Plenty of options at wide receiver for Jets at No. 18 in NFL Draft
Marty Mornhinweg could feel it.
The Jets offensive coordinator saw flashes of promise in his young players last season, and he believed improvement was on the horizon for them.
True, the skill-position players -- particularly the wide receivers -- didn't look like anything special on paper. But the team finished on a high note, winning three of its final four games with a rookie quarterback in Geno Smith.
Then the Jets upgraded the offense during free agency by signing receiver Eric Decker, running back Chris Johnson, quarterback Michael Vick, offensive lineman Breno Giacomini and receiver/kick returner Jacoby Ford. And general manager John Idzik isn't finished upgrading his receiver corps.
The Jets have the 18th overall pick in Thursday's draft. And even though NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock predicts Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans will be the first receivers off the board and might not be available, there are plenty of options for the Jets (even if they don't trade up).
"I think there's a chance six wideouts go in the first round," Mayock said during a recent conference call. "After Watkins and Evans, the next two are going to be wideouts people would say wouldn't go so early: Odell Beckham from LSU and Brandin Cooks from Oregon State."
ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. had the Jets picking Cooks in a recent mock draft.
"He's an exceptional athlete, both quick and fast, with the ability to eat up space, then run past defenders and also outmaneuver them underneath," Mayock said on a conference call. "That makes him precisely the kind of matchup the Jets need to add to the passing game."
USC's Marqise Lee also has garnered a lot of attention from teams. "He's got an exciting skill set. I could bet on that kind of guy," Mayock said.
By the end of the weekend, the Jets will have a firm idea what their offense will look like in 2014. But Mornhinweg already is encouraged by the foundation they've set in free agency.
"I've got great excitement," he said. "Last year, I thought was quite possibly the start of something special . . . Now, there were many things that we were not good enough at, and we've got to get better. Some of these [free-agent] players will help us do that. I'm really excited to get these guys on the field here in the offseason and get rolling."