By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer
The Jets offense was anemic last year, plain and simple. One way to remedy that is to infuse the roster with young and in particular explosive play-makers. The available skill position prospects aren’t overly impressive, but that means the Jets, who most predict a DE/OLB pass rusher in round one (me included), won’t be missing out on a sure fire All-Pro WR or RB. You’d think at some point the Jets should add some speed to the offense so this list could come into play for Gang Green.
Here are some candidates that fit the mold of explosive offensive threats. Let me know if I missed anyone and the Top 6 will be revealed soon.
7. Robert Woods USC (WR) 6’1 190
The preseason #1 WR prospect by many (not me) has seen his stock fall some. Woods still has decent size, solid hands and is a polished and technically sound route runner. His *4.47 speed didn’t go anywhere either and while his 846 yards was disappointing he did catch 76 balls for 11 TD. Woods might now be undervalued and should get a shot at a starting job with the versatility to work out of the slot or as an X receiver out wide.
8. Kenjon Barner OREGON (RB) 5’11 195
It’s tough enough to catch a back with Barner’s 4.39 speed but his 5’8 frame makes it almost impossible for defenders to see him as he comes blazing through the line. With 1,767 yards rushing (6.4 average) he showed he can handle the increased workload that came his way after LaMichael James left campus. He will need to prove he can stay durable based on his lack of mass, but he reminds me a lot of Darren Sproles and might not contribute at that level, but should be a similar third down threat with the ability to turn it outside and catch screen passes out of the backfield.
9. Johnathan Franklin UCLA (RB) 5’11 195
His straight-line speed (4.50) doesn’t do him justice. Franklin was a big play machine and became the Bruins all time leading rusher with his ability to go from zero to sixty in seconds and explode through small creases in the defense. He proved to be productive with 1,734 yards with 13 TD and a healthy 6.1 average including a long of 78 yards. He added 33 catches and if he can clean up his ball security could be part of a dynamic two headed rushing attack at the next level.
10. Chris Thompson FSU (RB) 5’8 187
After suffering a season ending injury the Seminole speedster went from a rising prospect to injury prone afterthought. That doesn’t mean he lost all that speed (7.5 yards/carry), however, and with a blazing 4.42 40 time a team willing to take a late round flier could be rewarded with a undersized but dangerous Darren Sproles or LaMichael James type athlete.
11. Quinton Patton LA TECH (WR) 6’2 195
Patton is a proven play-maker without the elite speed (4.52) you’d expect. That doesn’t stop him from gashing defenses whether from the slot, out wide or on returns. He totaled 1,392 receiving yards and averaged an incredible 13.4 yards/reception. Patton is sneaky quick and finds ways to get open downfield.
12. Corey Fuller VIRGINIA TECH (WR) 6’2 196
Fuller is one of those prospects with the measurables (6’2 196) and raw talent (4.43) that allows people to ponder “what if he puts it all together?” While his 43 grabs for 815 yards isn’t nothing, it certainly won’t get scouts attention like his athletic tools will. A former track star new to football will get the benefit of the doubt in hopes a pro training camp will refine his skills enough to contribute.
13. Onterio McCalebb AUBURN (RB) 5’11 173
McCalebb is fast, very fast. He can get going up field in a hurry and change direction lightening quick. The reason a guy who runs a 4.36 isn’t higher on the list is his impact is severely limited by his bulk, or lack thereof. He weighed in much lower than his listed 173 lb and that could scare off a lot of teams. He tipped the scales at a Senior Bowl low of 164 lb. Nonetheless he’ll probably make a team and even get some game touches in the return game or creative offensive sets.
14. Joseph Randle OK ST. (RB) 6’0 200
Randle, in addition to being an all-around and complete back, he has the blend of vision, speed and cutting ability to make big plays. His 4.50 speed isn’t elite, but more than enough to breakaway from the defense. The way he changes direction is truly impressive and is so smooth he seems to glide. If you can’t tell I’m a big fan and had to include him on this list based on his production and athletic talent.
15. Giovani Bernard NORTH CAROLINA (RB) 5’10 205
I’ve said it before I’m shocked by the elite status most are giving to Gio, but it’s hard to ignore his production. He rushed for 1,228 yards with a terrific 6.7 yards/carry and 12 TD. He runs with a low center of gravity and at 205 lb is big enough to sustain hits and keep his legs moving. I like his patience, balance and vision as well as his receiving ability. He averaged 10.4 yards/catch with 5 receiving TD. However, I fail to see the explosion or speed everyone cites and the fact that nfldraftscout.com lists his 40 time at 4.57 confirms my suspicion.
16. Ace Sanders SOUTH CAROLINA (WR) 5’8 175
Not even on the 2013 Draft radar to begin the year Sanders used his quicks and stop and start ability to total a modest 802 yards (439 receiving, 363 on returns), but provided many game changing plays. He may not have a defined position or blazing speed (4.50) but is crafty and athletic enough to make it work.
17. DJ Harper BOISE ST (RB) 5’9 205
Talented enough to beat out breakout Bucs rookie Doug Martin in the Broncos backfield a few years ago prior to an injury, Harper has an NFL body at 5’9 205 yet runs a 4.48 40. It’s hard to tell if it’s his instincts or lack of short area acceleration is holding him back, but 1,137 yards (5.0 average) and the aforementioned physical tools could mean he has a chance to blossom into something special.