The annual combine offers insight as to how players' vitals impact their athletic abilities. For the New York Jets, the combine was crucial. The Jets hold four draft picks in the first three rounds and have several needs across their depth chart.
At the conclusion of the 2013 season, a majority of projected first round selections could be slotted atop the Jets' big board. Top-tier talent cannot be ignored, regardless of draft positioning. The first round of the draft can be chaotic, as players thought to have boasted top-10 talent sometimes tumble down the board.
The combine has altered the perception of the Jets' most coveted draft prospects. Here's a look at the Jets' updated first round big board after the conclusion of the combine:
Sammy Watkins (WR) - Clemson:
Watkins wasn't wildly impressive at the combine, but he did enough to justify why he's widely considered the most talented wideout available in the upcoming draft. The former Clemson stud ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash. His speed burst ability wasn't out-of-this-world, but he showcased a solid balance of agility, quickness and leaping ability. He posted decent numbers across the board, which included a 34-inch vertical jump and 4.34-second 20-yard shuttle. He projects as a top-10 pick, but remains the Jets' most sought after playmaker in the draft.
Marqise Lee (WR) - Southern California:
Lee is one of the most dynamic players at his position in this year's draft. He showcased the type of electric speed he flaunts when running vertical pass patterns at the combine, recording a 4.52-second time during the 40-yard dash. He was most impressive when demonstrating his leaping ability. Lee was a top performer in the broad jump, reaching 127 inches. He also posted a 38-inch vertical jump. Lee could be selected before the Jets take over the clock at No. 18 overall, but he's an intriguing talent that general manager John Idzik Jr. cannot ignore.
Eric Ebron (TE) - North Carolina:
Ebron lived up to the hype at the combine, where he was a top performer in the 40-yard dash and the broad jump. He was clocked at 4.6 seconds in the dash, ranking second among players at his position. His 120-inch leap was good enough to log him in a third-place tie in the broad jump. Ebron showcased his strength on the bench press, pumping 24 reps. He's the complete embodiment of what a playmaking tight end looks like from an athletic standpoint. His combination of size, speed and strength makes him the top player at his position in this year's draft. He would be a solid selection for the Jets, who desperately need to acquire a starting-caliber tight end this offseason.
Jordan Matthews (WR) - Vanderbilt:
Matthews increased his draft stock at the combine, where he participated in all seven drills. He demonstrated an elite combination of speed and strength, clocking a solid 4.46-second 40-yard dash time and pumping 21 reps on the bench press. Matthews' ball skills effectively complement his natural athleticism. At 6'3'' and 212 pounds, Matthews has the vitals needed to become one of the most difficult receivers to cover in the NFL. The Jets could face a difficult decision at No. 18 between Ebron and Matthews; neither will be on the board in the second round.
Khalil Mack (OLB) - Buffalo:
Mack put forth a beastly effort at the combine, earning top performer status in several categories. Mack solidified himself as a top-10 draft pick. He's perhaps the best edge-rusher available in this draft class. His speed is exceptional. Mack recorded a 4.65-second 40-yard dash time to rank fourth among players at his position. He showcased his lower body strength in the vertical and broad jumps. His 40-inch vertical ranked second among outside linebackers. He also demonstrated excellent footwork and agility in the 20-yard shuttle, finishing the drill in 4.18 seconds. The Jets would be lucky to snag Mack in the first round, but he's a savory talent that head coach Rex Ryan would love to have on his defense.
Allen Robinson (WR) - Penn State:
After recording massively impressive numbers in his final collegiate season, Robinson mounted a solid performance at the combine. He flaunted his speed burst ability in the 40-yard dash, clocking a 4.6-second time. He was a top performer in the broad jump, reaching 127 inches. Robinson also demonstrated efficient agility, finishing the 20-yard shuffle in four seconds flat. At 6'2'' and 220 pounds, Robinson possesses the vitals needed to excel in the NFL. His skill set complements his physical presence as a downfield threat. Robinson would be a quality addition to the Jets' anemic receiving corps.
Jace Amaro (TE) - Texas Tech:
Amaro put forth perhaps the most impressive performance among all skill position players at the combine. He was a top performer in six drills, demonstrating a supreme combination of size, speed and strength. At 6'5'' and 265 pounds, Amaro possesses a prototypical frame for a tight end. His speed makes him dynamic. He clocked a 4.74-second 40-yard dash time. He also showcased nifty agility, completing the 60-yard shuttle in 12.26 seconds. Amaro flaunted his strength on the bench press, pumping 28 reps. He's a big downfield target that has potential to develop into a premier player at his position. The Jets need a guy like that on offense.
