The NY Jets are in desperate need of help at wide receiver and they’ll be looking for that help in each round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
The NY Jets will go into the 2020 NFL Draft with an eye on upgrading a number of crucial positions. Perhaps no position remains of more importance to address in the draft this year than wide receiver.
General manager Joe Douglas is going to address wide receiver in the draft, and it remains very likely that the team addresses it in multiple ways in round rounds.
They could select a receiver as early as the first round with their 11th overall pick or they could instead opt to fill the hole on Day 2 and 3 of the draft. Either way, the Jets are going to draft at least one wide receiver — likely multiple.
The Jets have a selection in every round of the upcoming draft with the exception of the seventh round. But for the sake of accounting for all possibilities including trade downs, we will include a receiver in Round 7 as well.
With that, let’s take a look at a wide receiver the Jets could target in each round of the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft.
Next: Round 1
Round 1: CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma)
The overwhelming likelihood is that the Jets select an offensive tackle with their first-round selection. But the draft is unpredictable and there’s no telling how things will actually shape out.
If the Jets don’t value the tackles remaining on the board at that spot, they might be tempted to go with one of the class’ top receiver prospects. And there’s a decent chance that they might have their pick of the top three.
Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb and Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III sit atop one of the most talented wide receiver classes in recent memory. It’s really hard to go wrong with any of the three incredibly gifted prospects
But in this case, we’re going to give the slight edge to Lamb.
Lamb is the most physically dominant receiver of the three who plays much larger than his 6-foot-1, 196-pound frame. The Oklahoma superstar has outstanding body control, incredible ball skills, and phenomenal hands that make him one of the best pure possession receivers in the class.
But pigeon-holing him into a “possession” role would be doing him a major disservice.
While Lamb isn’t a burner, he’s perhaps the best yards-after-catch receiver in the class as he has no trouble running through or around would-be tacklers. He has quick hands, fantastic athletics, and a high football IQ that allows him to separate from defensive backs with ease.
Jeudy and Ruggs are great, but Lamb offers perhaps the highest upside and the safest floor of the three.
If the Jets go receiver in the first round, Lamb should be the pick if he’s on the board.
Next: Round 2
Round 2: Michael Pittman Jr. (USC)
Another strong-framed X receiver, the Jets would be extremely fortunate to see USC star Michael Pittman Jr. fall all the way to pick No. 48 in the second round. But if he’s still there, they’d be foolish not to jump at the opportunity.
Pittman is a physically imposing receiver with an alpha mentality. He uses his 6-foot-4, 223-pound frame to box out defensive backs and win in contested-catch situations. His catch radius is off the charts and he has some of the strongest hands in the class.
What he lacks in straight-line speed he more than makes up for with toughness as few defensive backs will be able to out-muscle the big-bodied wideout.
While he doesn’t possess quite the DeAndre Hopkins-like upside that Lamb possesses, Pittman is an NFL-ready talent who should have no trouble making an early impact in his NFL career with the ability to develop into a borderline No. 1 receiver within a couple of years.
Pittman is an improving route-runner who has been praised for his high character and who comes from a bloodline of NFL genes. His father played for a decade in the NFL as a running back, primarily with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Day 2 is likely where the Jets will do the majority of their work at receiver and if Pittman manages to make it to the middle of the second round, there’s a good chance that he’ll be the pick.
Steam has been picking up regarding Pittman going earlier than expected, but if the Jets could get lucky, they may just land a steal at pick No. 48.
Next: Round 3
Round 3: Van Jefferson (Florida)
The connections between the Jets and Van Jefferson is obvious and the more reports we hear, the more likely it seems that Jefferson will be playing in green and white next season.
The Florida standout is the son of current Jets wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson and has already met with the team prior to the start of the draft.
Jefferson is a savvy, nuanced route-runner who possesses a high floor given his technical refinement. He may never be a true No. 1 receiver, but few prospects are more NFL-ready than Jefferson.
However, there are certainly concerns about his age (he’ll be 24-years-old before he ever takes a snap) and his recent injury history that forced him to miss the NFL Combine.
That said, the Jets could have an inside look at his medicals given his connection with the team and if everything checks out, they likely won’t have the same reservations that other teams do.
Jefferson has good hands and might be the best pure route-runner in the entire class — which is saying a lot with this crop of receivers. He’d be a perfect, safe option on Day 2 of the draft, especially if the Jets are intent on shooting for the moon with their other picks.
