5 Risky Picks the New York Jets Must Consider in 2014 NFL Draft

Aidan MackieSenior Analyst IApril 16, 2014

5 Risky Picks the New York Jets Must Consider in 2014 NFL Draft

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    With bigger risk comes great reward. 

    It's one of the most basic principles known to man. 

    This principle perhaps rings most true in the NFL draft, where polarizing prospects often go down one of two directions: superstardom or flameout. 

    The New York Jets have been burnt by risky prospects in the past (Vernon Gholston, anyone?), but they cannot be afraid to pull the trigger on some of the highest-upside players in this year's draft class. 

    Click through to see which risky prospects the Jets shouldn't be afraid to gamble on in May. 

Marqise Lee

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    A year ago, Marqise Lee likely would have gone in the top five of the draft. 

    Today, he's widely regarded as a late first-round pick. 

    So what made his stock plummet so much in just one year? Injuries, mainly. 

    Lee dealt with nagging injuries all season long in 2013, and they forced him to miss three games. And when he was on the field, the former USC star wasn't the same player as he was in 2012, as his receiving total dropped nearly 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. 

    His bumpy senior season has many NFL teams wondering about his long-term health and overall effectiveness.

    Despite the concerns, he is still one of the most talented wideouts in the draft. 

    The California native's top-notch speed, elite athleticism and above-average blocking ability make him a perfect fit for Marty Mornhinweg's offense, as he could create big plays downfield while not being a liability in the running game. 

    Unless a truly once-in-a-blue-moon player like Eric Ebron or Justin Gilbert is on the board when the Jets are on the clock for the first time, they should take the risk and gamble on Lee. 

Brandin Cooks

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    Per NFL.com, the Jets have significant interest in Brandin Cooks. 

    There's no wonder why, as he is one of the most explosive offensive players in this draft class. 

    He possesses phenomenal straight-line speed, along with terrific elusiveness and coordination. He also boasts a tremendous football character, as he is a hard worker who has never missed a game in high school or college. 

    The 20-year-old is coming off one of the greatest seasons for a wide receiver in recent memory, as he stacked up a ridiculous 128 catches, 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns. 

    So what makes him so risky? His size and strength. 

    On paper, he is decently sized (5'10", 189 pounds). However, the Oregon State product lacks the strength to compete with defenders in man-to-man coverage, and physical coverage can often dominate him.

    Cooks is unlikely to grow a great deal stronger, so there are concerns about how he will adapt to playing the physical secondaries of the NFL. 

    However, his amazing speed and playmaking ability cannot be overlooked. 

    He could become a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses and significantly open up New York's passing game. 

Austin Seferian-Jenkins

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    Even with the re-signing of Jeff Cumberland, the Jets are in desperate need of a big, physical target who can make plays downfield. 

    Austin Seferian-Jenkins is one of the top three tight ends available, and the Jets might be able to acquire him with their second-round pick. 

    He possesses great size (6'5", 262 pounds) and strength, along with some of the finest hands you'll ever see on a big man. In fact, the Washington product only had three drops on 149 targets over the last two seasons in college. 

    However, as fine as he is on the field, he's a serious question mark off it. 

    He pleaded guilty to a DUI back in 2013. The Washington native was caught with a blood-alcohol level of 0.18, more than double the legal limit. 

    Although Seferian-Jenkins has stayed out of trouble since the conviction, a DUI is a major red flag when trying to evaluate a 21-year-old's future. 

    It's a close call, but his talent outweighs his off-field character concerns, as he could be the big checkdown option that New York has lacked in recent seasons. 

Marcus Roberson

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    To say the Jets are in desperate need of a cornerback following the release of Antonio Cromartie would be a significant understatement. 

    New York currently has no player on the roster who is capable of starting opposite Dee Milliner. 

    Therefore, Gang Green is a virtual lock to select a cornerback in the first few rounds of the draft. 

    Marcus Roberson would be a terrific option in the second round, despite the red flags that come along with him. 

    At 6'0", 191 pounds, he has great size and length, along with a tremendous ability to be physical with the biggest receivers. His quickness off the snap and anticipation are also top-notch. 

    The Florida product's character is a major question mark, though. 

    He missed five games last season due to injury, but even worse, he was suspended a game for violating team rules

    To add to that, he was arrested for underage drinking back in 2011. 

    However, the Fort Lauderdale native is still one of the premier cornerback talents of the draft, and he could end up providing the Jets with a Pro Bowl-caliber player for just a second-round pick. 

De'Anthony Thomas

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    Unless the Jets sign speedster Chris Johnson prior to the draft (which seems increasingly likely), they will enter the festivities without a true home run threat in the backfield. 

    No one exemplifies home run threats more perfectly than De'Anthony Thomas. 

    He was one of college football's most explosive offensive weapons over the last few seasons and was responsible for making Oregon's offense the powerhouse it has become. 

    He boasts incredible speed, elusiveness and acceleration, and he has the versatility to play multiple positions in multiple formations. 

    However, there are some questions regarding his ability to adapt to the NFL style of play. 

    The 21-year-old lacks the size (5'9", 174 pounds) and strength to be an every-down back in the league. His route-running ability also needs improvement. 

    To make matters worse, Thomas has dealt with some serious durability issues over the last few years. 

    It's hard to argue that he isn't the most explosive player in the draft, but the red flags are there. 

    However, if the Oregon product falls to the late rounds, John Idzik and Co. should immediately pull the trigger, as Thomas could be the next Darren Sproles