Justin Gilbert (CB) - Oklahoma State:
Gilbert showcased why he's considered the best cornerback available in this year's draft at the combine. He was a top performer in the 40-yard dash and the bench press, demonstrating an elite combination of speed and strength. Gilbert clocked a 4.37-second time in the dash, the best among all defensive backs. He also recorded 20 reps on the bench press, falling just two reps shy of the top mark among DBs. Gilbert is a solid cover-corner capable of shutting down receivers. The Jets could be in the market for a new starting cornerback this offseason, making Gilbert an attractive selection.
Brandin Cooks (WR) - Oregon State:
Cooks is the fastest receiver available in this year's draft. He showcased his electric speed burst ability in the 40-yard dash, clocking a 4.33-second time, the fastest in the field. Cooks' quickness figures to make him difficult for defensive backs to cover in vertical passing routes. His agility is what makes him dynamic, though. Cooks was a top performer in the 20-yard and 60-yard shuttles. His elite cutback ability makes him an intriguing talent. At 5'10'' and 189 pounds, Cooks doesn't possess outstanding size, but his athleticism is superb. The Jets could certainly use a player with Cooks' skill set.
Anthony Barr (OLB) - UCLA:
Barr entered the combine as one of the most highly touted outside linebackers in his draft class. He didn't disappoint expectations, recording solid numbers across the board. Barr's pass-rushing skills are a product of his ability and quickness, which were on display at the combine. Barr was a top performer in the three-cone drill, blasting through the course in 6.82 seconds. His exceptional footwork should enable him to sustain immediate success in the NFL. The Jets' interior pass rush is solid, but they need an additional edge-rusher to help solidify their front seven.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TE) - Washington:
The bench press was the only event Seferian-Jenkins participated in at the combine. His performance was solid, but unspectacular, as he recorded 20 reps at 225 pounds. The former Washington tight end remains a viable draft option for the Jets, despite the fact that he didn't improve his value at the combine. Seferan-Jenkins is a dependable pass-catcher that has serious potential. At 6'5'' and 262 pounds, he's going to be difficult for defenders to cover downfield. The Jets could look toward drafting Seferian-Jenkins if Amaro and Ebron are both selected before they take over the clock at No. 18 overall.
Zach Martin (OT/G) - Notre Dame:
Martin is arguably the most NFL-ready offensive lineman available in this year's draft. He doesn't have significant experience as an interior lineman, but is dynamic enough to handle the responsibility. At 6'4'' and 308 pounds, Martin is a rock on the O-line. He was solid at the combine, pumping 29 reps on the bench press. He also demonstrated his agility, clocking a 4.59-second time during the 20-yard shuttle. The Jets need an immediate impact player to fill a glaring void on the right side of their O-line, assuming either Austin Howard or Willie Colon are not retained.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S) - Alabama:
Clinton-Dix is one of the most talented safeties available in this year's draft. At 6'1'' and 208 pounds, Clinton-Dix doesn't boast an ideal NFL build. His athleticism makes up for it, though. He can cover some serious ground in the secondary, exemplified by his speed. He ran a 4.58-second 40-yard dash and showcased above average lower body strength, leaping 33 inches in the vertical jump, and 119 inches in the broad jump. The Jets need safety help. Clinton-Dix would help fulfill that need.
Kelvin Benjamin (WR) - Florida State
Benjamin didn't impress at the combine, despite participating in all seven events. At 6'5'' and 234 pounds, Benjamin presents a sizable mismatch for most NFL defensive backs. He doesn't boast the breakaway speed needed to take advantage of his size, though. He was clocked at 4.61 seconds at the combine. The former Florida State standout was a big-play receiver capable of beating double coverage downfield. His natural abilities on the field are intriguing, despite a mediocre combine performance. Benjamin could develop into an eventual No. 1 receiver, which could entice the Jets if they're willing to take on a project at receiver.
Calvin Pryor (S) - Louisville:
Pryor compares to Clinton-Dix in terms of his build (5'11'' and 207 pounds) and his athletic ability. Pryor will likely be drafted after Clinton-Dix, but presents more of a physical presence in the secondary than his counterpart. Pryor was a top performer in the bench press at his position, pumping 18 reps. He recorded a 4.58-second 40-yard dash time and was also charted at 34.5 inches on the vertical jump. Pryor would help solidify the Jets' current tandem of Antonio Allen and Dawan Landry at safety.
Kony Ealy (OLB/DE) - Missouri:
Ealy is an explosive edge-rusher who demonstrates exceptional footwork and flexibility when penetrating the backfield. At 6'4'' and 273 pounds, Ealy is the right size to play outside linebacker in Ryan's 3-4 base defense. Ealy doesn't boast supreme speed. He was clocked at 4.92 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine. His maneuverability makes him appear quicker en-route to opposing quarterbacks, though. Ealy was a top performer in the three-cone drill, completing the course in 6.83 seconds. He has room to improve, but is a raw talent that will be hard to ignore on draft day.
