New York Jets – So….About The Wide Receiver Position?

Joe Caporoso on the New York Jets current issues at the wide receiver position

The New York Jets may have a wide receiver problem. You can make an argument they have the weakest group in the NFL. This isn’t an ideal situation when you have a shaky veteran and a rookie battling for the starting quarterback job. Let’s run through the receivers currently on the depth chart and give a realistic assessment of what the team currently has.

Santonio Holmes – The vetearan of the group and the team’s most talented overall receiver. Unfortunately, Holmes is still recovering from serious Lisfranc surgery and hasn’t even been able to run yet. It remains possible he could start the season on the PUP list, further watering down an already weak positional group.

Best Case – He is ready to play in week 1 and gives the Jets a solid 65-75 reception, 750-900 yard season.

Worst Case – PUP List. Misses the first six games of the season and is never able to get his feet under him as an impact player on offense.

Jeremy Kerley – The only sure thing right now in the Jets receiving group. Kerley led the team in receptions and receiving yards last season and showed that he can be more than just a slot receiver. It is likely the Jets will lean on him heavily again this year, particularly early in the season while Holmes works his way back and Stephen Hill continues to develop.

Best Case – Puts up similar numbers to last season (56 receptions, 827 yards) but increases his touchdown total (only 2 last year) and remains a reliable, go-to option each week in the passing game.

Worst Case – Regresses after a breakout 2nd year by having inconsistencies catching the football and being unable to handle more defensive attention on him.

Stephen Hill – A great unknown. Hill has immense physical potential but struggled as a rookie to catch the football and run routes. He is also dealing with lingering knee issues. The Jets badly need him to play to the level of a 2nd round talent and become a deep threat on offense.

Best Case – Stretches the defense with his speed, providing desperately needed big plays to the offense while also becoming a more reliable underneath receiver. By the middle of the season, is a competent 40-50 rep per game guy.

Worst Case – Continues to struggle with drops and staying healthy. Appears to be on his way to joining Vlad Ducasse and Kellen Clemens as recent Jets 2nd round busts.

Clyde Gates – Currently the de facto #4 guy, which is horrifying. Gates is a borderline NFL player who has great straight ahead speed and not much else.

Best Case – Improves his route running and ability to catch, becoming a serviceable role player and deep threat.

Worst Case – More of this.

Ben Obomanu – A veteran who had some decent moments in Seattle but is probably best served as a role player and special teamer. The Jets stretched a similar player, Chaz Schilens, too thin last year and may be forced to do the same with Obomanu.

Best Case – An improved version of 2012 Chaz Schilens on the Jets.

Worst Case – A worse version of 2012 Chaz Schilens on the Jets.

Jordan White – We were high on White’s potential last year and still think he deserved more of a chance down the stretch. In college, he demonstrated good route running ability and a knowledge of how to find a soft spot in zone defenses, both needed traits in the Jets new offense. However, without a strong training camp White could find himself unemployed.

Best Case – Becomes a weapon as a slot receiver and is able to step up if there are injuries in front of him.

Worst Case – Doesn’t make the team.

Zach Rogers – An intriguing undrafted free agent, who stood out during OTAs and mini-camp. The Jets are an ideal place for a UDFA at receiver and Rogers played and produced at the highest levels of college football. Keep an eye on him.

Best Case – Becomes an impact player as a rookie, slowly working himself into more and more playing time as the season progresses.

Worst Case – Doesn’t make the team.

Ryan Spadola – Another intriguing undrafted free agent who made an early impression. Spadola played at a smaller school (#LehighUp…I see you Patriot League) but has a nice skill-set that could be translatable to the NFL. It will be fun to watch him, Rogers and Marcus Davis compete for a roster spot.

Best Case – Makes the team and carves out a role for himself on offense by year’s end.

Worst Case – Doesn’t make team.

Marcus Davis – A UDFA with a nice combination of size and speed. Davis is built like a true split end, so if Stephen Hill struggles in camp or can’t stay healthy, the Jets may give extra consideration to keeping him around.

Best Case – Becomes a deep threat on offense, helping pick up the slack from the players in front of him on the depth chart.

Worst Case – Doesn’t make team.

The Jets also have Vidal Hazleton, Joseph Collins, Thomas Mayo, KJ Stroud and Ryan Titus on the roster but I could see them quickly being knocked off in favor of a veteran who becomes available during camp.

Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the VP of Social Media at Whistle Sports

  • Circles26

    These are more like good/bad, rather than best/worst. Best case for Hill is he becomes the next megatron. Worst case is he tears his achillies and never plays again.

  • KAsh

    I could see Holmes having a 1000 yards season as a best – dream – case scenario. Who else would the QB throw to other than Kerley and a healthy Holmes? Worst case should really highlight him never returning to form after this injury.

    But these are scenarios are all based on what we already know and can predict from the evidence. Anyone can tear their ACL next season and never come back, but “can” and “will” are two different matters. Just because a kid can get hurt playing outside, do you lock him in the house?

    I would really love to see Rogers, Spadola, White, or Davis come out. This team needs some good news on the receiver front. Hopefully, only Obomanu or Gates stays and newer guys are given a chance.

  • __fense

    Worst case is he becomes the next megatron during the preseason, then right before week one it comes out that he killed at least 3 people.

