When’s the last time the Jets took a wide receiver in the first round? That was a question I was recently asked on Twitter. I slowly went through all the picks I could remember until I landed back in 2001 and one of my favourite Jets of all time, Santana Moss.
The Jets have made 21 first-round selections since Santana was selected 16th overall out of the University of Miami.
In fact, the Jets have only ever taken 4 first-round out and out receivers in their history (Moss, Keyshawn Johnson, Al Toon and Jonny “Lam” Jones), It could be argued that Jerome Barkum was also a receiver, although he was a hybrid WR/TE so for the sake of this argument, I’m not counting him.
That’s a real void of first-round talent at a key position in a passing league, especially over the last 10-15 years. So will that change this off-season?
We don’t know who will be under center come opening day, and we don’t know who the Jets will target in Free Agency, but we do know that the Jets will need to improve at receiver.
Denzel Mims looks promising, but his rookie season was interrupted by niggling injuries. Crowder is the Jets most reliable receiver but there are questions around whether the Jets will bring him back, considering they can save over $10 million by cutting him before June 1st. I think that would be a bad decision considering how many holes we have on this roster, and we should concentrate on plugging those before looking to upgrade good players to great players, which comes with its own risk.
The good news for the Jets? This is as deep a receiver class as I can remember, with as many as 6 receivers potentially having first-round grades on them.
Who the Jets could target will depend on what they decide to do at the QB position, this will likely directly impact that #2 overall selection. Either that pick will be used for a QB like Wilson or Fields, it will be used to trade for a QB like Watson, or it will be used to trade down in the draft. And it’s the 3rd option which is of interest here, I simply can’t believe that the Jets will stay at #2 and select a player that doesn’t play QB, it wouldn’t make sense.
If the Jets decide to move down a handful of selections in the draft, that opens up the possibility of taking one of the top three receivers in the class. Ja’Marr Chase of LSU is my #1, followed by Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle of Alamaba. All three could be gone in the first 10-15 selections.
If the Jets do take a first-round QB or use the #2 overall pick to get Watson, then the 2nd tier of receivers come into play with the #23 overall pick in the draft, the beauty of having multiple selections.
Rondale Moore of Purdue and Rashod Bateman of Minnesota will come into the equation at #23, as will the speedy Kadarius Toney of Florida and potentially Terrance Marshall JR of LSU and Elijah Moore of Mississippi who are both slated to go bottom of the first, top-10 picks of the 2nd.
It’s been a long time since the Jets invested first-round draft capital in the wide receiver position, 20 years in fact. With it being a position of need and there being plenty of talent available, you have to believe if they’re going to break that streak, it may well be this year.