The pairing seems like a match made in football heaven and don’t be surprised to see Jefferson suit up for the Jet next season under the tutelage of his father.
Next: Round 4
Round 4: Donovan Peoples-Jones (Michigan)
If Jefferson is the safe, sure-thing option in Round 3, Michigan’s Donovan Peoples-Jones might be the exact opposite.
Peoples-Jones never lived up to his potential at Michigan after entering the program as a five-star recruit and the top-ranked wide receiver prospect in the country.
His collegiate career was certainly hampered by poor quarterback play, but it does say something that he never managed to top 100 receiving yards in a game nor did he record more than 650 yards in a single season.
Peoples-Jones is another tall, physical receiver who wins in jump-ball situations. But unlike Lamb and Pittman, he struggles to separate from defenders and isn’t a very nuanced route-runner.
He has the speed (4.48 40-yard dash) and size (6-foot-2, 212 pounds) to be an excellent receiver at the next level. But he’s still a few tweaks away from reaching his full potential.
This would be a high-risk, high-reward mid-round pickup. But if the team goes with a few safer picks, then it might be worth it to take a flier on the uber-talented Peoples-Jones.
Next: Round 5
Round 5: Joe Reed (Virginia)
The Jets could kill two birds with one stone with the fifth-round selection of Virginia’s Joe Reed by landing themselves a dynamic, shifty receiver as well as an exciting return man.
Reed is built like a running back standing at 6-foot, 224 pounds. That’s probably because he did play a lot of running back in high school before switching over to receiver full time at Virginia.
The Cavaliers had him line up both on the outside and in the slot and he used his running back background to make huge plays after the catch. He’s a speedy, shifty, powerful runner who is able to demonstrate his skills not only after the catch, but on special teams.
Reed is one of only 10 players in FBS history with at least 3,000 kick return yards and he scored a total of five kick-return touchdowns during his time at Virginia. However, the exciting Reed is more of an underneath option on offense than anything else.
He’s not a very good ball tracker and his lack of length makes it very difficult for him to win one-on-one battles downfield. Early on in his career, Reed would likely be a depth receiver who could immediately step in and return kicks.
But as he matures more as a route-runner he could find a more consistent role on the offense.
For a fifth-round flier, you could do much worse than Joe Reed.
Next: Round 6
Round 6: Quez Watkins (Southern Miss)
The Jets own two sixth-round picks in this year’s draft and it might make sense to use one of them on a wideout with game-changing speed if still available at this point. That player, Quez Watkins, would be a perfect late-round target for Gang Green.
Watkins ran a blazing 4.35 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and he put that speed to good use last season at Southern Miss as the junior hauled in 1,178 yards on 64 catches pacing the team in both categories and being named first-team All-C-USA.
Right now, Watkins has one thing going for him — speed.
The Jets are still reeling after the loss of Robby Anderson in free agency and while Breshad Perriman should be able to fill his role temporarily, Watkins would still make for an excellent pickup. After all, it never hurts to have more speed on the roster.
Watkins is one of the fastest players in the entire class and he has good length at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds as well. That combination makes him a dangerous deep threat, even if the other aspects of his game are still coming along.
Watkins is far from a perfect receiver, but he would be an excellent value pickup here in the sixth round if the Jets could get their hands on him.
Next: Round 7
Round 7: Lawrence Cager (Georgia)
The Jets do not currently own a seventh-round pick, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be selecting in the seventh round before the weekend is over. And if they do, Georgia’s Lawrence Cager makes a ton of sense.
For starters, the Jets have done their fair share of pre-draft work on Cager who was one of the featured pieces on Georgia’s offense this year. He established himself as a favorite of quarterback Jake Fromm early on before a pair of injuries forced him to miss five games.
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Keeping with the theme of some others on this list, Cager is a big-bodied receiver with incredible size and length. The 22-year-old stands at nearly 6-foot-5, 220 pounds and has no issue putting that large frame of his to work.
Cager is at his best when utilizing his high-point skills and showing off his catch radius. His exceptional length allows him to get his hands on balls most receivers would only dream of.
However, he lacks the ability to separate from man coverage consistently and is still an inexperienced route-runner.
He has good hands and can win with his physicality, but Cager isn’t ready to be a starting-caliber receiver early on in his career. But with proper development and coaching, he could get there by his second or third NFL season.
A worthy flier in the seventh round in a reasonable target that the Jets have shown plenty of interest in.