Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets Need Sammy Watkins

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.

Tags: New York Jets NFL Draft Sammy Watkins

  • Paul Newbold

    Trade up in the first round for a wide receiver? It’s a no brainer that the Jets are in need of wide receivers, but I highly doubt they’ll be trading up to get one. I agree this kid would be a great way to start the draft…but doubt that Idzik is going to give up two picks to fill one roster spot when the team has many needs. OL, WR, Safety, OL, CB to name a few.

    • Matt Naham

      Isn’t that what the Rams did? I’d consider trading up for him simply as a matter of personal preference. (Not quite sure what it’d take though.) This guy can really play and is a particularly good fit for the Jets IMHO. If we don’t want to trade up, however, there are other offensive options I’d be satisfied with, including Evans and Lee, possibly Ebron, and Clinton-Dix on defense. OL can be addressed later or through FA. Trading down is something I’d entertain if Watkins isn’t available.

      • Paul Newbold

        The offensive talent is there in this year’s draft, which is why I don’t see them doing it. One receiver, no matter how talented, is not going to fix this group. The Jets need to draft a viable TE and probably 2 receivers. The Jets have a ton of options in this year’s draft, an extra pick from the Revis deal, and compensatory picks to go along with their annual allotment. This year’s team is young and with an infusion of young receivers to grow with Geno Smith, they may truly be heading in the right direction. If Rex is kept around, the Clinton Dix pick becomes more likely, but it will be a hard sell to the fan base…they are screaming for offense!

        • Matt Naham

          Can you blame them? The thing that gives me pause is this: When was the last time the Jets hit a home run on a 1st round draft choice at the skill positions? I think it’s pushing it to put Santana Moss in that category, but he’s the best one of the last 12 years. Sanchez is out, Keller is out, Becht is out, Pennington was never elite. After Moss, you really have to go back to Keyshawn Johnson in 1996. I wouldn’t mind Clinton-Dix because there certainly is a glaring need at safety, but offense HAS TO BE the priority. If the Jets don’t draft skill players in the first three rounds I could lose my mind.

          • Paul Newbold

            I agree, the Jets need an infusion of offensive talent! With something like 12 picks in this year;s draft, they have multiple options. A lot will depend on what they have seen from Geno Smith, is he the quarterback going into next season. If he’s the man, and Rex is kept it might go something like this. Safety first round, receiver second, trade back into the 2nd round using their extra pick and a later rounder to grab another receiver, then they could use their third rounder to pick up a TE. They are in good shape going into the draft, and if they choose to drop some players like Cro, Holmes,Sanchez they could be a big player in free agency as well. It’ll be a fun draft to watch!