The Jets’ interest in adding a wide receiver has become widely known over the past few weeks since their attempt to land Tyreek Hill.
While there is still a chance the Jets can swing a trade for a proven wide receiver, their best chance to land a No. 1 receiver might come in the NFL draft, which begins April 28. There has been plenty of speculation about the Jets drafting a wide receiver with one of their first-round picks — either No. 4 or No. 10 overall.
While USC’s Drake London and Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson are the receivers most commonly considered to be the best in this draft class, the most intriguing receiver is Alabama’s Jameson Williams. He was on track to be the No. 1 receiver in this class before tearing the ACL in his left knee during the national title game in January.
Now, there is a question of how far he will fall in the first round. Could the Jets take Williams at No. 10? It would come with some risk. The Jets are a team that needs its first-round picks to contribute immediately. The team’s decision-makers may not want to wait until midseason when he is expected to be ready to play.
On the other hand, if they take the long view and feel Williams will be the best receiver in this class in a year or two, maybe Joe Douglas decides to look past the short-term loss this season. Williams is among the players who the Jets are bringing to Florham Park as one of their 30 players to visit before the draft, according to a source. So, they are clearly doing their homework on him.
The draft evaluators seem to have varying opinions about how much Williams’ injury should affect his draft position. Chris Simms, the former NFL quarterback and NBC analyst, ranked Williams as his No. 1 receiver in this class.
“Jameson Williams to me is the most slam dunk, easiest evaluation so far,” Simms said. “He’s Jerry Jeudy with another gear. He’s DeVonta Smith with a little more strength to his game. I look at Jameson Williams and just go, ‘You name it, he can do it.’ Arguably the best route runner in the draft, arguably the best yards after the catch in the draft, plays way stronger than his size would indicate, he breaks tackles. Slants over the middle, runs through arm tackles, stiff arms people to the ground, turns it back on and runs for 40 yards. His start-stop ability, it’s off the charts, good for double moves, it’s as good as anybody in the NFL.
“To me, this is a slam dunk, superstar receiver, but he has the ACL question and that puts a question mark on this thing.”
Williams only played one year at Alabama after transferring from Ohio State, where he was buried on the depth chart. The 6-foot-1, 179-pounder had a great 2021 season for the Crimson Tide, catching 79 passes for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns. The 21-year-old was a record-breaking track star in high school who has blazing speed.
The Jets need that element in their offense to help second-year quarterback Zach Wilson. The Jets have a solid receiving corps with Elijah Moore, Corey Davis and Braxton Berrios leading the way. Denzel Mims was supposed to be the team’s speed element, but the 2020 second-round pick did not win over the coaching staff last season. The need for speed led to the Jets’ failed pursuit of Hill and now could make them pick Williams.
“I think he’s going to go later because of the injury but I honestly think when it’s all said and done he has a really good chance to be the best receiver in this group,” ESPN analyst Todd McShay said. “But can you live with the fact that he may be out for the first four or five weeks of the season and you’re not exactly sure what you’re going to get with him in Year 1 as he’s gaining confidence and getting stronger with coming off the ACL injury in the national championship?”