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Some Wide Receivers to Catch Jets' Eye

Posted Mar 4, 2014

Real Football’s Post-Combine Analysis for the Green & White, Part I

Since before the end of the 2013 season, every Jets fan has known the script for the 2014 offseason. This team needs to stockpile talent at the offensive skill positions. While there are still questions at quarterback, the fact remains that any player behind center needs weapons at wide receiver, tight end, and even running back. And improvements to the offensive line shouldn’t be out of the question, either.

Here are some early-, mid- and late-round options at several perceived positions of need for the Green & White coming out of the combine. Today: WR, TE, RB and G. Wednesday: QB, OLB and CB.

Wide Receivers

Early: Clemson’s Sammy Watkins will be gone early. Texas A&M’s Mike Evans or USC’s Marqise Lee are next on the list. Evans is a big target (6'5", 231) with a huge catch radius and the ability to make the tough catch. His 4.5 40 didn’t hurt him at the combine, either. Lee is maybe the most polished receiver in this draft, runs excellent routes, and possesses reliable hands.

Round 2 also offers some outstanding options in LSU WR Jarvis Landry, Oregon State’s fast Brandon Cooks (4.33), and the size, strength and versatility of Penn State’s Allen Robinson and Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews.

Mid: South Carolina’s Bruce Ellington has excellent quickness and burst and a knack for making the big play. Devin Street of Pitt has over 200 catches and great athleticism, and his 4.55 40 answered some questions about straight-line speed.

Late: Kent State’s Dri Archer lacks size but showed off 4.26 speed to go with great burst and explosiveness and the versatility to line up just about anywhere on the field. Wake Forest’s Michael Campanaro has been incredibly productive (229 catches for 2,506 yards), and his 4.4 40, 20 reps on the bench and 39-inch vertical definitely raised his stock. He may not be a secret any longer.

Tight Ends

Early: North Carolina's Eric Ebron will likely be off the board early, but Jace Amaro of Texas Tech has more size and the ability to threaten the seam as a receiver. His lack of ideal blocking skills could make him a tough fit in New York, though.

Notre Dame's Troy Niklas, much less productive than the more well-known Austin Seferian-Jenkins of Washington (146 catches), has great size (6'6", 270) and is a developing receiver and a tough guy who loves to block. Niklas, after showing off 27 bench reps and a 32-inch vertical at the combine, could move right into the Jets wheelhouse with a strong 40 time.

Mid: C.J. Fiedorowicz of Iowa is 6'7" and nearly 270 pounds, runs a 4.7, and is a willing and able blocker.

Late: A.C. Leonard is a small-school prospect out of Tennessee State, and though he lacks size, he ran a 4.50 at the combine at 252 pounds and caught 34 balls for a 13-yard average last season. If the Jets are looking for a receiving weapon at TE, he could be a worthwhile project.

Running Backs

Early: The Jets likely won’t be in the RB business early in this draft, but while some believe Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell can carry the load, there is a school of thought that OC Marty Mornhinweg would love to find the next LeSean McCoy in this draft. Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde, Tre Mason of Auburn, and Washington’s Bishop Sankey are all productive collegians and should be on the board in Round 2.

Mid: Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey ran a slow 4.7 at the Combine and was generally panned as a disappointment, but Carey rushed for over 4,200 yards in the Pac-12, caught more than 75 passes and is considered by many to be the best in this class in pass protection. We’ll have to see if he runs faster at his Pro Day, but if he slips because of his 40, he could be a steal in Rounds 3 or 4.

Late: With a 4.4 40, 32 reps on the bench, a 40 ½ inch vertical, and an 11-foot broad jump, Jerick McKinnon, a former small school option QB at Georgia Southern, certainly opened some eyes in Indy. Level of competition, lack of size (5-9), and inexperience as a running back will limit his rise on boards, but he has the tools to be an explosive playmaker.

Guards

Early: While this draft is loaded with talent at tackle, Xavier Su'a-Filo of UCLA measures up as the top guard in this class and could last into the second round. At 300 pounds, the Pac-12’s most dominant drive blocker showed enough athleticism in Indy to prove he can fit in a zone scheme as well. Stanford’s David Yankey is more of a household name and a mauler, but his 4.86 shuttle at the combine showed his excellent lateral agility and movement ability.

Mid: Cyril Richardson of Baylor has generally struggled during the postseason, but his 4.81 shuttle time shows great athleticism for a man his size (329 pounds). He has some work to do to improve his technique, but his explosiveness and ability to play OG or OT will make him a strong middle-rounds selection.

Late: Penn State’s John Urschel put up 30 reps, a 29-inch vertical and a 4.47 shuttle at 313 pounds. Those numbers, combined with great intangibles — crazy smart, tough, hard-working — would make him a steal from the Round 5 on.

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