Scott Thompson, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Among draft experts, there is a great debate about which wide receiver is the best in this year's NFL Draft. And that debate revolves around Alabama's Jerry Jeudy and Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb.
Both receivers check off all the boxes evaluators and coaches alike look for. Whether its speed, route-running, ball-tracking, or sturdy hands, Jeudy and Lamb possess the attributes necessary to translate their stellar college performances into NFL careers as No. 1 receivers.
And the Jets could definitely use one of those for Sam Darnold.
The Jets' current depth chart has Jamison Crowder as the team's No. 1 receiver. He was a solid free-agent pickup, but that obviously won't fly. The big question is whether or not Robby Anderson returns in free agency this offseason, as a strong second half would suggest the Jets would want to bring him back -- only at the right price. There's also Quincy Enunwa, but he can't be banked on after suffering a season-ending neck injury.
Joe Douglas will be conducting his first Draft as the Jets' GM, and with his No. 11 overall pick, he could be filling that receiver void on his roster. Of course, there are others to address like offensive line and edge rusher. But setting up Darnold with his go-to target for years to come could be at the top of the priority list.
Mock drafts have had both Jeudy and Lamb available for the Jets at No. 11, so the question becomes who would the Jets write down on their draft card if they had to choose? Here are the pros and cons to each top receiver, and ultimately which route the Jets should take...
Weight: 192 pounds
2019 Stats: 77 receptions, 1,163 yards, 10 touchdowns
Career Stats: 159 receptions, 2,742 yards, 26 touchdowns
Accolades: 2018 Consensus All-American, 2018 Fred Biletnikoff Award, 2018 SEC touchdown leader (14), Two-Time All-SEC First-Team
Jeudy came out of high school as a five-star recruit, and Alabama coaches believed could be the next Julio Jones in their program. Yeah, that's a pretty bold statement, especially after posting 14 receptions for 264 yards and two touchdowns in his freshman season.
But Jeudy most certainly lived up to the hype in 2018, becoming the NCAA's best wide receiver in the country with the Biletnikoff Award given to him after his best season. Tua Tagovailoa loved throwing the ball his way, and as The Draft Network writes about Jeudy, his tremendous ability to run routes always had him open.
"He's phenomenal in short spaces against press coverage and against off [coverage] he'll produce false steps like clockwork," a Draft Network analyst wrote.
Walter Football also loves his technical abilities with footwork and route-running, but admits that his hands are "average." There have been stints of drops, but none too worrisome. Overall, that's the only thing to be picky about if you really tried to find a weakness in Jeudy.
His speed is well above average -- he should be somewhere in the low-to-mid 4.4s -- and that to go along with his route-running is a cornerback's nightmare. Also, watching Jeudy make defenders miss in the open field is actually comedy. He can stop on a dime and cut at a whim, which is devastating with his speed.
And even his blocking -- the skill many overlook when talking about a receiver -- is solid due to his length and ability to be a pest to corners.
His NFL comparison? Walter Football said Odell Beckham Jr. It's not Jones, but Jeudy will definitely like being compared to one of the best in the game now.
Weight: 189 pounds
2019 Stats: 62 receptions, 1,327 yards, 14 touchdowns
Career Stats: 173 receptions, 3,292 yards, 32 touchdowns
Accolades: 2019 Consensus All-American, 2019 First-team All-Big 12, 2017 ESPN Freshman All-American
When you have quarterbacks like Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts to work with the past two seasons, life as a Sooner receiver is fun. And Lamb definitely took full advantage of that.
The Draft Network immediately points out Lamb's ability to track down the deep ball and make the big plays -- something that was especially evident in the 2018 season with Murray launching the ball to him and Marquise "Hollywood" Brown.
"Elite ability to track the football in the air and adjust. Does a wonderful job of positioning his frame at the catch point to win with consistency," the publication wrote.
Anderson has been the Jets' deep ball threat for the past couple of seasons, but Lamb could easily take his place there. Heading into this season, which became his best in college, Walter Football was amazed by his ability to make just ridiculous grabs that were reminiscent of Beckham and DeAndre Hopkins.
His route-running is extremely solid, but there is room for improvement there. Also, his speed shouldn't be categorized as elite, with experts believing his 40-yard dash time would be coming in the 4.55 range.
But even though he might not blow past his defender, Lamb has that knack to go up and get a ball with confidence and grace all in one. In the open field, he'll make you miss, but defenders could be surprised when he lowers his head and runs through you. That physicality is also seen in the blocking game.
A very dependable receiver and one that simply knows how to get open and help make his quarterback's job easy, The Draft Network compared him to Hopkins. CBS Sports' Chris Trapasso said Allen Robinson, while adding this: "he's probably the most ready -- right now -- to step into an NFL offense and be a No. 1 receiver on the outside. I'm serious."
Who Should The Jets Take?
Kinda tough to make this call, right? Each receiver excels in many areas of the game with little to no weaknesses to account for. But if I had to follow my gut, I think Jeudy would be the best option here.
Lamb might be the most NFL-ready receiver, but Jeudy's ceiling as a perennial Pro Bowler and a player that can wreak defenses with speed and technicality combined is too intriguing to pass up.
Jeudy's physical traits outshine Lamb just a tad -- speed especially. Lamb's hands and body control are better, but Jeudy can work on those things once on the Jets.
Darnold needs someone that is going to consistently get open, and if the Jets are down, a player that he can take a shot with downfield. Both players fit that bill, but I'd rather have Jeudy's breakaway speed that can torch corners and safeties rather than Lamb going up to make a contested grab.
Of course, banking on Jeudy falling to No. 11 is a gamble. Both receivers may not make it to the Jets. If they do, though, I'd expect Douglas to give the Crimson Tide product a new Jets hat on that stage in Las Vegas.