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WR-TE: Difference Makers Abound

Posted Apr 5, 2012

Newyorkjets.com's coverage of the 2012 draft includes breakdowns of each position group, the Jets' needs at the spot, and the top players expected to be selected at the position from April 26-28. Today's fourth in the series: Wide Receivers/Tight Ends.

The Jets entered the free agency/trading period with a void at No. 2 wide receiver and they may have filled that vacancy with the signing of Chaz Schilens. But you can pencil Schilens in on the depth chart because things could change on draft weekend.

While Oklahoma State standout Justin Blackmon has probably cemented his spot in the top seven or eight selections, Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd is making a push to be the top receiver selected overall.

Blackmon, who measured in just less than 6’1” at the NFL Combine, posted 4.4 times in the 40-yard dash at his pro day. He averaged 112 receptions, 1,460 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns the past two seasons. The 6’3”, 224-pound Floyd ran a 4.47 in Indy and caught 95 balls for 1,106 yards with eight TD catches last season. He had 13 100-yard receiving games at ND and his 28 TD receptions are a school record.

“Floyd really moved himself up the charts Tuesday, and again, his performance should at least have people putting him side-by-side with Blackmon; as I wrote, personally, I would rank Floyd higher,” NFL.com draft guru Gil Brandt wrote after Notre Dame’s pro day. “Floyd is a little faster and a little taller, and he’s been pretty productive in college. I think he should be taken with the 11th or 12th pick in the draft.”

Anyone who watched Baylor QB Robert Griffin III play last season knows he had a dynamic long-ball target on the outside in Kendall Wright. Clocked in the 4.4s at Baylor’s pro day, the 5’10”, 190-pound Wright can get on a defensive back in a hurry and then it’s usually lights out. He posted sensational numbers in 2011, grabbing 108 balls for 1,663 yards and 14 TDs and was named an All-America second teamer. The only question now is which NFL club will select Wright in the first round.

Top Tight Ends

The Jets have a productive pass catching tight end on the roster in Dustin Keller and another young, talented prospect in Jeff Cumberland who they hope can stay healthy and make a favorable impression on Tony Sparano. The Jets’ new OC likes multiple TE sets and a power running game, so you could see a move here at some point in the draft.

Stanford TE Coby Fleener probably locked up first-round status with a stunning sprint at his pro day. He measured in at 6’5”, 241 and then went out and recorded a sub-4.5 time in the 40. A Pac-12 first-team performer, Fleener averaged a gaudy 19.6 yards per reception and had 10 receiving TDs last year. He is also an adequate blocker and he lined up all over the field for the Cardinal, so versatility is a plus.

Jets head coach Rex Ryan got himself another admirer when he spoke to Clemson TE Dwayne Allen at the combine in February.

"When you meet him in person, you love this guy. He's great," Allen said. "I can definitely see how he gets his players to play for him."

Allen (6’3”, 255) set Clemson records last season with 50 catches, 598 yards and eight TDs. The yardage was the fifth-most in a season in ACC history for a tight end.

While Allen might get a look late in the opening round, Georgia TE Orson Charles shouldn’t be too far behind and will likely be a second- or third-round selection. A team captain who earned a spot on the SEC’s Academic Honor Roll during the fall, Charles was charged with driving under the influence in March. The 6’2”, 251-pounder, an early entry who had 45 receptions for 574 yards and five TDs last season, gives his all as a blocker and posted 35 reps of 225 pounds at the combine.

Second Wave of Wideouts

Georgia Tech WR Stephen Hill caught 49 passes in three seasons at Georgia Tech, but he has a prototypical size/speed combination. The 6’4”, 215-pounder, who played in a triple-option offense with the Yellow Jackets, posted the second-fastest 40 time at the combine with a 4.36. Hill has "big play" written all over him as he averaged a ridiculous 29.3 yards per reception in 2011 and 25.5 for his career.

Alshon Jeffery could be a steal if he slips to the second round. The 6’3” Jeffery played at a beefy 233 pounds last season, but he weighed in at 213 and ran a 4.5 at South Carolina’s pro day. After setting school records with 88 receptions and 1,517 yards in 2010, he had 49 catches and 762 receiving yards last year as the Gamecocks had instability at QB. Not a burner, Jeffery is long and he can pluck the rock out of the sky.

New Jersey product Mohamed Sanu played high school ball at South Brunswick HS before attending Rutgers. The 6’2”, 211-pound Sanu set a Big East career record with 215 receptions and collected 115 of those last season alone. He can line up outside or inside and will get downfield to block. He topped the century mark in receiving yards seven times last season, then ran well at Rutgers' pro day.

LSU’s Rueben Randle should come off the board in either the late stages of Round 1 or early in Round 2. The 6’3”, 208-pound Randle, who ran in the low 4.4s at LSU’s pro day, averaged 18.1 yards a catch and had eight touchdowns last season.

Depth on Display

If teams elect not to address receiver in the first couple of rounds, there should be good value in the third round and beyond. Nick Toon, son of Jets Ring of Honor inductee Al Toon, reportedly ran a 4.43 at Wisconsin’s pro day. After being limited to nine games in 2010, Toon appeared in 13 contests last season and totaled 64 receptions for 926 yards and 10 TDs.

“First and foremost you have to catch the ball. That’s your job as a receiver,” Toon said at the combine. “I feel I’m an above-average route runner. You have to be good blocker, a playmaker. There are a lot of things that go into being a successful receiver. Those are just a few of the things I think I do well, but I really do well with everything that’s required to be a receiver.”

Chris Givens can fly and the former track star had 163 career receptions for 2,473 yards and 21 TDs at Wake Forest. He led the Demon Deacons in all-purpose yards the past two seasons and the 5’11”, 198-pounder could become a solid slot performer on the next level.

Will Brian Quick be the next small-school receiver to star in the NFL? Blessed with great size (6’4”, 220), Quick set school marks at Appalachian State with 202 receptions, 3,418 yards and 31 TDs.

Ladarius Green might be more of a project than the other top TE prospects, but the Louisiana-Lafayette product has great size (6’6”, 238) and good production on the collegiate level with 149 catches and 21 touchdowns in 43 games.

Other Notables

WR Joe Adams, Arkansas; WR Greg Childs, Arkansas; WR Juron Criner, Arizona; TE Michael Egnew, Missouri; WR Dwight Jones, North Carolina; WR Marvin Jones, California; TE Deangelo Peterson, LSU.

Monday, March 26 — Defensive Line

Thursday, March 29 — Linebackers

Monday, April 2 — Defensive Backs

Preseason Live: New York Jets

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