In the days leading up to the NFL Scouting Combine, it was tough to find any mock draft experts who dared pick anyone other than North Carolina TE Eric Ebron or Southern Cal WR Marqise Lee for the Jets. Three hundred thirty-five Indy workouts later, Ebron and Lee remain slotted in the Jets' first-round position for many, but a plethora of other names have moved up (or down) the ladder toward No. 18.
The general consensus for wide receivers among analysts has placed Sammy Watkins (Clemson) in a league of his own followed by the next tier of mid-first-round talent with Mike Evans (Texas Tech) and Lee before getting to an abundance of others generally viewed as low-first- or second-round picks.
Since the combine, LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. has emerged as the leader of that next pack, and some would even argue that he's bridged any gap that may have existed between the bunches.
"Talk about a 'wow' factor," NFL.com's Matt Smith wrote. "Beckham looked great on tape and exceptional at the combine. He's got the perfect size/speed combo you want at the position." The 5'11", 198-pound junior ran a 4.43 40-yard dash.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller and CBS Sports' Dane Brugler also have the Jets selecting Beckham in their latest mock drafts.
Meanwhile, Ourlads.com predicts Evans will remain on the board for the Jets to take at 18, Will Brinson (CBS Sports) has Kelvin Benjamin, the 6'5" BCS national champion from Florida State, in green and white next year, and NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah sees the Jets going with speedy Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks. Among receivers at the combine, Cooks ran the fastest 20-yard shuttle (3.81 seconds), 40-yard dash (4.33) and 60-yard shuttle (10.72).
Although Ebron is considered the top tight end in this year's draft class by all accounts, Texas Tech's Jace Amaro could sneak his way into the first round as well, and in Bleacher Report writer Chris Roling’s opinion, all the way up to No. 18. As a 6'5", 265-pound junior, he compiled 106 receptions, 1,352 yards and seven touchdowns last year and ran a 4.74 40-yard dash at the combine.
"There is simply no reality in which the New York Jets take a defensive player here," Roling wrote. "[Geno] Smith needs a reliable option underneath to keep drives alive, but Amaro can also double as a deep threat on what figures to be a retooled passing attack next season."
Rotoworld.com's Evan Silva would disagree with Roling's assessment. In his inaugural mock draft, he's going with UCLA LB Anthony Barr for the Jets. Most experts view Barr as a top-ten talent among this year's crop and second-best at his position behind Buffalo's Khalil Mack.
"Barr is a long, explosive edge presence who needs technical work," Silva wrote, "making him an excellent fit for teach-first Jets coach Rex Ryan. Ryan has a lengthy history of maximizing player talents, and has lacked a difference-making outside rusher for most of his time in New York. With Barr opposite Quinton Coples and with Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison up front, the Jets could field a dynamic pass rush again, masking their numerous flaws in the secondary."
And then there's another UCLA product whom Jets fans should have on their radar: G Xavier Su'a-Filo. FOX Sports' Peter Schrager had the Jets taking this 6'4", 307-pound guard back in January, and he's sticking to his guns with his post-combine mock. Su'a-Filo had the third-fastest 20-yard-shuttle time among all linemen, defensive and offensive, at 4.44 seconds.
Pro days and free agency will surely shift these predictions in the upcoming weeks.