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Five Potential First-Round Scenarios for New York Jets in 2014 NFL Draft

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Five Potential First-Round Scenarios for New York Jets in 2014 NFL Draft

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The New York Jets have a lot to accomplish in the 2014 NFL Draft. They had a surprisingly successful 8-8 season and have some solid talent spread out across their roster. However, they still have key needs at wide receiver, tight end, right guard, outside linebacker, cornerback and free safety. Obviously the Jets will use free agency to fill some of those holes, but there is no doubt that they need to land immediate starters in the draft.

The highest priority for the Jets will of course be wide receiver, as they have arguably the weakest receiving corps in the NFL. There are three receivers considered first-round locks, and the Jets will be closely studying Sammy Watkins, Marqise Lee and Mike Evans. The Jets would be very happy to land any of those three players, but there is no guarantee they will be available at No. 18.

Most believe that the Jets have a playoff caliber defense, but they have to improve their offense to match that level. The Jets need to come away from the first round with an immediate impact player, preferably one who can make Geno Smith’s life much easier in his second season.

Speaking of Smith, many people have discussed the likelihood of the Jets taking a quarterback in the first round. This seems unlikely, not because the Jets are completely sold on Smith, but because Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles are all likely to be gone by the time the Minnesota Vikings pick at No. 8, if not sooner.

This is a draft that will be crucial to the development of this team over the next two or three years, and that just adds to the pressure on John Idzik and Rex Ryan. The Jets must have a successful draft, and these are five potential first-round scenarios that they will be preparing for.

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5. Draft A Defensive Back

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The Jets have taken a defensive player with each of their last five first round picks, and if all the top receivers are gone they could look to do it again. The Jets’ defense is solid, but it definitely has some holes and Ryan can never get enough defensive players.

Safeties Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor and cornerbacks Justin Gilbert and Darqueze Dennard are the names to watch right now, as the secondary is definitely the Jets’ biggest defensive weakness. Any of those players would be an upgrade, but they are not the Jets’ first choice.

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4. Trade Down After Missing Out on Top Receivers

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The reason the Jets would take a defensive player is because they missed out on the top receivers, but in that scenario I believe they’d be more likely to trade down. Because the Jets have so many holes it would be nice to add more draft picks, and there are a host of second tier options at receiver the Jets could be interested in.

Devante Adams, Jordan Matthews, Kelvin Benjamin, and Allen Robinson are just a few of a large group of receivers that will come off the board between the late first and early third round, and the Jets will be looking at all of them. If the Jets can’t get a top prospect, moving back and taking a player like Matthews, whom the Jets are rumored to be high on, is the next best option.

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3. Trade Up for Sammy Watkins

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Watkins has emerged as the clear top receiver prospect in this draft. He has size, speed and hands, and he was extremely productive in college. In my opinion, Watkins is the best receiver prospect since A.J. Green and Julio Jones, and I believe he is a future Pro Bowler.

Of course, such high evaluations means that Watkins will likely be gone before the Jets pick. However, most of the teams in the top ten need help at some combination of quarterback, offensive line and pass rusher, and they could deem those needs more important than receiver. If Watkins starts to slip, the Jets could be motivated to make a big trade for a true star wide receiver.

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2. Draft Eric Ebron

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When discussing the Jets’ concerns at wide receiver, their need at tight end is often overlooked. The Jets have just as many problems there as at receiver, and adding a top tight end would be equally as important to improving their 31st ranked passing offense.

Ebron is the total package at tight end, and he could become a game changer at the next level. Smith loves throwing to the tight end, so getting him a good one would make a big difference for the young quarterback. There are several other teams interested in Ebron early in the first, but don’t be surprised if the Jets pick him over one of the receivers, and they would happily take him if the top three wideouts were gone at No. 18.

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1. Draft Either Marqise Lee or Mike Evans

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This has been and remains the most likely scenario, as well as the one the Jets want. Lee and Evans are very different players, but each would immediately become the best receiver the Jets have. The Jets have not had a true No. 1 receiver for a long time, and they need that type of talent on their roster.

I believe Lee would be a better choice because his precise route running, quickness and excellent hands make him a perfect fit for the West Coast offense. He also will have a shorter learning curve, which benefits both Smith’s development and the Jets’ playoff hopes. However, Evans has a higher ceiling and some spectacular film, and he could be a star. The Jets would be thrilled to land either of these players, and in the end I believe they will.

Greg Sulik is a New York Jets writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @GregSulik or add him to your network on Google