The much-anticipated countdown to draft day has finally sunk below the 100-hour barrier for the talent-hungry New York Jets. General manager John Idzik has been deliberate, to much of the dismay of Jets Nation, in re-assembling a 53-man roster capable of earning a playoff berth in the 2014 season. New York owns 12 draft picks in the 2014 NFL draft, enabling tremendous flexibility for Idzik and Co.
Realistic First-Round Options
Odell Beckham Jr. (WR), Louisiana State
Of the Jets' first-round targets at wideout, Beckham Jr. is the most intriguing prospect. After acquiring Eric Decker via free agency, the Jets immediately became in the market for a vertical speed threat (as if they weren't already). A tandem of Beckham's speed and Decker's size would force added pressure on opposing secondaries by disabling opponents' ability to mix and match personnel depending on situations.
Eric Ebron (TE), North Carolina
After a standout combine effort, it was a foregone conclusion that Ebron would be out of the Jets' reach by the time they took over the clock in the first round. While it remains a practical possibility for the Jets to miss out on Ebron simply because of draft positioning, it wouldn't be completely far-fetched for the UNC product to drop to No. 18 overall.
Brandin Cooks (WR), Oregon State
The Jets already possess a true slot receiver in Jeremy Kerley, but Cooks is worth taking a hard look at in the first round, specifically because if his big-play potential.
Unlike Kerley, Cooks boasts breakaway speed. He recorded an electric 4.33-second 40-yard dash time at the annual scouting combine, according to NFL.com. Cooks is an excellent route-runner who can slash through defenses. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg is more than capable of employing two slot receivers on offense.
Calvin Pryor (S), Louisville
Pryor would be an unpopular first-round pick for Jets fans, but he would increase the viability of their secondary's ability to prevent big plays and hold opposing receivers in-check. New York's first-round selection will grant insight as to how much input head coach Rex Ryan has over Idzik's decision.
Ryan made headlines earlier this offseason when Idzik opted not to offer Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie a competitive offer sheet.
Darqueze Dennard (CB), Michigan State:
The Jets remain in dire need of a cornerback in this year's draft. While it remains somewhat unlikely that New York would spend back-to-back first-round picks on cornerbacks, Dennard is likely their best option at the position if they opt to go that route.
Dennard is a true press-coverage corner capable of bottling up opposing receivers. He flaunts excellent footwork and sleek ball awareness. He's arguably the best cornerback available in this year's draft.
Marqise Lee (WR), Southern California
After finishing fourth in Heisman balloting in 2012, Lee appeared bound for a potential record-breaking season in his junior year upon deciding to return to school. The star-studded wideout witnessed his own draft stock dwindle as a result of horrific quarterback play and injury in his final collegiate season, though.
Lee recorded 57 catches for 791 yards and four touchdowns last season. If Beckham Jr. and Cooks fall off the board before the Jets take over the clock, Lee would likely become Idzik's most coveted wideout target.
Realistic Second-Round Options
Jace Amaro (TE), Texas Tech
The Jets' best pass-catching option at tight end might be Amaro, who registered top-performer status at the annual scouting combine, according to NFL.com. At 6'5'' and 257 pounds, Amaro is a big-bodied target who runs fluid routes and finds open space to reel in tough catches. Amaro racked up a ridiculous total of 1,352 receiving yards and seven touchdowns on 106 catches in his final collegiate season.
LeMarcus Joyner (S/CB), Florida State
The Jets are in dire need of a defensive back who can help prevent big plays. Joyner could potentially be that guy, despite being somewhat undersized at 5'8'' and 195 pounds. Joyner is a solid open-field tackler, registering 69 total tackles, including seven for loss, and 5.5 sacks in his senior season. He's a dynamic player who can play both cornerback and safety.
Joyner would enhance head coach Rex Ryan's exotic blitz scheme because of his ability to pressure ball-carriers off the edge.
Troy Niklas (TE), Notre Dame
Drafting a tight end in the second round seems to make the most sense for the Jets, considering the limited number of starting-caliber prospects at that position in this year's draft. Niklas is arguably the best run-blocking tight end available. He's also a solid pass-catcher. At 6'6'' and 270 pounds, Niklas would immediately increase the Jets' ability to come away with touchdowns in the red zone. He registered 32 catches for 498 yards, averaging 15.6 yards per reception, and five touchdowns in 2013.
Kelvin Benjamin (WR), Florida State
Benjamin is a big-bodied receiving target who can flat out make plays. At 6'5'' and 242 pounds, Benjamin would create a unique tandem with Decker on the Jets offense. Their size would wreak havoc on defenders' ability to play press-coverage.
Benjamin racked up 1,011 receiving yards and a whopping 15 touchdowns on 54 catches in 2013. He averages 18.7 yards per reception, signifying his ability to gain separation downfield and generate additional yardage after the catch.
Jeremiah Attaochu (DE/OLB), Georgia Tech
Although outside linebacker isn't a primary need for the Jets in this year's draft, it would be somewhat surprising if Ryan doesn't influence Idzik to draft an edge-rusher capable of solidifying the team's ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks.
The Jets' front seven is on the cusp of becoming one of the best units in the NFL. Adding a player like Attaochu to the mix would enhance that claim. At 6'3'' and 242 pounds, Attaochu possesses the build to play in Ryan's 3-4 base defense. He registered 16 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks in 2013.
Realistic Third-Round Options
Marcus Smith (DE/OLB), Louisville
Smith might be the most underrated edge-rusher in this year's draft. He's a versatile playmaker on defense who can play both defensive end and outside linebacker. Smith was a dominant force in his final collegiate season, fueling one of college football's best defenses. He recorded 42 total tackles, including 18.5 for loss, and 14.5 sacks. He also forced four fumbles and defended three passes. His explosive ability off the snap makes him an intriguing draft prospect who will likely excel in his rookie season.
Allen Robinson (WR), Penn State
While it's distinctly possible for Robinson to be taken in the second round, it wouldn't be stunning for him to drop into the third round. Robinson shredded Big Ten opponents for 1,432 receiving yards and six touchdowns on 97 catches in 2013. He was virtually unstoppable at times. At 6'3'' and 210 pounds, Robinson is a physical receiver who presents mismatch problems for undersized defensive backs. He doesn't boast electric speed burst ability, but has the potential to develop into a reliable No. 2 wideout in the NFL.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste (CB), Nebraska
The Jets' need for a physical press-corner is going to be addressed at some point during the draft. Their best option might be Jean-Baptiste, whose size and skill set makes him a perfect fit for Ryan's defense. At 6'3'' and 220 pounds, Jean-Baptiste is a strong defender who leverages his size against receivers in stride. He flaunts excellent ball awareness and reacts well in coverage. He recorded 12 passes defended and four interceptions in 2013.
Craig Loston (S), Louisiana State
The Jets' need for safety help has been well-documented throughout the offseason. While it seems probable for the team to address their decrepit situation at cornerback ahead of their safety dilemma, Loston is a realistic third-round option. The LSU product was mostly stellar in his second season as a starter in 2013, recording 57 total tackles, including four for loss, and a sack. He also picked-off three passes.