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Over the next month or so, we're going to be reviewing some of the top draft prospects at each position to assess some potential candidates that the Jets will show interest in. We continue today with a look at the 2019 wide receiver class.
Jets needs: wide receivers
Having signed Quincy Enunwa to an extension and Robby Anderson to a restricted free agency tender, the Jets should have their two leading receivers from last year back in the fold. However, they don't currently have much beyond those two. Charone Peake is still under contract and Andre Roberts could be re-signed, but most of their contributions in 2018 were on special teams.
With Jermaine Kearse also out of contract, the rest of the receivers on next year's roster are an inexperienced group, so the Jets should look to add someone with experience in free agency. Based on last season, Sam Darnold's former college teammate Deontay Burnett could be the best candidate from that group to earn himself a roster spot.
2019 draft: wide receivers
Plenty of wide receivers made headlines at the scouting combine this weekend, but one who couldn't was Marquise "Hollywood" Brown from Oklahoma, who was unable to work out due to a Lisfranc injury. NFL.com's Bucky Brooks has the undersized Brown rated as his No. 1 receiver and said he could be a DeSean Jackson-type of player. He is the cousin of a player who may yet feature into the Jets' offseason plans at receiver: Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown.
In Brown's absence, D.K. Metcalf from Ole Miss staked his claim to be regarded as the top receiver in the draft with some spectacular speed, strength and explosiveness numbers this weekend. However, his agility numbers were poor. Metcalf wasn't particularly productive in college and missed time in his senior year, but he's a big play threat who averaged almost 22 yards per catch in 2018.
It seems unlikely Metcalf will be considered a viable option with the third pick, so the Jets won't be able to select any of the potential first-round picks unless they trade down. Other potential first rounders include N'Keal Harry from Arizona State and Metcalf's college teammate, A.J. Brown.
In the event the Jets don't trade down, using one of their two third-round selections on a receiver could be a good idea. Will Ohio State's Parris Campbell, Hakeem Butler from Iowa State or Emanuel Hall from Missouri be available despite putting up big numbers down in Indianapolis? Campbell is a player who can contribute out of the slot, while Hall is more of an outside receiver. Butler is big and tough to tackle, but there are questions over his hands as he dropped 11 passes last year.
Andy Isabella from UMass is another interesting prospect. Though he lacks size, he caught over 100 passes last year, and many experts believe he could be a possession receiver in the Cooper Kupp mold. He ran a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash but posted underwhelming agility numbers, so could he instead project better to a Tyreek Hill-type of role?
Something the Jets could be specifically on the lookout for in the draft is a slot specialist. Hunter Renfrow from Clemson and Penny Hart from Georgia State are two undersized players who are projected be that type of player at the NFL level. However, Hart was a combine snub and Renfrow posted underwhelming numbers.
Instead, the Jets could show interest in a more modern type of slot option. Bigger receivers can cause mismatch problems from the slot, and there are several such players entering the draft this year. There's Miles Boykin from Notre Dame, another player to show out at the combine this weekend. At over 6-foot-4, Antoine Wesley from Texas Tech was also productive out of the slot in 2018 but could drop to Day 3 after posting underwhelming numbers.
In the late rounds, two other options with size and an ability to produce out of the slot are Toledo's Cody Thompson and Tyre Brady from Marshall. Thompson is an excellent route runner with strong hands and Brady is an impressive runner after the catch.
Finally, if they can't resign Roberts, perhaps the Jets will look for a replacement return man like Georgia's Mecole Hardman or Wake Forest's Greg Dortch.
Many draft experts project the Jets to select two receivers in the draft, but they may address the position before then. However, with GM Mike Maccagnan already having stated that providing Darnold with more weapons is a focal point of the offseason, there's a strong chance the Jets will look to draft at least one receiver with the potential to develop into an impact player.