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Possibility at 17: Jeremy Maclin

As we head for the Draft, Gang Green Nation will take a look at some potential picks for the team. Today we will profile Jeremy Maclin, a wide receiver from the University of Missouri.

What NFL Draft Countdown thinks:

Strengths:
Outstanding athleticism...Is really smooth and fluid...Adequate height and bulk...Excellent speed...Great acceleration with a burst...Very quick and agile...Good hands and will make the difficult catch...Nice body control and ball skills...Good leaping ability...Elusive with great vision and instincts...A terror in space...Deep threat who will stretch the field vertically...Will work the middle of the field...Versatile and also an elite return man...Super productive...Still has a lot of potential.

Weaknesses:
Played in a spread offense...Not a polished route runner...Needs to get stronger...Will have some lapses in concentration...Won't break many tackles...Is not overly tough or physical...Gives good effort but isn't a great blocker...Durability is  a concern...Only two years of experience.

What SB Nation's Mocking the Draft thinks:

Strengths: If a team is looking for an explosive deep threat, Maclin is about as good of a bet as there is in this draft. He uses his speed and quickness to beat jams at the line and create separation. Can take it to the end zone on any possession. Incredible vision when he as the ball in his hands. Elusive and slippery. Maclin can stop and start to shake defenders and juke around them in the open field. Routinely catches the ball with his hands. Improved his hands from his freshman to sophomore season. Maclin also has some toughness to him, which a lot of people don't recognize. He'll go over the middle and doesn't mind blocking down on run plays.

Probably the best return man in this class. Will immediately contribute returning punts and kicks. Also a serious threat on gadget plays running the ball. In two years, Maclin had 91 rushes for 694 yards and six touchdowns.

Weaknesses: Quite raw as a route runner. Rounds off his cuts and isn't as quick out of them as he should be. Too often looks to run after the catch. Because of Missouri's offense, he didn't have to run a lot of NFL routes. Used mostly on quick slants and vertical routes. Can he run the comeback? Probably not the best red zone option. Played in a wide-open spread which increased his touches, especially considering he's probably the only NFL wide receiver on the offense. Although it seemingly didn't slow him at all, Maclin suffered a serious knee injury in 2006, which forced him to redshirt.

What I think:

Maclin is a similar player to Florida's Percy Harvin. He is not as versatile but is a bit faster, regardless of what 40 times say. Because of the stellar kick returners already on the roster, Maclin is not as valuable to the Jets as he would be to most other teams. Like Harvin, this is still a work in progress. He would serve as a vertical threat, which would force defenses to cover more of the field, opening things up underneath for other receivers. Maclin would also be dangerous on screens. It is not clear what else he could contribute right away. He is not very physical and could struggle to break jams or fight through defenders on shorter routes.  This could be a Ted Ginn situation, where the potential is there for a top flight receiver to emerge, but it will take a few years of development learning how to run NFL routes. If the Jets want a receiver whose only task is to use speed to stretch a defense, David Clowney is already on the roster. Would it really be wise to use a pick on a guy who has the same skill set and is just as unproven, regardless of upside?

Guys like Steve Smith and Santana Moss have made careers burning defenders deep with elite speed. Maclin has potential to develop into a similar player. His physical tools are intriguing, but this is a boom or bust player. It would be a major risk at 17 and one that might not help the team right off the bat even if it is successful long term.