This is the fifth in a series of features on the 2016 NFL Draft, position by position. Today's positions: Wide Receivers/Tight Ends. The Jets' WR/TE roster synopsis is followed by five players considered top candidates at WR plus two top candidates at tight end.
Does the Jets wide receiver position need help in the draft? Well, never say never, but with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker back to lead the unit, you're in good hands.
Their outstanding play produced awesome numbers as well. For Marshall there were the franchise season marks for receptions (109), yardage (1,502), 100-yard games (10), and a tie for TD catches (14). Decker? He set the team record with 10 red zone TD grabs. Marshall/Decker together: The NFL record for most games, teammates catching TD passes in the same game (9). All WRs together: Most TD catches in a season in franchise history (29).
Quincy Enunwa, Devin Smith and Kenbrell Thompkins also contributed key receptions and are back to increase their impact on the offense. Also on the roster, Jeremy Ross, Chandler Worthy and Joe Anderson have NFL game experience and Titus Davis had two short stays on the Jets' practice squad last season. Chris Owusu remains an unrestricted free agent.
Tight end, which provided blocking but little receiving in 2015 (25 targets, nine catches, 153 yards, one TD), has gotten a makeover. Kellen Davis returns, but Jeff Cumberland, after six seasons in green, left for San Diego. Two players who sat out all year with injuries — 2014 second-rounder Jace Amaro and productive special-teamer Zach Sudfeld — are back in uniform. Wes Saxton, who got in for 12 plays on offense against Miami in London last season, also returns, and two TEs with pro experience, Brandon Bostick and Adrien Robinson, are also on the roster.
Top Five Wide Receivers in the Draft
LAQUON TREADWELL, MISSISSIPPI
Treadwell (6'2", 221) is the consensus top wideout in next Thursday's draft, averaging a spot in the middle of the first round. Not surprising since he led the SEC in receiving as a true junior last year with a Rebels-record 1,153 yards (on 82 catches, 11 for touchdowns) to receive all-conference and All-America honors. In his three college seasons he amassed 202 receptions, another Ole Miss record. And two other skills that are attractive to the pros: He's been described as one of the best blocking receivers in the country, and for teams with Wildcat packages, he was 3-for-3 for 134 yards and a TD as a passer.
COREY COLEMAN, BAYLOR
Some of the maturity of Coleman (5'11", 194) can be attributed to last year's Jets rookie QB, Bryce Petty, who conspired with Coleman to produce a 15-catch, 224-yard game for Coleman against Oklahoma in '14. "With Corey, he's so passionate that he wants it now," Petty said then. "You just have to sit him down and tell him this will set it up." Coleman set himself up without Petty last year — 76 receptions for a Big 12-leading 1,363 yards and an FBS-tops 20 TD catches. The redshirt junior is expected to go in the high 20s Thursday night.
JOSH DOCTSON, TCU
Only three times has a TCU receiver racked up 1,000 yards in a season. Doctson did it twice, in 2014 (65 catches, 1,018 yards, 11 TDs) and last year (school-record 79 catches, 1,337 yards, 14 TDs) as he set Horned Frogs career records with 2,785 yards and 29 TDs. Not bad for starting his college career at Wyoming and finishing it with a wrist injury that shortened his redshirt senior season to 11 games. At 6'2", 202, his frame will need some NFL weightroom work, but he excelled at the Combine with a 41.0" vertical, tied for best among WRs, plus strong showings in the broad jump and shuttles.
WILL FULLER, NOTRE DAME
Fuller (6'0", 186) was a two-year starter and two-year 1,000-yard receiver for the Fighting Irish, and in fact was named the Irish team MVP after last year's true junior campaign with 62 catches for 1,258 yards (20.3 yards/catch) and 14 TDs. The gaudy per-catch average is the result of flying speed and "elite acceleration" — his 4.32-second 40 was the best among WRs and second-best among all participants at this year's NFL Combine. His frame isn't ideal, nor are his hands, yet his speed and skills will make some team happy at the end of the first round or the start of the second.
MICHAEL THOMAS, OHIO STATE
As Dane Brugler notes on CBSSports.com, WR Devin Smith was the first Ohio State player taken in last year's draft, by the Jets at No. 37 overall, but Thomas (6'3:, 212) was the best WR on the Buckeyes' 2014 national championship team. Not surprising since he's the nephew of another Jet, 1996 No. 1 overall selection Keyshawn Johnson. Thomas' numbers his last two seasons at OSU weren't eye-popping (54 receptions, 799 yards, 9 TDs as a redshirt sophomore, 56-781-9 last year) and he doesn't have blinding speed (4.57 40). But he does have some strength and the best size among this year's top WRs.
Top Two Tight Ends in the Draft
HUNTER HENRY, ARKANSAS
Henry (6'5", 250) is the big name in this draft's depressed tight end class. He was the star TE in the Razorbacks' multiple-TE offense, advancing from top Arkansas high school recruit to starting as a true freshman to the Mackey award as the nation's top tight end last year (51 receptions, 739 yards, 14.5 yards/catch, 3 TDs, no drops) and junior-eligible entry into the draft. He's been described as a "high-effort" blocker but not not always "reliable" and "grabby" by some analysts. But NFL.com's Lance Zierlein has no reservations in saying Henry "should come in and become a very good NFL starter."
AUSTIN HOOPER, STANFORD
Hooper (6'4", 254) has fine TE size and his two-year numbers for the Cardinal (74 catches, 937 yards, 12.7 yards/catch, 8 TDs) weren't bad. He doesn't have great speed (4.72 seconds in the Combine 40) and he is young (redshirt sophomore). But he comes from an athletic family (dad played football at San Diego State, one uncle played fullback at Stanford, another played pro tennis, and his kid brother plays baseball at UCLA).