Some New York Jets fans already have it penciled in — Joe Douglas should go offensive line at No. 4 in the draft and wide receiver at No. 10.
The theory is to support Zach Wilson as much as possible and while it’s a smart thought for a young quarterback, there are certainly other directions the Jets may choose to go. For starters, they had the worst-ranked defense in the NFL in 2021 in terms of points allowed — so they could probably use some help on that side of the ball too.
Douglas and Robert Saleh also have a philosophy about building through the trenches. After watching the impact that Ja’Marr Chase had in Cincinnati, however, wide receiver has become the new draft rave.
The Jets should have their pick of the litter at No. 10 but one NYJ beat reporter is warning fans not to fall in love with this theory.
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Hughes: ‘Elijah Moore Would Go Top-10’
The way a mailbag piece is typically written, a team expert or insider will select specific questions from fans and answer them one by one. Hughes’ first ask was: “How early do you think the Jets should draft a receiver?”
While his eventual answer was that Douglas should target one in round three, four or five, he noted that he would trade for a veteran WR1 — rather than draft one.
“The Jets don’t need a player to grow with quarterback Zach Wilson,” Hughes wrote. “They have plenty of those already (Moore, Michael Carter, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Mekhi Becton, etc.). They need players who can help him right now. Adding a receiver who is already developed, already proven and already someone defenses need to worry about is of greater value than drafting someone who might eventually be that guy.”
He also added a worrisome disclaimer about the 2022 wide receiver class.
“You need to forget about the immediate production of Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, Odell Beckham Jr. and others in recent years,” the beat reporter warned. “They are anomalies — not the norm. There are no prospects graded as highly as them in this year’s class (a source told me Elijah Moore would go top-10 if he were in this year’s draft), and most coaches will say wideouts commonly take two, maybe three years to reach their potential.”
In case you forgot, Moore fell to the second round in 2021 at pick No. 34. Five receivers were selected before him, yet according to Hughes’ source, he’d probably be the top target in this year’s class.
Before his injury, Alabama speed-demon Jameson Williams might have gone top 10 this year but now? There’s no guarantee any of these prospects will and if they do, it’ll probably be the Jets that draft them.
That begs the question, should they? If Hughes is correct and these prospects fail in comparison to Moore, there are far more pressing needs at No. 10.
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At this moment in time, there are five major first-round candidates at wide-out and one borderline target. They are:
- Garrett Wilson, Ohio State.
- Drake London, USC.
- Jameson Williams, Alabama.
- Chris Olave, Ohio State.
- Treylon Burks, Arkansas.
- Jahan Dotson, Penn State.
Pro Football Focus scouted the class, describing Wilson as “the natural.” The former Buckeye tops their ranking largely because he “moves differently from every other receiver in this class.”
They continued: “He’s got such easy separation and YAC [yards after catch] ability that his modest 6-foot, 192-pound frame is no worry.” Some feel the Ohio State star would be the perfect fit in Mike LaFleur’s system and a [Zach] Wilson to [Garrett] Wilson connection does make sense!
NFL Draft Buzz rated London at the top of the group, stating: “London has had a totally dominating 2021 season where he showcased his immense talent. We regard him as the best possession receiver in the 2022 Draft – but to put him in the possession bracket is underselling his skills.”
They highlighted his 6-foot-5 height, vertical leap, acceleration and contested-catch ability. Wilson is second on this list but London is third on PFF.
Williams fills out the top three, despite his recent torn ACL. NFL Draft Buzz wrote: “He’s emerged as the premier deep threat in college football and compares favorably to last year’s high pick Jaylen Waddle. We have given him our top possible grade for a deep threat meaning he is quite often unstoppable.”
These appear to be the top three and based on his injury, it’s unlikely Williams goes top 10. That leaves Wilson and London, although a third name has become popular among a contingent of Jets fans — Burks.
PFF noted that the Arkansas product’s “combination of size (6-foot-3, 225 pounds) and speed is unrivaled in the class.” NFL Draft Buzz compared him to Seattle Seahawks superstar DK Metcalf.
Not to discount Olave and Dotson but if they end up in New York, it would probably be because of a trade-down scenario or a sound-round selection, so we’ll disregard them for now.
The larger question still remains: Do any of these prospects fit the WR1 billing?