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Jets Draft Preview | The Best of the Best at the Skill Positions

WRs, TEs Loaded with Talent, RB Not so Much but with Texas Tailback Bijan Robinson a Potential Top-10 Pick

FILE — Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (11) runs past Utah cornerback Kenzel Lawler (2) during the second half in the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game, Jan. 1, 2022, in Pasadena, Calif. Nine months later, the sting of losing to Michigan is still fresh for Ohio State. “It was sickening,” Ohio State receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba said of the 42-27 thumping Nov. 27 in Ann Arbor that ended an eight-game Buckeyes winning streak in the rivalry game. (AP Photo/John McCoy, File)

It's hard to predict whether the Jets will want to pluck a skill position offensive player high in the rapidly approaching NFL Draft.

At wide receiver, they have Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson back for his second pro season and have also repopulated the WR room with the signings of Allen Lazard and Mecole Hardman Jr. while trading Elijah Moore to Cleveland. But they were also reported to be ready to visit with Odell Beckham Jr. the day before he signed with the Ravens.

Their tight end depth chart is loaded with veterans Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah and '22 draft pick Jeremy Ruckert, but league rumors suggested at one time that they might consider adding 18th-year TE Marcedes Lewis.

RB also seems well-stocked with Breece Hall's anticipated return to action in time for the Jets' season opener after last year's ACL injury, along with third-year RB Michael Carter, second-year man Bam Knight and third-down back Ty Johnson, who re-signed for his fourth Jets season. Yet here again, the Jets were linked for a New York minute to former Cowboys featured back Ezekiel Elliott, until head coach Robert Saleh declared at the NFL Annual Meeting, "We love our running backs. I'll leave it at that."

Certainly, the Jets could add a player at any of the three skill positions later in the draft. If they're looking higher than day three to do that, here are some of the top names being mentioned by league analysts in the first two rounds on April 27-28.

WR Quentin Johnston (6-2, 208), TCU — Johnston, the two-time All-Big 12 first-teamer, has the length, speed and athleticism to succeed at the NFL level. His 11-2 broad jump was tied for fourth-best for the entire Combine, and while he didn't run the 40 in Indianapolis, he moved his 6-2¾ frame to 4.46-4.49 timings at his pro day. His vertical dimension is captured in his yards/catch averages from freshman to junior season: 22.1 on 22 catches to 19.2 on 33 to 17.8 on 60 last season. But one analyst notes that "his overall success rate on contested catches is way lower than it should be for a receiver of his size."

WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba (6-0, 196), Ohio State — The Buckeyes lately have been the good-hands people, producing Wilson and Chris Olave last season and now Smith-Njigba. There was nothing wrong with his 2021 season when he led OSU with 95 catches for 1,606 yards, but he's more possession receiver than top-end speed merchant, and injuries limited his '22 season to three games, five receptions and 43 yards. Yet he's tough over the middle, and his skillset has some projecting him as the best WR in this draft and a consensus of analysts saying he's a mid-first-round selection.

WR Zay Flowers (5-9, 182), Boston College — Xavien Flowers is a non-stop motor disguised as a highly productive and elusive (4.42 seconds in the 40) four-year slot receiver for the Eagles. His senior receiving numbers — 78 receptions, 1,077 yards, 12 touchdowns — were all career highs, he posted career numbers of 200 catches, 3,056 yards and 29 TDs (plus two more rushing), and he earned All-ACC first-team honors in '20 and '22. His smallish hands and size and drop issues with BC could slide him down toward the end of Round 1.

Other top-rated wide receivers: Southern Cal's Jordan Addison (5-11, 173), North Carolina's Josh Downs (5-9, 171)

See's Daniel Jeremiah's updated list of the top 50 prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft.

TE Michael Mayer (6-4, 240), Notre Dame — Lance Zierlein,'s draft analyst, says, "This is one of the most promising tight end classes I've seen in a while," and Mayer and Kincaid are at the head of that class. Mayer showed the mental and physical toolbox to be a strong run blocker for the Irish. He's not super-fast (4.70 in the 40) and is not a big YAC artist, but his averages for his three 12-game seasons at ND — 60 receptions, 700 yards, 11.7 yards/catch, 6 TDs — indicates he'll get what's needed to move the sticks in the passing game.

TE Dalton Kincaid (6-4, 242), Utah — Kincaid is a move TE, not as strong as a blocker but solid as a receiver, not surprising considering his high school basketball background. A transfer from San Diego, he was the Utes' leading receiver in his senior campaign with 70 catches for 890 yards (12.7 yards/catch) and 8 TDs. A back injury kept him sidelined for all drills at the Combine drills and Utah's pro day but he's been cleared physically and some team is likely to grab him in the lower third of Round 1.

Other top-rated tight ends: Georgia's Darnell Washington (6-6, 265), Iowa's Sam LaPorta (6-3, 245)

RB Bijan Robinson (6-0, 221), Texas — Robinson is the consensus top running back in the draft, on the cusp of being a top-10 pick. After soaring to three 2,000-yard rushing seasons at his Arizona high school, he built his game up in three Longhorns seasons to last year's outstanding collegiate finish — 258 carries, 1,580 yards, 6.1 yards/carry, 18 touchdowns, plus 19 catches for 314 yards and 2 more TDs. All those numbers earned him some impressive hardware, such as All-Big 12 and AP All-America first-team nods and the Doak Walker Award as the nation's top RB.

RB Jahmyr Gibbs (5-11, 200), Alabama — Gibbs is the best of the rest after Robinson in this subdued RB draft group. He put up good numbers at Georgia Tech in 2020-21, then even better metrics after transferring to 'Bama and becoming the Crimson Tide's top back (151 carries, 926 yards, 6.1 yards/carry, 7 TDs, plus 44 catches, 444 yards and 3 TDs receiving). He's probably more Mr. Outside than Mr. Inside for the team that takes him but shows quick feet and burst in both the wide running game and as a receiver out of the backfield.

Other top-rated running backs: Texas A&M's Devon Achane (5-8, 185), UCLA's Zach Charbonnet (6-1, 220)

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