INDIANAPOLIS - When Jets GM Joe Douglas watched the Chiefs and the 49ers play in Super Bowl LIV he felt the need … the need for speed.
And when he looked at the offensive players on the Jets' current roster, he knew he had a lot of work to do to find it.
"I think you saw that in the two teams that competed for the Super Bowl this year, how many explosive players they had on both sides of the ball," Douglas said. "Everyone is trying to get bigger, faster, smarter, tougher. We need explosive guys. We need explosive, dynamic playmakers."
Yes, they do. And lucky for the Jets, there could be several available when they make the 11th pick in the upcoming NFL draft.
Douglas could have his pick of top receivers, including Alabama's Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III, or Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb. They each dazzled with their 40-yard dash times at the NFL Combine on Thursday night, solidifying their positions as Top 15 picks.
And that presents a huge dilemma for the Jets' rookie GM and his coach, Adam Gase. The Jets are desperate for offensive line help, and there could be one or two top linemen available at 11. So what's more important? Finding someone to protect quarterback Sam Darnold? Or finding a playmaker to make things happen once Darnold gets him the ball?
"What's the best thing, what's best available and what are our options?" Gase said. "You just don't know until you get there."
What they know right now is that their need at receiver is nearly as great as their need at offensive line. They do have Jamison Crowder coming back, but Robby Anderson appears to be headed toward free agency and Quincy Enunwa's future is murky due to multiple neck injuries. They could dip into the free agent market, but unless the Cowboys let Amari Cooper slip away, this year's class is thin.
The 2020 draft class, though, isn't thin at receiver at all, with some believing as many as 25 could be selected in the first three rounds, so the Jets could find a playmaker on Day 2, too.
"There's a lot of them," Gase said. "The wide receiver group is a large group. There's a lot of speed. There's a lot of guys with experience. There's a lot of guys who can do a lot of good things."
"Yeah, you've probably heard every GM and coach talk about this wide receiver class," Douglas added. "It's a good one. Just watching them go across the stage, there's a lot of talented players. So we do feel good about this group. There are some really good wide receivers in this class."
It's not just the depth that's impressive, either. There is some impressive talent at the top in Jeudy, Lamb and Ruggs. Heading into the combine, the 6-1, 193-pound Jeudy was generally considered the best available receiver, coming off a 77-catch, 1,163-yard, 10-touchdown season. And Alabama does have a track record of producing elite NFL receivers, like Cooper and Julio Jones.
But Lamb (6-2, 198) is right behind him, and scouts believe he has more versatility that would allow him to play outside or in the slot. Lamb ran a 4.50 in the combine 40 on Thursday night, not far from the 4.45 Jeudy ran.
And then there's the 5-11, 188-pound Ruggs, who was overshadowed by Jeudy with the Tide the past two seasons. Ruggs may be smaller than many NFL teams want, but he ran a blistering 4.27 in his 40 on Thursday night -- just .05 seconds off the combine record.
That speed will be hard for anyone to overlook, and he could be exactly the kind of weapon that Gase knows his 32nd-ranked offense needs. Yes, they need offensive linemen too, and that will have to be considered. And they absolutely could find receiving help in free agency where Emmanuel Sanders or Breshad Perriman could be interesting and affordable options.
But when the Jets are on the clock at No. 11, the talent available at receiver this year could be too great to pass up.
"Any time you can have anybody that really you throw a ball three yards and they can go 65, that's always great to have," Gase said. "It's also great to have a guy who can go over the top, that can really stretch the field, cause the safety to lean one way, make sure that they have some 2-high looks. It opens up the lane for running backs.
"Any time you add speed to your team that's a positive thing."