Joe Douglas will likely look to add a wide receiver in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Here’s a closer look at who he’ll target.
The New York Jets’ need for wide receivers has been well-documented. After failing to sufficiently address the position during free agency, general manager Joe Douglas will attempt to find Sam Darnold’s top target in this year’s receiver-rich draft.
At this point, it seems that Gang Green will opt for a protector for their franchise quarterback rather than a playmaker with the 11th overall pick. They’ll likely have a choice between one or two of the top-four offensive tackles of the 2020 NFL Draft class. The focus of the offseason has been to build a wall in front of Darnold, and this would be an exclamation point on a job well done by the first-time general manager.
Although I’d love to see the Jets target a wideout in round one, adding an offensive lineman certainly makes sense given the importance of improved play in the trenches, as well as the depth of this year’s group of wide receivers.
For this reason, Gang Green will look to add at least one, maybe two wideouts with their 48th, 68th, and 79th overall selections.
With the assumption that Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, Henry Ruggs III, Justin Jefferson, Tee Higgins, Denzel Mims, and Brandon Aiyuk are off the board come pick 48, here’s my breakdown on some of the receivers who Douglas could target in round two of the draft.
Michael Pittman Jr.
Michael Pittman Jr. would be the perfect second-round pick for the Jets. He’s my favorite wideout of this group by a pretty wide margin, as I believe that he has the potential to be a No. 1 target. The ideal scenario for Douglas would be to exit the first two rounds with one of the elite offensive tackles and Pittman.
The only problem is that Gang Green may have to move up a few spots to have a chance at the 22-year-old. He’s not a star quite yet, but instead, the type of solid, all-around receiver that every team covets. Pittman has excellent hands, he’s a strong and physical route-runner while possessing decent speed.
At 6-foot-4, 223 pounds, the USC product also has great size, and he does a really nice job using it to help him make contested catches. Looking at the Jets’ receivers, they lack that big, physical red-zone target. Pittman would fill that void and be a huge help to Darnold. He’s just a reliable, do-it-all receiver with no major flaws. The Jets can’t go wrong with Pittman at pick 48.
Similar to Pittman, Chase Claypool could serve as the physical target that Sam Darnold so desperately needs. Although Claypool is a more risky selection because of his rawness and lack of polish, his elite mix of size and speed make him worthy of a flier.
As a result of his size (6-foot-4, 238 pounds), many viewed the Notre Dame product as a tight end before the NFL Combine. That was until he came out and ran the 40-yard-dash in 4.42 seconds. He’s the freak athlete of the 2020 class. He’s a wideout who could serve as a versatile weapon for an offense because of his stature and blocking-ability. He’ll also contribute on special teams from the get-go.
Claypool finds himself in the same situation that D.K. Metcalf was in at this time last year. He has that rare blend of physical attributes, but there are questions about where he’d fit into an NFL offense. Things worked out for Metcalf, who had a strong rookie season, and expect the same to happen for Claypool, so I’d love to see the Jets take a chance on him. He’s a total mismatch for defenders, he’d add another dimension to Gang Green’s receiving corps, and if utilized correctly, Claypool could emerge as an unstoppable force.
Laviska Shenault Jr.
Laviska Shenault is another wideout that the Jets could target because of his upside. He has the potential to be as good as almost any receiver in the draft, but there are serious concerns about his durability and injury history. If Shenault can stay healthy, he could become a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver, but that’s a big “if.”
There is a lot to like about the former Colorado Buffalo. He has superb ball-skills, he’s tough to bring down after the catch, and he consistently makes chunk plays. He also has good size, measuring in at 6-foot-1, 227 pounds. Shenault even ran the wildcat frequently during his time in college, finishing his career with 42 carries for 280 yards and seven touchdowns. That’s almost a whopping seven yards-per-carry on notable sample size.
The 21-year-old is a very intriguing prospect. In the end, I’d be a little bit uncomfortable with Joe Douglas taking him as the Jets’ first receiver of the draft. There’s too much risk to justify putting all of their faith in the boom-or-bust playmaker. However, if Gang Green decides to double-dip into this year’s deep wideout pool and Shenault falls to the third round due to the injury concerns, it’d make a lot of sense for the Jets to invest in him.
The final wide receiver the Jets might consider in round two is Jalen Reagor. He’s isn’t the biggest receiver at 5-foot-11, 206 pounds, but he’s quick, explosive, and he plays larger than his size. Considering his stature, Reagor’s ability to win jump-balls is very impressive and helps give him that home-run ability. The 21-year-old also returns kicks and can be an asset in gadget plays.
I see the TCU product as more of a big-play-threat and complementary wideout than a true No. 1. He’s a guy that any coach loves to have in his offense thanks to his knack for making plays after the catch, getting behind the defense, and his solid ball skills, but he’s also not primary-target-material. For this reason, I believe Reagor has a lower ceiling than any of the aforementioned players.
Similar to Shenault, I’d love to see the Jets pounce on Reagor if he’s still available in the third round. However, I don’t expect this to be the case. The former Horned Frog wouldn’t necessarily be a bad selection for Gang Green at pick 48, I just don’t think he’s the kind of piece that makes the most sense for Joe Douglas.
When it’s all said and done, the Jets need to come out of the 2020 NFL Draft with weapons for Sam Darnold. It seems that the Jets will target an offensive lineman in the first round, and then a receiver in the second. Because there are so many high-end wide receivers this year, this is not a bad approach.
If the Jets do go this route, I’d love to see them add either Michael Pittman or Chase Claypool in round two. Yet the choice belongs to Joe Douglas, not me.
His predecessors have failed miserably when it comes to drafting wideouts. Stephen Hill, Devin Smith, ArDarius Stewart, Chad Hansen, the list goes on. Will New York’s newest general manager finally reverse the trend?
His tenure is off to a strong start. But the upcoming draft is the ultimate test.