Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
USC WR Marqise Lee (left) is a fit in the Jets' offense for his ability to create yards after the catch.
Team needs: WR, TE, DE/OLB, S, CB
For years, the Jets have failed to develop pass-catching talent, and it has left them with little choice but to invest a high pick in a wide receiver or tight end. If they want to stay put and take a receiver, Marqise Lee (USC) might be the best pick for them.
Lee has the nimble feet to run quick-hitting routes and can catch the ball on short routes and turn on his speed for long gains after the catch. There are concerns over some injuries throughout his college career and whether his slight frame (6'0", 192 pounds) can hold up at the NFL level, but his skill set is a perfect marriage for Marty Mornhinweg's West Coast offense.
The Jets could add a new two-tight end wrinkle to their offense by drafting Eric Ebron (UNC), who brings a similar skill set to Lee's as a pass-catcher, but at 6'4" and 250 pounds, he could be considered a matchup nightmare: too big to be covered by defensive backs, too quick to be covered by linebackers. He is not yet a refined in-line blocker, but he has room to grow in that role and showed some promise in limited opportunities.
One way or another, the Jets have to find skill-position talent on offense in this draft. They do not, however, have to do it in the first round.
In fact, one school of thought is to draft on defense early, since there is plenty of depth available at wide receiver. There are several good defensive end-outside linebacker hybrid prospects worth a first-round pick, including Anthony Barr (UCLA), DeMarcus Lawrence (Boise State) and Dee Ford (Auburn), so the Jets should have plenty of options in the first round if they want to add some speed and explosiveness to their pass rush.
The best option of those three would be Barr. As a former running back, he has the explosive first-step quickness to get into the backfield before an offensive lineman has the opportunity to react. At 6'5" and 255 pounds with 33.75" arms, he has exactly the frame the Jets like in their outside linebackers. He would be tested in coverage, but he has the athleticism to adapt in that role and could immediately contribute as a pass-rushing specialist.
If one of the top two cornerback prospects falls to them—either Justin Gilbert (Oklahoma State) or Darqueze Dennard (Michigan State)—don't be surprised if the Jets pull the trigger. Their top two corners have significant question marks: Dee Milliner after an up-and-down rookie season and Dimitri Patterson after an injury-plagued 2012-2013.