and I think he is a pretty good prospect. I just don’t think it is good strategy to trade up for him.

  • John X

    Thanks for the scouting report, Kash. Yet another WR to keep an eye on this draft. It’s quite deep and if you look at the mock drafts, they all show a ton of WR’s taken in the first 2 rounds. I think some will drop to the 3rd. Teams have other needs than just WR. I actually like Bruce Ellington a lot from South Cackalakee.

    Something to note: the Jets were seen meeting with OG Dakota Dozier (Furman) after he had a great EW Shrine game. He was asked to slide into LG after playing LT during his college career and the scouts say he looked like he’d played the position for years. Currently projected as a 3rd rounder but could rise.

  • Nick Evans

    @ John X

    Bruce Ellington is nasty. Great route runner with speed and big play ability. Would be a nice mid to late round selection. Well done, I completely forgot about him.

  • KAsh

    The Jets were the most active team at the East-West Shrine game. If you look at every prospect interviewed by a team, the Jets had the longest list at the EW practices. Then, they barely interviewed anyone at the Senior Bowl. It looks like the team is: a) covering its bases, and b) already starting to create smokescreens. I definitely see Idzik in the design.

  • Big Al

    rex will sell woody the Brooklyn bridge and the first pick will be a corner, you watch..

  • Steve

    Saw this coming a mile away – Watkins and then the rest…

    For me it’s still TE in the 1st – Ebron then Amaro.

  • Landon

    The Jets struggled in the Red Zone this year. I think Evans would vastly improve the red zone offense for the Jets. If the Jets score more TDs they win more games. Geno has the arm to get the ball down field, and has the touch to drop the ball in to Evans when lined up one on one.

    However, I understand your rationale, that we need a WR who can play in all parts of the field and run the entire route tree. Nonetheless, having a big receiver who fights for the ball could be a good security blanket for Geno.

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