As the NY Jets inch closer towards April 29th and the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, speculation on who the team will select with the second overall pick continues to grow.
Will they keep the pick and draft a quarterback such as BYU’s Zach Wilson or will they trade back and select a player like the athletic pass-catching tight end from Florida, Kyle Pitts?
They could also opt to keep Sam Darnold and boost the offensive line by selecting offensive tackle Penei Sewell from Oregon. Regardless of which direction the Jets go, general manager Joe Douglas has some very important decisions to make.
Douglas has publicly stated that his philosophy is to build a consistent team through the draft and that will require success not just in Round 1 but throughout the entire draft.
Ask coaches and general managers what the secret to a successful draft class is and most will tell you that it’s having the ability to select productive players in the mid-to-late rounds.
Fans and media alike often tend to focus on the high-profile players usually found in the early rounds of the draft while the late-round guys tend to fly under the radar.
NFL greats such as Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs, and George Kittle were all drafted in the fifth round of their respective drafts.
The Jets recently addressed the wide receiver position during the first week of free agency by signing Corey Davis and Keelan Cole to contracts. Both players are expected to have significant roles with the team in 2021.
With their recent upgrades at the receiver position, the Jets will almost certainly not pick another one in the early rounds of this year’s draft but instead focus on other positions of need.
That being said, the Jets may still look to add another receiver in the later rounds of the draft to bolster their depth and as a possible future replacement for Jamison Crowder who is in the final year of his contract.
The 2021 NFL Draft is once again loaded with talent at the wide receiver position. Let’s take a look at three players that may be available for the Jets to draft in the late rounds.
Next: 3. Sage Surratt
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3. NY Jets draft target: Sage Surratt, WR, Wake Forest
A big-bodied receiver at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds out of Wake Forest, Sage Surratt opted out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic but remains an intriguing player for teams in need of a physical and gritty receiver.
Surratt originally began to turn heads as a receiver back at Lincolnton High School where over the course of his career he caught an astounding 348 passes for 5,626 yards and 73 touchdowns.
In his final season alone, Surratt had 130 receptions for 2,104 yards and 28 touchdowns. As if that wasn’t enough, he also graduated with a 5.09 GPA and was named valedictorian of his class.
As a result of his high academic achievement, Surratt received an offer from Harvard and was originally committed to them before switching over to Wake Forest.
The former high school phenom redshirted his true freshman season but burst on to the scene the following year by catching 41 passes for 581 yards and four touchdowns.
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Surratt took his game to an even higher level for the Demon Deacons in his redshirt sophomore season by amassing 66 receptions for 1,001 yards and 11 touchdowns before a shoulder injury ended his year after nine games.
His performance in 2019 earned the standout receiver first-team All-ACC honors and a nomination as a Biletnikoff Award semi-finalist.
In 2020, Surratt chose to opt-out and began preparation for the NFL Draft. Due to his absence last season, Surratt has somewhat flown under the radar, but his prior accomplishments combined with his athleticism should prove attractive to teams.
Sage Surratt possesses excellent hands, terrific ball skills, and is a highly intelligent player. The Jets are still in need of a big physical receiver who can gain extra yards after the catch.
As such, the Wake Forest product could potentially fill that void as an early Day 3 pick.
Next: 2. Marlon Williams
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2. NY Jets draft target: Marlon Williams, WR, UCF
Another big target wide receiver at 6-foot and 222 pounds, Marlon Williams played four seasons for the UCF Knights with an increase in playing time each year.
Success came early for Williams as a star player for McGill-Toolen High School. In his junior year, he led the Yellow Jackets to a 7A State Championship both as a receiver and as a quarterback, running the Wildcat offense.
As a high school senior, Williams hauled in 47 receptions for 990 yards and also rushed for seven touchdowns. He helped guide McGill-Toolen to another State Championship appearance but unfortunately, this time they lost.
The highly recruited star receiver initially committed to USC but later rescinded his commitment and eventually chose UCF for the opportunity to play right away in a pass-friendly offensive system.
Williams accumulated over 500 receiving yards and three touchdowns in his first two seasons at UCF both as a receiver and as a kick returner.
The Mobile, Alabama product emerged in 2019 as a junior making seven starts and hauling in 51 receptions which were second best on the team. Williams also displayed his big-play ability by catching touchdown passes of 73 and 75 yards respectively.
In 2020 as a senior, Williams caught 71 passes for 1,039 yards and 10 touchdowns. He went on to accumulate over 100 yards receiving in five of his eight appearances. His performance would earn him an All-AAC first-team selection.
Marlon Williams will be an attractive option for the Jets as a Day 3 selection. He is a receiver with excellent hands and the ability to make acrobatic catches in contested situations. He is also very productive in gaining yardage after the catch.
As a bonus, he has experience in returning both punts and kickoffs and can be utilized as a gadget player due to his experience as a wildcat quarterback.
Next: 1. Anthony Schwartz
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1. NY Jets draft target: Anthony Schwartz, WR, Auburn
When talking about the former Auburn Tiger, two words come to mind. Very fast! At 6-foot and 179 pounds, Anthony Schwartz has been described by many as “the fastest player in college football.”
In 2018 as a high school senior, Schwartz was the Gatorade National Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year. He also set a record by an athlete under the age of 18 when he recorded a time of 10.07 seconds in the 100-meter dash at a Florida state finals track meet.
In addition to being a world-class sprinter, Schwartz was also a dynamic deep threat receiver for American Heritage High School where he helped lead the Patriots to back-to-back Florida Class 5A State titles.
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The Pembroke Pines, Florida native committed to play football for Auburn University and immediately made an impact. In 2018 as a true freshman, Schwartz scored seven touchdowns and hauled 22 receptions for 357 yards and an impressive 16.2 yards per catch average.
Schwartz continued to show progress as a receiver over the next two years by catching 41 and 54 passes respectively for a combined total of 1,076 yards
The speedster will need to refine his skillset at the NFL level and is regarded by many scouts as a work in progress. Specifically, Schwartz will need to improve on his route-running and ball tracking ability.
That being said, many teams have already expressed an interest in Schwartz and have conducted pre-draft interviews with him. The Jets are one of those teams.
Anthony Schwartz possesses explosive speed, quickness, and athleticism. He is far from a finished product as a wide receiver, but his ability to stretch the field as a deep threat makes him an intriguing late-round option for the Jets.