The NY Jets have a massive void at WR to fill this offseason. Here are 3 possible options the team could consider in round 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft.
With the NFL offseason officially set to begin next week with the start of the legal tampering period, free agency, and then eventually the 2020 NFL Draft, clearly the NY Jets have a lot of work to do.
After all, the team has many holes to fill and many tasks to accomplish after another disappointing season that saw the team once again miss the playoffs in 2019. That includes completely revamping the offensive line, adding talent at wide receiver and improving the cornerback position to name a few.
In order to fill these voids, the team will undoubtedly explore all avenues, including free agency, the trade market, and the 2020 NFL Draft.
What’s interesting about the Jets’ scenario, however, is that the free-agent market at both offensive line and wide receiver, arguably the team’s top two areas of need, is relatively thin. Sure, the team will certainly look to sign players at both positions, but it’s also likely that both positions will be addressed in the draft.
With the No. 11 overall pick, it’s expected that the Jets will take one of the draft’s top four offensive tackles, which includes Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs, Alabama’s Jedrick Wills, Louisville’s Mekhi Becton, and Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, depending on who’s available.
If that turns out to be the case, it’s also expected that the team would use its second-round pick on a wideout in order to surround 22-year-old quarterback Sam Darnold with more weapons and more talent.
Luckily for the Jets, the 2020 NFL Draft class happens to be quite deep at the wide receiver position. With that in mind, let’s take a look at three potential options that may be available for the Jets with the No. 48 overall pick in the second round.
Next: 3. Talented Pac-12 WR
3. Brandon Aiyuk – Arizona State
Standing at 6-foot and weighing in around 205 pounds, Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk is an intriguing prospect given his collegiate production as well as his versatility.
Beginning his college career at the junior college level, Aiyuk then played two seasons for the Sun Devils. In 2018, he totaled 33 receptions for 474 yards and three touchdowns. In 2019, however, he broke out a bit, bringing in 65 receptions for 1,192 yards and eight touchdowns, earning third-team All American status and first-team All-Pac 12 honors.
Although he isn’t the fastest receiver given his 4.5 40-yard dash time, he does have solid size and speed, which allows him to stretch the field. He’s also proven to be quick and explosive in short-yardage situations, while also having a knack to make plays after the catch. In addition, his 40 inch vertical at the NFL combine was only beaten by three other wide receivers.
Ultimately, many have been excited by Aiyuk’s potential ceiling at the NFL level, which once again comes back to his versatility. While he has the ability to stretch the field and perform well with vertical routes, it’s also believed that he could find success at the next level immediately in the slot. In addition, he’s shown the ability to contribute on special teams, which is always a positive.
When it comes to the Jets, Jamison Crowder mans the slot, though head coach Adam Gase loves to mix and match players and he’s shown an affinity for players that can contribute in different ways. Adding Aiyuk to the Jets offense would give Darnold a dynamic and explosive wide receiver, while also potentially opening up the playbook a bit more for Gase.
And if the Arizona State product can learn quickly and develop, he could prove to be a much-needed weapon for the green and white.
Next: 2. Family reunion?
2. Michael Pittman Jr. – USC
USC’s Michael Pittman Jr. is more of a physical wide receiver given his size, as he stands 6-foot-4 and weighs in around 220 pounds.
Playing all four years for the Trojans, Pittman Jr. improved each and every year, finishing with a strong senior season that saw him haul in 101 receptions for 1,275 yards and 11 touchdowns. In 2018, meanwhile, he totaled 41 receptions for 758 yards and six touchdowns.
Given his size and physicality, Pittman Jr. has proven to be a weapon on the outside, showing the ability to make contested catches and separate himself from opposing corners. One of his best traits is his ability to track a ball while using his size and hands to go up and make the grab in difficult situations.
At USC, however, he was used in a variety of ways and showed that he has enough agility and quickness to make an impact in the short area game, though gaining separation from the line of scrimmage isn’t his strongest asset.
As far as his speed goes, the 22-year-old isn’t the fastest wideout in this year’s draft class, but he moves well for a player of his size and has shown a knack for gaining yards after the catch.
In terms of how he would fit in with the Jets, Pittman Jr. may not be the true No. 1 wide receiver the team is looking for at the moment, but he does have potential and could provide the team with another asset on offense.
What’s also important to note is that he has a history with Darnold, who also played his collegiate ball at USC. The two played two seasons together, connecting on 29 receptions for 486 yards. If he’s available, it may make sense to reunite Pittman Jr. with Darnold in the professional ranks.
Next: 1. Adding another dog to the offense?
1. Justin Jefferson – LSU
Standing 6-foot-1 and weighing in around 200 pounds, LSU’s Justin Jefferson could also be an option that the Jets consider in round two if he remains on the board.
Although he played in just four games and made no receptions as a freshman in 2017, Jefferson broke out in 2018, becoming the team’s top receiver by bringing in 54 catches for 875 yards and six touchdowns in 13 games. Then in 2019, he continued to shine, as he finished with a whopping 111 receptions for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns.
With his ability to make contested catches and his strong ball skills, Jefferson proved to be a reliable target at LSU as evidenced by his monster 2019 campaign, though much of his success came in the slot as opposed to on the outside. Many see the 21-year-old as a possession receiver capable of keeping the sticks moving thanks to his incredibly quick hands and strong focus. He has also proven to have decent burst off of the line of scrimmage.
Aside from his strengths, however, there are indeed some areas for improvement. Some felt that LSU’s scheme allowed Jefferson to thrive in college and that he’ll need to develop as a route runner in the professional ranks. Gaining separation on the outside and against tight man coverage is also believed to be an area that he can work on.
In terms of how he would fit with the Jets, he may not be the best option given that Crowder currently occupies the slot, though, at just 21 years of age, his potential and upside could make him an intriguing possibility.
Should the Jets like what they’ve seen from him in college and throughout the combine and feel as if Gase can develop him, Jefferson could make sense in round two as a possible weapon for Darnold moving forward, if he’s still on the board.