I have to admit to being a little tired of looking at our receiving core and failing to get excited at all. There is a reason why we need to ensure that Geno Smith is asked to just manage a game and not win it, one is obviously because he is a rookie and needs time to really settle into his new role as an NFL starter, however the other is the supporting cast that he currently has to throw to.
Kerley is now injured and likely to miss a few weeks. Holmes has been injured the majority of the season and I have to imagine is on his way out this Summer. David Nelson to his credit has been a pleasant surprise but I wouldn't want to rely on him long term. Hill has made a little progress but really isn't getting targeted, and is often slowed down by injuries and lapses in concentration. You are then left with a stop-gap return man in Josh Cribbs, and a 4th round selection from 2011 in Greg Salas who is already on to his 4th team two years later.
If we want to help nurture Geno Smith, we need to get him some weapons, and that starts with the wide receivers. We may go out and spend money on a proven guy, I would 100% support that. However that doesn't mean we shouldn't look t draft a receiver early in the 2014 NFL draft. Here are just a handful of top end talents that have caught my eye so far this college football season.
1) Mike Evans, Texas A&M. 9 games, 52 receptions, 1147 yards, 12 touchdowns.
Evans for me is the best receiver in the country, hell he may be one of the best players in the country period. This guy draws a ton of attention every single week from defensive secondary's and he still manages to put up stunning numbers. I'll go into a lot more detail with Mike when the scouting reports start to appear after Christmas but he stands at 6'5, he is a competitor with great hands, good hand/eye coordination and the ability to get off press coverage with ease. Trust me when I say, this guy is going to be huge in the NFL.
2) Marqise Lee, USC. 7 games, 37 receptions, 502 yards, 2 touchdowns
I really have to feel sorry for Marqise Lee, this is a guy coming off two consecutive 1000 yards 10+ TD seasons (1721 yards, 14 scores in 2012) and he just been faced with numerous problems this season. He has had to miss a couple of games with injuries, and it seems as though injuries have been nagging him for a while. He has also had to face several QB problems with the Trojans. The drop off from Barkley last year to Cody Kessler this year is a big one and his numbers have taken a dive. He's still an intelligent route runner who gets separation and makes every catch. Don't let the 2013 stats eclipse what he did in 2011 and 2012.
3) Sammy Watkins, Clemson. 9 games, 66 receptions, 982 yards, 7 touchdowns
Six of the nine games that Watkins has played this year have resulted in him going for over 100 yards. He is a big play guy with top end speed and the ability to make things happen every single time he has the ball in his hands. He is basically a player the Jets haven't had for some time. He doesn't have the route tree down yet, and he doesn't have the hands of Evans or the intelligence in terms of route running of Lee, but he is dangerous and he is exciting and defensive coordinators have to make sure they know where he is every single time he is on the field. I want big play potential for Geno and Wakins offers that!
Here are just a few others to keep your eyes on, and we will be featuring them early next year.
Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt - 66 receptions, 890 yards, 5 touchdowns
Brandin Cooks, Oregon State - 91 receptions, 1344 yards, 14 touchdowns
Chandler Jones, San Jose State - 47 receptions, 877 yards, 10 touchdowns
Allen Robinson, Penn State - 66 receptions, 1043 yards, 6 touchdowns