  • __fense

    And I don’t get why you guys insist on forcing Vlad being a bust. He played better than Slauson last year.

  • Joe Caporoso

    If you think Vlad is anything but a bust after his first three years, considering how high he was selected in the 2nd round…you are badly overrating him. He has logged zero starts and the team added 4 (!) Guards this off-season via the draft and free agency, meaning he is going another year without starting before likely being cut.

  • -fense are you joking? What did Vlad show you last year? Tell me about a pancake block he had or when he pulled and knocked the d.end out of the play. Oh that’s right never happened. Slauson played well enough for a contract in Chicago and he not signed with them he would have been back in green and white. While I agree he wasn’t an all pro his he was still light years ahead your boy the big ugly. And Joey C. said it best we went out and got 4 guards in the off season. Enough said.

  • twoshady

    I still think they should sign Braylon Edwards to a one year deal for some much needed help at WR. Obviously Idzik has some issue with him, but the guy wants to play for the Jets so much they could probably get him for a cheeseburger and a Red Bull.

  • Anthony

    Seriously Joe? What position did we not go out and add a bunch of players?

    We brought on extra kickers AND punters.

    4 guards were brought in, but we lost 2 anyway. Every position on offense and defense was added to for competition. Sheldon Richardson was not and indictment against Mo Wilkerson or Q; but you continue to read Dee Milliner as evidence the Jets hate Kyle Wilson.

    That said, the WR problem is not a concern. The plan is to ground and pound, and let the receivers work themselves out. We have a crappy QB situation, so why invest waste investment capital on a crappy foundation.

  • Joe Caporoso

    I never remember saying anything about Dee Milliner and Kyle Wilson in this article. The Jets took Milliner because he was the highest rated player on their board at #9, same thing with Richardson at #13. But yes, you will likely see Milliner start over Wilson because Wilson just isn’t very good. The tape doesn’t lie.

    Bringing in an extra kicker/punter is standard practice to rest legs in camp. Folk/Malone will have those roles this year barring injury.

    You want to say the Jets only drafted Winters and Campbell because they were the highest rated at their point of the draft, fine but then why sign Colon before the draft AND Peterman after the draft. There is no need for that if you have faith Ducasse can step in start.

    I continue to be confused by Jets fans irrationally sticking up for Ducasse and to a lesser extent Wilson. Ducasse has been a CLEAR bust to this point. Wilson at best, has been an average corner. Don’t overrate your own talent, it is what got Mike Tannenbaum fired.

  • Anthony

    I’m not sticking up for vlad, I’m pointing out that EVERY position not nailed down by an all pro level player, saw competition added. Peterman and colon were brought in because they provide a baseline for competition.

    Why is it so hard for you to understand that the reason for bringing in 4 offensive lineman at the guard spot is to find out who the best players are and to play them.

    I don’t know if vlad is better than peterman, or better than winters, but because the Jets don’t either, they will be competing for a job.

    The team lost two guards and added four, and if you consider Caleb Slaughterhoff a potential cut and William Campbell a practice team stash, its likely they all make the team.

  • KAsh

    @Anthony – what position did the Jets not get a bunch of players at to promote competition? You do realize that you are commenting on an article about a position that is virtually unchanged from last year. If, contrary to what Rex said, you would want your son to be protected by Ducasse, you could have drafted some receivers in the third round.

    Ducasse is already having an awful offseason. He got taken off guard duty and he is now the second-string right tackle, meaning he is behind Aboushi, the second-string left tackle, in the pecking order.

  • matr dontelli iii

    the only things worse than ducasse’s offseasons are his regular seasons.

  • Anthony

    Fair point, they didn’t “fix” the receivers. Probably because our QB is crap and putting new rims on a crappy car leaves you with a crappy car.

    Also, FA receivers are a nice way to waste offseason money. Receivers are a product of the system they are in and the QB that throws them the ball (which ties into my first point)

    Again, I’m not defending vlad. Dude might suck. But the larger point is, they brought in competition (almost) everywhere.

  • KAsh

    @Anthony – You keep talking about ground and pound, but why then fire Sparano, the ground and pound OC? Why get Mornhinweg, a quarterback-centered, pass-happy OC who has never run anything but a WCO? We actually have a new QB – his name is Geno Smith; you might have heard of him – and your receiver situation is torpedoing his chances of getting the starting nod. And, just when do you get receivers if you first need a good QB, but you need an established corps of receivers if you want to allow your QB some success, thereby determining whether he is good?

  • All I can say is the Vlad draft pick is the second worst by the Jets in the past 10 years, and so far Wilson would be my pick for number 5 worst draft pick in past 10 years. Wilson may be serviceable as nickel back at best. And Vlad well, at least he has that modeling carer he can fall back on.

  • Geronimo

    I like to think that Idzik has been scrutinizing the roster as much as any of us, and the optimist in me holds that he might see something in Hill and Gates that we do not.

    If Idzik feels these players progressed, then he might be making the decision to get them as many meaningful reps as he can. A player like Edwards would bump both these guys down.

    WR is a position where you can find a decent guy late in camp, as teams cut down. That is just because teams carry so many of them. Some team, somewhere, will choose youth over experience, and a decent player will become available.

    Idzik has done alright, by my book. I have to assume his plan is to give Hill the best opportunity he can to become a dependable player.