Previewing the New York Jets’ NFL draft approach at the wide receiver position
It is safe to expect the New York Jets to draft a wide receiver with the 10th overall pick of the 2022 NFL draft. This class is highlighted by a few big-time receiver prospects who would bring excitement to the Jets’ offense.
Currently, the Jets have two starters at the position in Elijah Moore and Corey Davis. Solid depth is in place with the re-signing of Braxton Berrios. Hopefully, Denzel Mims can add to it and bounce back this year.
Even with Moore, Davis, Berrios, Mims, and another receiver likely to come with a first-round pick, it is still possible the Jets look to select another wide receiver on the third day of the draft. In recent years, the position has had quality players picked on the final day of the draft. Once again, this class looks to have depth.
Let’s discuss some of the Jets’ options at the wide receiver position, starting at the top of the draft before moving to rounds four and five.
10th overall possibilities
The way things currently stand, there seem to be two premier wide receiver prospects who could become Jets with the 10th pick of the draft. Each player provides a different and unique skillset:
- Jameson Williams (Alabama)
- Drake London (USC)
Jameson Williams (Alabama)
Jameson Williams skyrocketed his draft stock as much as anyone in college football throughout the 2021 season. Williams is a fast receiver who can make a big play at any moment.
Last season, Williams was very productive for Alabama. He finished the year with 79 catches, 1,572 receiving yards (19.9 yards per catch), and 15 touchdowns. Williams has top-flight speed, good height (6-foot-1), plenty of length (32 1/8″ arms), and can gain yards after the catch.
Williams’s ability to win vertically is a component the Jets offense could benefit from as it would help open things up underneath. His pure deep threat presence would work well with the arm strength Zach Wilson has. He is a young prospect who turned 21 last month.
Drake London (USC)
Drake London had a dominant junior season for USC. London is a big and tall target (6-foot-3, 213 lbs) who can thrive in contested catch situations.
In 2021, London finished with 88 receptions for 1,084 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in eight games. Throughout his three years at USC, London played in 22 games and had 15 touchdowns. He uses his size to win in the red zone. After the catch, London uses his frame to break tackles. He also offers slot versatility.
London is the possession receiver that New York could use for Zach Wilson. He can beat press coverage with strong releases and he runs good routes for his size as well.
A very young prospect, London is still only 20 years old and will turn 21 in July.
Other top-flight wide receivers
It does not seem likely that the Jets will spend the 10th pick of the draft on either Ohio State receiver, Garrett Wilson or Chris Olave, two of the next top consensus players at the position.
However, if there is a consideration for Wilson or Olave, they bring talented skillsets.
Starting with Wilson (6-foot, 183 lbs), he is an explosive three-level receiving threat (4.38 40-yard). He has good quickness as a route runner and after the catch. Wilson has incredible body control adjusting to the football in the air and will reel in tough catches.
In Olave, an instant vertical dimension is added to the offense (4.39 40-yard). Each of the last three years, Olave had a long reception of at least 56 yards. His size (6-foot, 187 lbs) is very similar to his college teammate. Olave is a good route runner who also tracks the deep ball well down the field.
Ultimately, Williams and London seem more realistic than Wilson and Olave based on their strengths as players. In terms of speed, deep-threat ability, and potential, Williams is more valuable than Olave. Wilson has a skill set similar to what the Jets have in Elijah Moore. The contested catch and red zone ability London has would address a need for the Jets offensively.
There is a group of late-first to early-second round pass-catchers, although they seem unlikely to be acquired by the Jets with the 35th or 38th selection if the Jets use the 10th pick on a receiver. These players include Treylon Burks (Arkansas), Jahan Dotson (Penn State), George Pickens (Georgia), Christian Watson (North Dakota State), and Skyy Moore (Western Michigan).
The chances of the Jets drafting a second wide receiver in the third round (69th overall) would be slim if they take a receiver prior to that point.
A few wide receiver prospects likely to go in the third round include:
- Alec Pierce (Cincinnati)
- Jalen Tolbert (South Alabama)
- Wan’Dale Robinson (Kentucky)
- Calvin Austin (Memphis)
- John Metchie (Alabama)
If any of these players are available when the Jets pick in the fourth round (111th overall) they could strongly be in play.
Day three possibilities
As stated in the introduction, it is fair to expect a second wide receiver to be drafted by the Jets on the final day of the 2022 draft.
Here are some potential options, broken up into three groups based on attributes.
With the loss of Jamison Crowder, adding a man-beating slot receiver who can be relied upon on third down would be wise for the Jets.
Three viable options are Kyle Philips (UCLA), Khalil Shakir (Boise State), and Bo Melton (Rutgers).
Phillips and Shakir could be considered at picks 111 or 117. Philips runs great routes and is quick. Shakir is fast (4.43) and has a reputation for his strong character.
Melton will likely be valued more in the fifth round where the Jets have two selections (146 and 163). He has great speed (4.34), can run routes well, and offers gadget ability. Melton was a team captain at Rutgers.
Deep threat/speed receivers
If the Jets end up drafting Drake London, it would be ideal to add a speed element at wide receiver on day three. A few noteworthy receivers who fit that label are:
- Velus Jones (Tennessee)
- Danny Gray (SMU)
- Tyquan Thornton (Baylor)
- Jalen Nailor (Michigan State)
- Romeo Doubs (Nevada)
Incredible 40-yard dash times were recorded by Tyquan Thornton (4.28), Velus Jones (4.31), and Danny Gray (4.33).
Jalen Nailor recorded an impressive 19.8 yards per catch in 2020 and 18.8 in 2021. Romeo Doubs had 17.3 yards per catch in 2020, caught a pass for at least 57 yards in all four years of his college career, and collected 20 touchdowns over the last two seasons.
If Jameson Williams is the wide receiver the Jets select at 10, they could look for more size on day three. The few notable prospects who fit this bill are Justyn Ross (Clemson), Kevin Austin (Notre Dame), and Erik Ezukanma (Texas Tech).
If it were not for unfortunate injuries, Ross would be valued much earlier in the draft. Despite his injury concerns, the talent is worth adding on the final day of the draft. Ross has excellent size at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds. In his two full seasons played at Clemson (2018-19) he had 17 receiving touchdowns.
Austin provides good height at 6-foot-2 and has length with nearly 33-inch arms. He also ran an impressive 4.43 40-yard dash. Austin was productive for Notre Dame in 2021 with seven touchdowns and 18.5 yards per catch.
Ezukanma had 14 touchdowns over his last three years at Texas Tech. He averaged at least 14.7 yards per catch each season. He was even given 10 carries in 2021 (138 yards rushing, two touchdowns). His arm length is a plus at 33.5″. Ezukanma was a team captain for Texas Tech.
Final outlook for the Jets
Essentially every year now, there is a combination of great top-tier wide receiver talent in the draft along with quality depth later on. For the year two development of Zach Wilson, accumulating talent from the receiver position in this draft is a must for the Jets.
Selecting a first-round pass-catcher in Jameson Williams or Drake London to pair up with Elijah Moore for many years to come is an exciting possibility with a good chance of occurring.
On day three of the draft, adding a complementary skillset to the group for depth purposes would be smart to round out the unit.