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If Jets go wide receiver in first round of NFL Draft, plenty to choose from

Amari Cooper #9 of the Alabama Crimson Tide

Amari Cooper #9 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the All State Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Jan. 1, 2015 in New Orleans. Credit: Getty Images / Streeter Lecka

Jeremy Kerley already can envision the Jets' potential on offense.

Their trade for Brandon Marshall has reshaped the team's wide-receiving corps, bringing much-needed physicality and another pass-catching threat to their once-stagnant offense.

The Jets were starved for production in 2014, averaging only 17.7 points (28th in the league). But now the receiving room looks much different with Marshall, Kerley, Eric Decker and second-year tight end Jace Amaro.

"We just have weapons everywhere," Kerley said recently.

Compared with the uncertainty surrounding their quarterback position and pass rushing, the team's need for a young pass-catcher doesn't appear to be as pressing after the addition of Marshall. But as the saying goes, you never can have too much of a good thing.

During last week's predraft news conference, general manager Mike Maccagnan stressed the danger of making selections based primarily on need.

"I tend to believe a lot of mistakes are made in the draft when teams factor in need too much into the process, which correspondingly makes you skew your evaluation of a player," the first-time GM said. "There's no correlation to whether that player's going to be successful based on just our need."

That's why he prefers going with the best-player-available approach. And there are plenty of standouts in this year's receiving class.

Amari Cooper and Kevin White remain the top two on teams' draft boards. Cooper led the nation in receptions (124) and finished second in yards (1,727) and touchdown receptions (16) at Alabama last season.

While Cooper is viewed as a complete receiver who can change the complexion of the game downfield, White is an athletic freak. Pro Football Weekly draft expert Nolan Nawrocki wrote that the 6-3, 215-pound White is "built like Adonis." NFL teams are hot on the former West Virginia star because he's strong, physical and projected to be an immediate impact player.

Four other receivers have first-round grades, according to NFL Network's Mike Mayock: Louisville's DeVante Parker, Breshad Perriman of UCF, Oklahoma's Dorial Green-Beckham and USC's Nelson Agholor.

But don't expect this year's class of pass-catchers to be on par with last year's.

"I thought last year's [wide receiver group] was kind of exceptional," Maccagnan said. "I think this year is close. I think it's a good year for receivers.

"I do think it's one of those positions where there are a lot of really good receivers that play in the NFL that are not top picks in the draft. They are mid-to-late first-round picks, second round, literally any point in time in the draft."

That may be true, but the Jets can't afford to miss out on game-changing first-round talent, either. Last year, former Jets GM John Idzik stood pat with the 18th overall pick despite having 12 total. The Bills traded up to snag Sammy Watkins at No. 4, the Bucs took Mike Evans seventh and the Giants secured a generational talent in Odell Beckham Jr. at No. 12. Six spots later, the Jets drafted safety Calvin Pryor.

After taking Amaro in the second round, the Jets waited until the fourth round to draft a pair of wide receivers: 5-9, 165-pound Jalen Saunders (who no longer is on the team) and Shaq Evans, who spent the year on injured reserve. The Jets also drafted Quincy Enunwa, an eventual practice-squadder, in the sixth round.

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