Darqueze Dennard (CB) - Michigan State:
Dennard participated in just two events at the combine. His performance was average, as he clocked a 4.51-second 40-yard dash time and recorded 15 reps on the bench press. At 5'11'' and 199 pounds, Dennard doesn't boast elite size at his position. He's a true cover-corner who plays physical press coverage, though. He has potential to develop into a legitimate difference-maker in the secondary. The Jets will certainly take notice on draft day.
Jason Verrett (CB) - Texas Christian:
Verrett was exceptional at the combine, registering top performer status in the 40-yard dash and vertical jump. At 5'9'' and 189 pounds, Verrett is an undersized corner that doesn't project as a starting-caliber player. He's an intriguing prospect, though. Verrett clocked a 4.38-second 40-yard dash time, falling just short of Gilbert's time. His vertical leaping ability (39 inches) is impressive because of his size. His combination of speed and natural athletic ability could land him toward the top of several big boards at his position.
Mike Evans (WR) - Texas A&M:
Evans participated in six events at the combine, but failed to earn top performer status in any of them. At 6'5'' and 231 pounds, Evans boasts an NFL build, but it's questionable how much of his success at the collegiate level was actually a product of Johnny Manziel. Evans is a physical receiver that gains separation from receivers by using his strength. He recorded just 12 reps on the bench press, though. He clocked a decent 40-yard dash time of 4.53 seconds, but wasn't incredibly impressive. He remains on the Jets' big board, but took a dive because of his showing at the combine.
Bishop Sankey (RB) - Washington:
Sankey is deceivingly strong at 5'9'' and 209 pounds. He recorded 26 reps on the bench press to rank second among all running back at the combine. His speed effectively complements his enormous strength. Sankey clocked a 40-yard dash time of 4.49 seconds. His agility appropriately complements his speed burst ability, as he was a top performer in the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle. Sankey isn't considered a clear-cut NFL-style running back, but certainly has the attributes needed to develop into a solid player.
Troy Niklas (TE) - Notre Dame:
Niklas put forth a solid effort at the combine, where he earned top performer status in the bench press and 60-yard shuttle. Niklas demonstrated elite strength and swift agility, pumping 28 reps and completing the shuttle in 12.19 seconds. He also showcased above average leaping ability in the vertical and broad jumps. Niklas, a John Mackey Award semifinalist, is a converted edge-rusher that possesses a dynamic combination of size and athleticism. The Jets could potentially target Niklas because he boasts better blocking ability than most other players at his position in this year's draft class.
Odell Beckham Jr. (WR) - Louisiana State:
Beckham showcased solid vertical speed and strong agility at the combine. At 5'11'' and 198 pounds, Beckham doesn't boast supreme size on the outside, but he's able to leverage his speed and cutback prowess to gain advantages against defensive backs. Beckham clocked a 4.43-second 40-yard dash time and earned top performer status in both shuttles. The Jets will look toward other receivers in the first round, but Beckham remains an intriguing talent, nonetheless.
Tre Mason (RB) - Auburn:
Mason is perhaps the most dynamic running back available in this year's draft class. At 5'8'' and 207 pounds, Mason doesn't boast supreme size at his position. He's incredibly athletic, though, which he proved at the combine. Mason ran a solid 4.50-second 40-yard dash. He was a top performer in the vertical jump, leaping 38.5 inches. He also charted an impressive broad jump, recording a 126-inch mark. The Jets aren't in dire need of a running back, but Mason is a concrete fall back option if their big board crumbles in the first round.
Kyle Van Noy (OLB) - BYU
Van Noy isn't the most intriguing draft prospect on the Jets' big board, but he's a versatile talent that can cover a lot of open space. Van Noy participated in six drills at the combine, demonstrating solid speed and agility. He ran a 4.71-second 40-yard dash and completed the 20-yard shuttle in 4.2 seconds. He also recorded 21 reps on the bench press and charted a 32.5-inch vertical jump. The Jets need help with their exterior pass rush. Van Noy isn't the most technically sound OLB available in the draft, but he's a solid player, regardless.
Ryan Groy (G) - Wisconsin:
Groy is a durable offensive guard who can hold his ground. He participated in six events at the combine, posting respectable numbers across the board. He racked up 26 reps during the bench press and clocked a 4.47-second time during the 20-yard shuttle. At 6'5'' and 316 pounds, Groy has the NFL build needed to man his position. Groy isn't explosive off the snap, but makes up for that with his strength. He's a well-rounded player that could develop into a starter within a few seasons of professional experience.