The New York Jets are desperate for wide receiver help so young Sam Darnold can develop the proper way.
The 2019 New York Jets had a single receiver top 800 yards, Jamison Crowder. Only two receivers topped 500 yards, Crowder and Robby Anderson. Crowder is here for the long haul, having two more years under contract.
That’s a good thing. Crowder is one of the better slot wide receivers in football. Anderson, on the other hand, isn’t under contract for the 2020 season.
That means the Jets currently only have one receiver on their roster who topped 500 yards in 2019. That’s not good no matter how it’s spun.
Demaryius Thomas topped 400 yards, but his contract is also up. The only receivers under contract are Crowder, Quincy Enunwa, Vyncint Smith and Braxton Berrios. Enunwa is likely to be a cap casualty after suffering a second serious neck injury in three years.
That means the Jets will have just three WRs who had a combined 1,173 yards in 2019. There were 10 receivers in the league who had more yards on their own than those three combined.
The offensive line has to improve for the passing game to work, but so do the receivers. The New York Jets can’t afford to let a historically good WR class pass them by in the 2020 NFL Draft.
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
CeeDee Lamb is the best receiver in this draft class. If the top four offensive linemen in the class are off the board at No. 11, it likely means Lamb will still be on the board. If that scenario plays out, the Jets shouldn’t hesitate.
Lamb is a legit No. 1 receiver in the NFL. He isn’t the biggest or the strongest. He’s only 6-foot-2 and 192 pounds. He’s also not the fastest. Experts would be shocked if he ran under a 4.5.
His athletic traits are the only thing slowing Lamb down. He has no other real weaknesses in his game.
He’s a strong route runner, his hands are elite and he’s great after the catch. That’s why his NFL comparison is Houston Texans star, DeAndre Hopkins.
The wide receiver skills are all there it’s just the athleticism that’s lacking. Plenty of WRs in the game today have proven that playing the position is way more than just a 40-yard dash time. CeeDee Lamb is going to be the next one.
Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
Jerry Jeudy comes in a close second in this class behind Lamb. There is a scenario in which all four offensive linemen and Lamb are off the board at 11. It’s not a likely one, but it could happen. If it does, the New York Jets best pick is Jeudy.
Jeudy is athletic, though he’s not elite. He’s expected to run his 40-yard dash in the low 4.4s. He’s got some size at 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds, but he’s not a big body. Those physical attributes a team can work with.
Jeudy excels with his route running. He’s by far the best route runner in the class. He has a knack for finding ways to get open at all three levels of the field no matter who the competition is.
He has just one weakness in his game that can’t be overlooked, his hands. Jeudy dropped seven passes in 2019 that’s among the most in the country.
Jeudy has a tendency to body catch and he has difficulty high pointing the ball. He’s never going excel at winning 50-50 balls as Lamb will.
Jeudy fits in the mold of an Amari Cooper or Adam Thielen type No. 1 receiver. He’s just going to find ways to get open and burn defenses every week. He may not be an All-Pro caliber WR, but he’ll be a solid number one receiver for years to come.
Tyler Johnson, Minnesota
If the Jets are able to get an offensive lineman in Round 1, they’ll likely look wide receiver in Round 2. If they do, Tyler Johnson would be an intriguing bet.
Johnson played outside and in the slot for Minnesota in 2019. He’s an excellent route runner and he’s got sticky hands. Those are by far his two best traits.
He’s not going to wow anyone with his speed, but his athleticism shouldn’t be a liability. Despite his 6-foot-2, 205-pound size, Johnson isn’t a physical receiver. He’d prefer to make use of his size to block out or box out CBs then actually make physical contact.
That shows up most in the run game. Johnson is a competent run blocker, but he’s not going to be setting the edge in the running game.
He’s a smart WR who knows his strengths and his limitations. Johnson will thrive in the NFL if he lands on a team that allows him to use his versatility and route-running ability to its fullest potential. He’s a lot like former Minnesota Golden Gopher and Jet Eric Decker in that way.
If the Jets are looking for a swiss army knife to move all over the field to create mismatches, Johnson could be their guy.
Justin Jefferson, LSU
Jefferson is the hardest receiver on this list to predict. He’s a first-round talent in any other draft class, but this isn’t an ordinary receiver class. It’s possible that the sheer number of top receiving prospects pushes Jefferson to the middle of the second round. If that happens the Jets have to pounce.
Jefferson is a tall and lanky receiver at 6-foot-3 and 192 pounds. That’s not too far off from Robby Anderson’s listed size. Athletically he’s okay he’ll run a sub-4.5, but anything more is expecting too much.
Jefferson is the jack-of-all-trades master of none in this class. He’s got no visible weaknesses that will hold him back in the NFL from being an impact player. That said he doesn’t have any dominant traits that make him stand out.
He’s a good route runner and his hands are good. He can play the slot and outside receiver. Jefferson has shown a willingness to be physical in the run game, but he’s not strong enough to make a huge impact. That’s how the story goes for Jefferson in every major category.
He’ll likely never be an elite No. 1 receiver. He’ll always be better off as a No. 2 receiver where he’ll get to play to his strengths against one on one coverage on most plays. That said, he could be an okay number one option as well. It’ll just never be his best-case scenario. Jefferson’s NFL comp is Cincinnati Bengals’ Tyler Boyd.
If the Jets wait until the second round to take a receiver it’s not going to get much better than Jefferson.