Dick Bonneville
by on February 26, 2014
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<u><strong>Can't wait for the 2014 NFL Draft?  Here are some of the marquis talents at wide receiver broken down for Jets fans</strong></u></p>
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I'm not a scout, but I am a life-long Jets fan that has spent significant time following the combine results live, and I've looked at a bunch of tape of this class' talented receivers.  I'm now more convinced than ever that  there are some can't-miss prospects in this years crop of pass catchers.</p>
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<u><strong>Background:</strong></u></p>
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The Jets need play makers if they expect Geno Smith to make strides during the 2014 campaign, and that means receivers that can battle for jump balls, stretch defenses and find dead zones in the secondary.  While I think a big, capable tight end would be ideal, I think Eric Ebron will be gone by the time the Jets pick at 18, and I'm not sold on Jace Amaro after a sub-par showing at this week's combine in Indy.  The Jets are set at running back with the two headed monster of Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell.  They could use a sure set of hands coming out of the backfield, but that's a luxury at this point.  The bigger, more immediate need is Wide Receiver..  Let's take a closer look at some of the prospects being talked about for the Jets coming into 2014:</p>
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<u><strong>Mike Evans (<em>Texas A&M</em>)</strong></u></p>
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This guy is a beast.  6'5", 231 pounds with an enormous wingspan and great hands.  He ran an solid 4.53 40 which (rightfully) catapulted him into most teams #2 spot on their draft boards.  He has the strength and the "want to" to grab contested passes and with impressive speed and size, I don't see the Jets passing on him should he fall to them at #18.</p>
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<u><strong>Marquise Lee (<em>USC</em>)</strong></u></p>
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I have seen Lee's name tied to the Jets since well before the combine, and I don't see that changing based on his performance there.  The thing that jumped out at me on tape is that, despite Lee's size (5' 11 3/4", 192 pounds), he plays "long".  He's a long strider and a solid route runner, and over and over you see him behind defenses.  With his impressive leaping ability (10' 7" in the standing broad jump and a 38" vertical), he can also go up and get balls over defenders.  Lee could be a welcome security blanket for Geno Smith.  Lee's experience in USC's pro-style offense also makes him attractive, as he could likely be a starter from day 1.</p>
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<u><strong>Odell Beckham Jr (<em>LSU</em>)</strong></u></p>
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Once again, Beckham is a little undersized for the Jets, but I loved him on tape.  He is fearless, fast and heady, and he is what I call an ankle-breaker in the open field.  Beckham ran a blistering 4.43 40 at the combine.  He is an explosive, competitive play maker who could help immediately in the return game and as number 2 receiver.  Beckham's stock rose at the combine, so it's hard to say where he might go, as some might say he would be a stretch at 18.  If the Jets top guys are off the board when the commissioner calls their name, they may do well to trade down, stockpile more picks (it is a very strong draft, top to bottom) and take Beckham later in round 1 or early in round 2.</p>
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<u><strong>Jordan Matthews (<em>Vanderbilt</em>)</strong></u></p>
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Matthews is intriguing, as he has good size and good, deceptive speed.  He caught a gaudy number of long balls (19.0 average) and looks pro ready to me on film.  He is not one of these guys who can jump out of the gym, but he is a polished route runner, and his size would be welcome on a Jets roster desperate for someone to step up in the red zone.</p>
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<u><strong>Brandin Cooks (<em>Oregon State</em>)</strong></u></p>
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The speedster out of Oregon State, ran a ridiculous 4.33 40 in Indy this week, and there's no doubt that he is a gifted athlete.  That said, at 5' 10", he relies on speed and separation to get his touches.  This formula is one that served him well at Oregon State, but I'm not sure that he will enjoy that much success at the next level.  The Jets really need someone who can help Geno out when the pocket collapses, and Cooks is not that guy.  He's a burner with good hands, but not a possession receiver across the middle.  On tape, I've seen him make great grabs and great moves, but he likes the sideline and he's much more likely to step out of bounds than take a hit.  That said, if he falls to the third round and the Jets are still in need, it's tough to pass up that kind of athletic ability.</p>
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<u><strong>Thoughts</strong></u></p>
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There are several other intriguing receivers among this year's crop, but these seemed the most likely fit for the Jets given draft position and need.  We know that Idzik loves competition and adheres to that old GM mantra "pick the best player on the board, regardless of position", and I think, to some degree, that's true, but I would be stunned if the Jets don't use one of their first two picks on a Wide Receiver.  In truth, I wouldn't be that surprised if they used both picks on pass catchers. To me, it comes down to value.  With Watkins and Evans likely off the board before the Jets are on the clock, I believe Lee would be a solid pick at #18.  I think the best value pick may come with Odell Beckham.  Despite a good showing at the combine, I still think a lot of teams aren't sold.  If the Jets could trade down and get him late in the first round, I think he would end up being one of the steals of the draft.  He's got a non-stop motor and special skills.  I'm hoping to see him in green and white next year.</p>
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