The Jets have been doing their due diligence on this year's core of receiver prospects, with reports that the Jets have set up private workouts with several of the draft's top prospects at the position such as Notre Dame's Michael Floyd and South Carolina's Alshon Jeffrey. It's no secret that the Jets are in need of a receiver and are likely to target one early to get Mark Sanchez some help in his pivotal fourth season as a pro.
Following the jump, here's a breakdown of the draft's top eight receivers, all of whom have at least a second round grade.
Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
2011 stats: 13 games, 122 rec, 1522 yards, 18 TDs
Height: 6'-1'' Weight: 207 lbs
40-Time: 4.46 (Pro Day)
Strengths: An ultra-productive wideout throughout his collegiate career, Blackmon is a strong and physical receiver that has drawn favorable comparisons to Baltimore's Anquan Boldin. He plays much bigger than his size suggests and he answered questions about his speed with a strong 40-time at Oklahoma State's pro day. Unlike his former collegiate teammate Dez Bryant, Blackmon is a clean off-the-field prospect and is the last player to have his effort questioned on the field. He may not be a elite deep threat in the NFL, but offers basically everything else: sure handedness, sound route running, red zone value, big time after-the-catch ability, and a tough and highly competitive nature.
Weaknesses: Despite his impressive 40-time, Blackmon's tape suggests that he's not going to be a vertical threat in the NFL and may struggle to separate against NFL corners. There is also some concern over his measurables as Blackmon measured in smaller than what scouts were expecting. While he was unbelievably productive in college regardless of competition, it may be a situation where physical limitations are more apparent in the NFL.
Projection: Blackmon is a consensus top ten pick and if the Jets want him will have to make a move up into the top six to have a shot. Blackmon could go as high as fourth overall to the Browns, though the likeliest destination is at sixth overall to the Rams. Ultimately the likelihood of Justin Blackmon wearing green and white this season is quite low.
Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
2011 stats: 13 games, 100 rec, 1147 yards, 9 TDs
Height: 6'-3'' Weight: 220 lbs
Strengths: Floyd is the prototypical modern day number one NFL receiver. Notre Dame's most prolific receiver of all time, Floyd matched an outstanding college career with an impressive display in his combine workout in February. He's drawn comparisons to Larry Fitzgerald and while not on that level as a prospect is of a similar mold and a very talented player in his own right. Like Fitzgerald, Floyd's a big, strong and athletic target that is both reliable in the possession game and offers big play ability both down field and in the red zone with his size advantage and ability to out-jump defenders and high-point the ball. Experience in a pro style offense is also something Floyd benefitted from, playing his first two years in South Bend under Charlie Weis. Despite some off-the-field troubles, on-the-field maturity and effort aren't in question. In terms of on-the-field ability, some scouts feel there's not much difference at all between Blackmon and Floyd.
Weaknesses: Any team that takes a serious look at Floyd in the draft will have to be comfortable with a few red flags. Injuries have been a concern for Floyd over his four years at Notre Dame, most notably missing half of his sophomore year with a collar bone injury. More concerning for teams will be Floyd's off-the-field issues. Since his freshman year at Notre Dame, Floyd has been arrested three times for alcohol-related issues. He was suspended by Notre Dame for his third incident in March of 2011, having the suspension lifted before the start of the season and had his captaincy revoked.
Projection: Floyd is an early-to-mid first round pick and the receiver the Jets are most likely to target in the first round. Projections have Floyd going as high as Jacksonville at seventh overall and his low-point projection would be the Jets at sixteen. While it's possible Floyd could fall that far, it's not likely given that almost every team picking between the Jaguars and Jets could use a receiver in some capacity. Although, we'll only truly know on draft day how teams value Floyd with his off-the-field issues and perhaps the Jets themselves may find him too risky. Trading up for Floyd, perhaps at ninth overall swapping with Carolina, is something the Jets could consider.
Kendall Wright, Baylor
2011 stats: 13 games, 108 rec, 1663 yards, 14 TDs
Height: 5'-10'' Weight: 196 lbs
40-Time: 4.61 Combine / 4.44 Pro Day
Strengths: No receiver helped his draft stock like Kendall Wright did this past season as Heisman winner Robert Griffin III's number one target. Outside of Alabama running back Trent Richardson, Kendall Wright is the most explosive offensive skill player in the draft and he has instant impact potential for a team as a slot receiver and kick returner. At Baylor Wright was a danger all over the field, showing the quickness to separate and create himself space in short areas as well as showing the long distance speed to get on top of a defense and burn teams deep. Wright is particularly dangerous after-the-catch and looks to score every time he gets the ball. Despite his slight frame, Wright never missed a game in college and displayed toughness playing through a few injuries. In addition to his instant impact potential, Wright has considerable upside and has drawn comparisons to Carolina's Steve Smith.
