By Luke Ewing @Twitter.com/LukeJEwing on April 13, 2014
If the Jets' front office wants to avoid facing an angry mob of New Yorkers with pitchforks, they're going to have to choose between a pass-catcher or a cornerback in the first round of this year's draft. Here are five options the New York Jets have at No. 18 overall.
Darqueze Dennard was one of the best shutdown corners in college football last year and will certainly be among the first defensive backs taken in the 2014 draft. He has the size, speed and strength in press-man coverage that the Jets covet, is NFL ready and would be able to start opposite Dee Milliner next year. The Jets have a glaring need at CB, and if Dennard falls to the Jets at No. 18, he'd be tough to pass up.
It's hard to argue with production. WR Brandin Cooks had 120 catches for 1,670 yards and 15 TDs in 2013. Cooks' play and skill set has also drawn numerous comparisons to WVU product Tavon Austin, whom the Jets coveted in last year's draft. QB Geno Smith had great success with Austin at WVU, and bringing in a player in his mold would make a great deal of sense for Gang Green. That's if he's still available.
Eric Ebron vs. Jace Amaro, who ya got? If the Jets look to add a playmaker at TE in the first round, I think Amaro has the edge. Either would be an upgrade over Jeff Cumberland and add an immediate boost to the offense, but Amaro is the better player at this point with stats to prove it that dwarf Ebron's numbers last year. There's value at WR in the second and third round, and the Jets might choose to address the offense with a TE at No. 18.
Widely considered to be the best corner in this year's draft, Justin Gilbert gets the edge over Darqueze Dennard because of his tough physical play, high end speed (4.37 40, tops among DBs) and his playmaking abilities and nose for the end zone (seven picks in 2013, two for TDs). Gilbert is a great choice for the CB-hungry Jets, but it's hard to imagine a scenario in which he drops out of the top ten and falls to them at No. 18.
All things considered -- talent pool, draft position, team need -- I think Odell Beckham Jr. is the odds on favorite for the Jets at 18. New York needs a CB badly, but even with Eric Decker, they still have Stephen Hill projected to start in Week 1. They're not giving up on the disappointing Hill just yet, but I don't believe they will accept this scenario again in 2014. Look for the Jets to snag a WR at 18 with Beckham being the best available.
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