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5 Late-Round Sleepers the New York Jets Should Target in the 2014 NFL Draft

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5 Late-Round Sleepers the New York Jets Should Target in the 2014 NFL Draft

New York Jets 2014 NFL Draft
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The New York Jets are a team looking to rebuild on the fly right now. They have some good, young talent on the roster, but if that talent doesn’t come together quickly, they will find themselves on the outside of the AFC East for years to come. One way they can keep from falling behind the competition is to mine some late-round sleepers in the draft this year.

New York thinks they have a future franchise quarterback in Geno Smith, and I think they just might be right. Smith showed signs last year that he had what it takes, he just never had the team around him to get the job done. Football is the ultimate team sport, and quarterbacks especially can be at the mercy of the weapons they have around them. Smith had basically none at his disposal last year.

This draft is one of the deepest in memory when it comes to wide receivers, which is a great thing for a team like the Jets that needs a complete overhaul of the position. They’re likely to use their first-round choice to take a receiver, but they need so many that they would really love to get a contributor at the position with one of their later picks.

The Jets are at a crossroads. They’ll either build around Smith these next few years and start to compete again, or they’re likely to completely bottom out. If they want to make a winner out of him, and the rest of the team, they need to target these late-round sleepers this year in the draft.

Ben Sullivan is an NFL writer for Follow him on Twitter @bensullivan52, "Like" him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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5. L'Damian Washington, WR, Missouri

L'Damian Washington 2014 NFL Draft
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Tall and fast, L'Damian Washington has the raw talent to be a big-play receiver in the NFL. His hands could use a little work, and his route running can use a lot of work, but he could be the deep threat that the Jets are searching for.

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4. Tyler Gaffney, RB, Stanford

Tyler Gaffney 2014 NFL Draft
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The Jets need to upgrade the running back position in the draft this year, and that is usually the one spot where you can always find sleepers. Tyler Gaffney is a guy who performed better than expected at the combine and has the chance to make an impact at the next level. A big, strong inside runner who scored 21 touchdowns last year for Stanford, Gaffney could step right in and be the kind of back that Rex Ryan likes to lean on.

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3. Jeremy Gallon, WR, Michigan

Jeremy Gallon 2014 NFL Draft
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Sleepers are lurking all over this draft at wide receiver. Jeremy Gallon is a guy who doesn't jump out at you on paper because he lacks the kind of size you want out of the position, but he has good hands and can run well after the catch. Gallon is more like a running back who plays wideout, but that is working more and more in the league today.

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2. De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon

De'Anthony Thomas 2014 NFL Draft
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The Jets need speed. Well, technically every team needs speed, but the Jets need speed more than most. De'Anthony Thomas is both fast and quick at the same time, and would immediately make New York more athletic on offense. Smith needs weapons, and Thomas is as dangerous with the ball in his hands as you can get.

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1. Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama

Kevin Norwood 2014 NFL Draft
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Sometimes production and reliability have to count for something, and that is what you're going to get from Kevin Norwood. A possession receiver with reliable hands, Norwood led the Alabama Crimson Tide in touchdown receptions last year, including a stretch of five-consecutive games with a score. He doesn't have the kind of explosive upside you typically look for out of a late-round sleeper, but the Jets need a proven, reliable winner and you get that from Norwood.