Weaknesses: Wright surprised scouts by running a very poor 4.61 40-time at the NFL combine, but has seemed to clear any speed questions with a solid time at his pro day. The biggest concerns with Wright center around his slight build. He'll be more liable to injury in the NFL than he was in college playing in more games and against top competition. Press coverage is something Wright didn't deal with much in college and he'll see it much more in the pros, which may limit him to slot duty early in his career. Wright gives good effort but he won't be much a factor in the run game. Baylor ran a spread system and thus Wright is a bit raw in terms of overall route running in a pro style offense. While he possesses considerable upside, he may never develop into a true number one receiver and could cap as a complementary receiver and gadget weapon.
Projection: Wright is expected to be available for the Jets as he's slotted as a mid-to-late first round pick, but whether he the right fit for the Jets is another question. Between Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley, Kendall Wright doesn't really offer the Jets anything the offense already has and won't replace the red zone threat and big target the Jets need to replace after three seasons of Plaxico Burress and Braylon Edwards. If the Jets had moved Holmes in the offseason than Wright would have been a realistic possibility, but as it stands the Jets will likely look for a receiver that offers the offense something different.
Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech
2011 stats: 13 games, 28 rec, 820 yards, 5 TDs
Height: 6'-4'' Weight: 215 lbs
Strengths: Stephen Hill is arguably the draft's most intriguing prospect. Following in the footsteps of former Georgia Tech receivers Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas, Hill declared early and wowed scouts with his size and incredible athleticism at February's combine. His natural ability and skill set may remind some of Randy Moss - Hill is nothing close to a polished receiver but he specialized as a deep threat for Georgia Tech's option offense leading the nation averaging nearly 30 yards per reception and like Moss is capable of making spectacular grabs. Unlike Moss though, being in a run-centric offense has helped Hill develop into an outstanding blocker and is known as a mature and hard working player in the locker room. Hill has the potential to be one of the best players to come out of this draft if he works at it, and has the right attitude to perhaps one day reach that potential.
Weaknesses: There's no bigger jump for a receiver to make in terms of scheme going from a triple-option offense in college to a pro style system in the NFL and Hill will have a lot to learn. Hill may be able to be an instant contributor as a deep threat in the NFL, but developing into a complete starting receiver will be a serious project that could take several years. Hill's success in the NFL will likely be dictated by which team drafts him. A team in desperate need of a receiver that expects Hill to start right away is taking an enormous risk, whereas a team that can show patience and allow Hill to work on his game and develop at a comfortable pace could reap the benefits a few years from now.
Projection: Hill's projected as a fringe first rounder, likely to go anywhere from the back end of the first round to the first few picks of the second round. Don't expect the Jets to consider Hill at 16, but if the Jets move back in the first round than Hill will be in the discussion. If the Jets draft another position in the first round, trading up in the second round is also a possibility if Hill gets through the first round without being drafted. If the Jets draft Hill, bringing in a stopgap number two receiver(Braylon Edwards?) to remove immediate expectations would make sense.
Rueben Randle, LSU
2011 stats: 14 games, 53 rec, 917 yards, 8 TDs
Height: 6'-3'' Weight: 210
40-Time: 4.55 Combine / 4.42 Pro Day
Strengths: Randle is a solid all-around target whose underwhelming college production is misleading given the mediocre quarterback play at LSU and Randle could end up being a better pro than college player. The short-to-intermediate areas are where Randle shines best, as he lacks downfield explosion but does a nice job running routes and recognizing coverages and is a big target for a quarterback to aim for. As typical with most LSU receivers, Randle blocks well and will be a valuable asset for teams that like to run the ball. While he's not a major deep threat, some scouts feel the 4.55 40-time at the combine doesn't do his on-the-field athleticism justice and he provided some evidence to that with an improved 4.42 4o-time at LSU's pro day.
Weaknesses: Randle never really came into his own at LSU and his total production over three years matches what the likes of Justin Blackmon and Kendall Wright did this past season alone. Though generally regarded as a good athlete, Randle's athleticism is not on the level of other prospects of similar stature such as Michael Floyd or Stephen Hill and thus Randle's upside in comparison to the two is questionable. Granted he's a less risky prospect than those two, but while those two receivers have legitimate superstar potential Randle may never become more than a good number two receiver.
Projection: Randle is generally regarded as an early second round pick that could sneak in to the tail end of round one for teams that could use a quality complementary receiver such as the Texans or Ravens. As for the Jets, he's a solid fit for the team schematically and in terms of skill set but won't be good value unless the Jets move around. If the Jets move back in the first round to the mid-to-late twenties or move up from the mid-second to the beginning of round two, Randle could be an option.
Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina
2011 stats: 13 games, 49 rec, 762 yards, 9 TDs
Height: 6'-3'' Weight: 216
40-Time: 4.50 (Pro Day)
Strengths: Alshon Jeffery at his best was one of the top receivers in the country, and after his sophomore season looked destined to be a top five pick. He's a size and athletic mismatch for essentially any defender up against him, displaying excellent ball skills with the athletic ability to out-jump and high point the ball. Jeffery's the type of receiver that may not have elite top end speed, but whose ability to get vertical means he's never truly covered. Jeffery utilizes his size well and isn't afraid to be physical, fighting off press coverage well and fearlessly going over the middle. After the catch Jeffery doesn't go down easy, often needing more than one defender to stop his forward progress. Jeffery's top speed isn't elite, but he reaches it deceptively quick and is explosive off the line for a player of his size.
Weaknesses: Jeffery is the definition of boom-or-bust prospect at the receiver position in this year's draft and whatever team takes him is taking a big gamble. Jeffery followed a sensational sophomore campaign by ballooning to a playing weight upwards of 230 pounds and the effect it had on his ability to perform was obvious. He has since trimmed back down to the weight he carried during his phenomenal sophomore season and ran well at his pro day, but the questions of his work ethic still remain and he will have questions to answer when teams bring him in for private workouts. One issue with Jeffery even before his weight issues was getting in and out of breaks, and route running will be an area he'll have to focus on getting better at when he reaches the NFL level.
Projection: Jeffery projects as an early-to-mid second round pick and could be an option for the Jets in the second round if the team addresses a different position in the first round and is comfortable with Jeffery's red flags. His upside is obvious and if a team gets a focused and hard-working Jeffery he could be the biggest steal of the draft and a top NFL receiver, but there are legitimate concerns over that possibility and there likely won't be any middle ground - he'll either be a star or useless.
Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers
2011 stats: 13 games, 115 rec, 1206 yards, 7 TDs
Height: 6'-2'' Weight: 211
Strengths: Mohamed Sanu is a versatile receiving weapon that can line up at any receiver position and even played wildcat quarterback for Rutgers his first two seasons. He may be the best pure possession receiver in the draft, as he boasts phenomenal hands and concentration with a fearlessness of going over the middle. Sanu practically made his living with the Scarlet Knights making himself available for the catch in short-to-intermediate areas and across the field. In many ways he exhibits the same qualities as Jerricho Cotchery, but is an even bigger target. Like Cotchery, Sanu is going to catch everything thrown his way and while lacking top end speed is deceptively very good after the catch.
Weaknesses: Sanu doesn't get much separation even at the collegiate level and is not going to be a deep threat in the NFL. He caps out as a possession receiver and teams looking for upside at receiver will want to look elsewhere. Competition level is a bit of a concern as playing in the Big East meant Rutgers were playing very little if any elite collegiate programs and thus Sanu was never truly tested by top quality.
Projection: Sanu is a projected second round pick that will probably be available where the Jets are picking. Unlike other possible second round picks at receiver like Alshon Jeffery or Brian Quick, Sanu is less about potential and flash and more about production albeit with limited upside. Especially given Tannenbaum's recent trend of selecting hometown prospects early on, it shouldn't surprise anybody if Sanu is drafted in the second round to plug the receiver need without gambling on more talented but riskier prospects.
Brian Quick, Appalachian State
2011 stats: 12 games, 71 rec, 2001 yards, 11 TDs Height: 6'-4'' Weight: 220
Strengths: Brian Quick is a tremendous natural athlete who is relatively new to the game of football, only starting to play competitively during his senior year of high school but boasting the natural abilities that made him a talented prep basketball star. Quick is likely to be the first player from the FCS competition level selected in the draft and rightfully so, given his dominant 2011 season that saw him eclipse the 2000 yard mark in 12 games. What makes that so impressive is just how raw Quick is. At the Senior Bowl Quick claimed that he rarely ever received positional coaching at Appalachian State and that the experience working under Minnesota's coaching staff was his first time really receiving that kind of attention. Upside is the key with Quick, as he's far away from a polished player but has nice speed and acceleration for a player with a big frame and has the natural ability to go up and make a grab that one would expect from a former basketball star.
Weaknesses: Between being relatively new to the receiver position and playing his college football at a school in the FCS, Quick is a long ways away from being a regular contributor on the NFL level and it's going to take a few years if he's ever going to develop into one. Quick's NFL prospects are going to be very much dependent on the team he lands with and the amount of patience they're willing to have with Quick in addition to how hard Quick works to improve his craft. Despite his projection as a relatively high pick, the best destination for Quick will probably be a team that has no immediate need at receiver and can bring him along slowly.
Projection: Quick could go anywhere in the second round but will likely be available for the Jets should the team remain where they sit in the second. Although, given the Jets' need for a player who can contribute immediately Quick doesn't really make much sense. Just like a scenario where the Jets draft Stephen Hill, it would be wise for the Jets to find a stopgap veteran to play across from Holmes if the Jets do decide Brian Quick is the receiver the team wants to draft.