New York Jets in the market for a big-time receiver, but there's a catch

Alabama receiver Jameson Williams might not be healthy until the second half of the season but could pay off long-term. AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:

1. A sip of Jameson? If the Jets don't make a blockbuster trade for Deebo Samuel or DK Metcalf before the NFL draft, they could be staring at the prospect of picking the second-best wide receiver from a good, but not great class. It's not an ideal situation, especially for a franchise that has struggled to draft quality receivers.

"None of these guys have the same grade as DeVonta Smith, Ja'Marr Chase or Jaylen Waddle," ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said of this year's receiver prospects. "Those three last year all had elite grades."

Garrett Wilson (Ohio State), Drake London (USC) and Jameson Williams (Alabama) are generally regarded as the top three. Wilson, Williams and Chris Olave (Ohio State), another first-round talent, have made pre-draft visits to the Jets, who have to be thinking receiver with their second pick in the first round (10th overall).

Wilson is "the closest" in talent to last year's trio, according to Kiper, who added that London (fractured ankle in October) and Williams (torn ACL in January) might have approached that status if they had stayed healthy. Wilson has been linked to the Atlanta Falcons (No. 8 overall).

As for the Jets' options, don't sleep on Williams, who displayed Tyreek Hill-like speed and big-play ability before his injury in the College Football Playoff National Championship. He'd be a gamble because he might not be healthy until November, but the long-term payoff could be huge. The Jets are interested, one source said. How interested remains to be seen.

"Even with the injury, he could go top 20, maybe top 10," Kiper said.

The Jets were unsuccessful in their attempt to trade for the actual Tyreek Hill, and they continue to monitor Samuel, Metcalf and other veteran receivers -- perhaps a sign they're not in love with the draft possibilities.

2. Post-Keyshawn drought: The Jets' track record for drafting receivers is poor. Maybe Elijah Moore, a 2021 second-round pick, can reverse the awful trend. Consider:

  • The last receiver to make the Pro Bowl in a Jets uniform was Keyshawn Johnson, selected No. 1 overall in 1996. He did it in 1998 and 1999.

  • The last one to record a 1,000-yard season for the Jets was Jerricho Cotchery, a 2004 draft pick who reached 1,000 in 2007.

  • Of the 24 receivers drafted since Johnson, only four have recorded multiple 100-yard games as Jets -- Cotchery (eight), Santana Moss (seven), Laveranues Coles (13) and Dedric Ward (four). We're not talking monster seasons, just games.

3. Positive report on Mims: That the Jets haven't added a veteran wide receiver is a little surprising. They re-signed Braxton Berrios, but lost Jamison Crowder in free agency, which means their current depth chart is thinner than last season.

Should we perceive this as a vote of confidence for Denzel Mims?

The Jets' coaches are getting good reports on Mims, who cut his body fat to 8% this offseason, but it's premature to group him with Berrios, Moore and Corey Davis as roster locks. They probably will add at least one more receiver, either a high draft pick or a veteran via trade. Even if that happens, Mims figures to get one last shot in training camp to prove himself to this coaching staff, which puts a premium on route running -- not one of his strengths.

4. Apple Sauce? Some mock drafts have the Jets taking cornerback Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner with the fourth pick. A couple of thoughts on that:

While cornerback is a premium position on the NFL landscape, it's viewed differently by coach Robert Saleh, who believes he can find system corners later in the draft for his zone-based scheme. He saw that philosophy work with the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.

The Jets addressed the position in free agency, signing D.J. Reed (three years, $33 million). To make another major investment, they would have to deem Gardner a unicorn-type player. In Saleh's world, a tie goes to the edge rusher.

5. Wilson's year-round coach: The Jets made an unorthodox move during the season, adding Zach Wilson's California-based quarterback instructor -- John Beck -- to the coaching staff. Basically, it was like hiring a personal tutor in the middle of an exam.

Beck, who has returned to private practice, continues to work with Wilson, a relationship that began several years ago. Beck senses a carryover from the season, which he believes will benefit the second-year quarterback.

"I watch tape with a lot of quarterbacks in the offseason, but I'm not on their team as they went through it, the way I was with Zach," Beck told ESPN. "I know what it was like leading up to the game. I was there every day of the week and I was with him on the sideline. I know what it was like the day after the game. I know the coaching points the coaches were making because I sat in the coaches’ meetings the day after the game. All of those things all have value in helping him."

Wilson will be in New Jersey for the next couple of months as the offseason ramps up, but he will get house calls from Beck, who is planning to fly east for occasional check-ins.

6. Back at it: The Jets begin their offseason program on Monday. The first practice is May 23, with the offseason concluding with minicamp (June 14-16). By rule, it's voluntary, except for the minicamp. This will be different from last year in that Saleh is planning to tone down the intensity, using more walk-throughs and 7-on-7 periods than before. This seems to be a leaguewide trend.

Around the NFL, it's also a chance to make extra money by collecting a workout bonus, but only one Jets player has a workout bonus in his contract -- defensive end John Franklin-Myers ($100,000).

7. No contract squabble: In case you're wondering, defensive tackle Quinnen Williams is expected to attend the start of the offseason program -- a positive sign. He's eligible for a new contract, but he's not going to pull a Jamal Adams by staying away and rattling cages.

The Jets have said they're open to discussing a new contract, but there's not much happening on that front. Williams is signed for 2022, and his fifth-year option (2023) will be exercised by May 2, the team has said.

8. Did you know? Barring a trade, the Jets (No. 4) and New York Giants (No. 5) will pick back-to-back in Round 1 for only the seventh time in the common-draft era (since 1967). This is only the second time the Jets have the honor of going first.

A look at the complete history:

9. Bookends: Pre-draft visits tend to get overblown in the media, but it's worth noting that Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan) and Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon), two of the top edge rushers, both visited the Jets on Friday. I've heard of cases where teams try to get the top guys in the same room, just to see how they respond to each other. Hutchinson won't be available with the fourth pick, but Thibodeaux could be.

10. Still available: Only three of the Jets' unrestricted free agents remain unsigned: wide receiver Keelan Cole, guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and tight end Tyler Kroft.