As the Jets’ season pulls into the hangar, Rex Ryan’s future with the team remains uncertain. What is certain is that the offense is in great need of explosiveness at the skill positions, and it has been for some time.
Many fans clamored for the services of Tavon Austin before the 2013 NFL draft; if the Rams didn’t swoop in and take him the slot before it’s probable that he would have been reunited with Geno Smith in green and white–at least that’s what Manish Mehta of the Daily News thought at the time. But it was not to be.
The current host playing at wide receiver needs to disappear and it starts by getting Sammy Watkins on the team. Say goodbye to Santonio Holmes, Clyde Gates, Greg Salas, and the likes of Saalim Hakim at reciever; say goodbye to Kellen Winslow at tight end.
We’re left with Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill (who will only get one more shot), David Nelson (who’s no given to stick with the team), and Jeff Cumberland. Thus, adding a legitimate threat like Watkins is imperative, not just for the Jets growth as a team, but for Geno Smith’s development as a quarterback. Watkins’ production in college is unquestionable and, although the junior hasn’t officially declared for the draft, he’s believed to be leaning heavily in that direction–which explains why ESPN’s Todd McShay has him going to the Jets in his first mock draft.
Watkins burst onto the scene at Clemson with 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns as a freshman. After a sophomore slump, he’s returned to his freshman ways this season with 1,237 yards, 10 touchdowns, and counting. Standing at 6’1 and 205 pounds Watkins projects, as a type, somewhere between Tavon Austin and Cordarrelle Patterson. Not as slight as Austin, not as tall as Patterson–but just as fast–Watkins stands out as an ideal replacement for Santonio Holmes. He can work in the slot and on the edge, but without the constant worries over attitude, health, and behavior. It should be mentioned that Watkins’ sophomore slump had something to do with being arrested for simple marijuana possession.
Since that time, however, he’s come back as strong as ever and his teammates have noticed.
If Watkins declares for the draft, the Jets need to take a long and hard look at him in the middle of the first round, assuming he falls that far. It’s conceivable, though, that Watkins tears up the combine in the 40 yard dash, among other drills, and finds his way into the top 10 conversation as a result. If that’s the case, the Jets will need to think even harder about trading up to get him.
The need for speed, youth, support for Geno, and excitement on the edge is that dire.