We are nearing the end of our 2014 New York Jets roster preview. The rest of the links are right here in case you need to catch up. Today, we discuss arguably the most debated position on the team, wide receiver.
Who do you think is sticking on the roster and what kind of productivity will they have? Let us know in the comment section or over on Twitter…
Eric Decker #87 – 1,050 offensive snaps (for the Denver Broncos) – 87 receptions, 1,288 yards, 11 touchdowns
The biggest offseason signing the New York Jets made was adding Eric Decker, who will add immediate credibility to their wide receiver group. I don’t care if you want to categorize him with some subjective numeric label or not, Decker is a top 25 wide receiver in the league, with a terrific combination of size, speed and route running ability. The Jets will move him around the formation to create more favorable match-ups for him. He should lead all receivers in reps, targets, receiving yards, receptions and touchdowns. Is he going to match his productivity in Denver last season? It is highly unlikely. However, that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be right around 1,000 yards and that he can’t score 7-9 touchdowns.
Jeremy Kerley #11 – 567 offensive snaps (54%) – 43 receptions, 523 yards, 3 touchdowns
A consistently underrated NFL receiver, Kerley was badly missed last season when he was out with injuries. It would be surprising if Kerley wasn’t second behind Decker in the categories I listed above among the receivers (outside of touchdown receptions, where he could be lower). The improvement of weapons around him should only help freeing him up and allowing him more space to operate. Kerley does his best work in the slot but that doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of moving out wide in certain formations or personnel groups. He should be a candidate for a new contract for the Jets after this season.
David Nelson #86 – 569 offensive snaps (54%) – 36 receptions, 423 yards, 2 touchdowns
A savvy midseason addition who was basically functioning as the team’s lead receiver by week 16 and 17. Nelson developed immediate chemistry with Geno Smith and brought needed veteran toughness, route running and hands to the Jets receiver position. As of right now, he is easily the team’s third best overall receiver. Many forget that Nelson is only 27 years old, is 6 foot 5 and has a 60+ catch season under his belt. It would be a major surprise if he didn’t make the team and find a regular, weekly contributing role in the Jets offense.
Stephen Hill #84 – 594 offensive snaps (57%) – 24 receptions, 342 yards, 1 touchdown
Hill had a concerning regression in year two after a fairly disappointing rookie season. The measurables are all there but it is fair to question whether or not he can overcome his lack of natural ability to catch the football and run an entire NFL route tree. He will get his opportunities this summer and even as somebody who is low on his long term potential, particularly as anything but a role player, I still think he will make the team. Can Hill at least become a situational deep threat and begin to utilize his freakish combination of size and speed or will he never develop into a productive player here in New York?
Jalen Saunders #16 – Rookie
We discussed Saunders in-depth right here. Out of the three Jets rookie receivers, Saunders has the greatest chance to make an immediate impact and is the only one who is basically a 100% lock to make the 53 man roster. He should be the team’s primary punt returner and find himself in different personnel groups that will utilize him on screens and work to get him in space. His lack of size is always going to be a concern but he is a natural route runner and a playmaker. Marty Mornhinweg will find a way to get him involved.
Shaq Evans #81 – Rookie
An intriguing 4th rounder who doesn’t have the potential “wow” factor of Saunders or Enunwa but has the best chance to develop into a capable starting receiver one day. Evans should have a good chance of making the team thanks to his 4th round status and relatively pro-ready game. He could be the type of player who starts out being inactive most weeks but then eventually carves out a 10-15 play per game role by the end of the season before hopefully moving on to bigger things in year two.
Quincy Enunwa #82 – Rookie
We looked more into Enunwa’s game here. Out of the Jets rookie receivers he has the highest upside but the lowest ceiling. It wouldn’t surprise me if didn’t make the final 53 and was stashed on the practice squad or if he carved out a role as a redzone specialist in year one and developed down the road into a nice weapon for this offense. Enunwa has the ideal build for a receiver but has inconsistencies catching the football and needs to improve his footwork substantially. Regardless, with his athleticism, he will make a few head turning plays this summer.
Jacoby Ford #19 – 278 offensive snaps (for the Oakland Raiders) – 13 receptions, 99 yards, 11 kick returns, 253 yards, 9 punt returns, 77 yards
An OTA darling for many Jets fans, Ford will need to prove himself indispensable as the team’s kick returner to stick around. He has not done much of anything in the NFL since 2010 but has head turning speed. The selection of Saunders hurt his chance of making the team substantially.
Greg Salas #17 – 156 offensive snaps (15%) – 8 receptions, 143 yards
I don’t like writing people off before camp but it would take a handful of injuries for Salas to have a chance of sticking around.
Clyde Gates #19 – 133 offensive snaps (13%) – 12 receptions, 122 yards
See above and then multiply it by 100.
SCALDING HOT 2014 WIDE RECEIVER TAKE - Decker cracks 1,000 yards by a small margin but he does make it there. Kerley has a strong overall season and signs a new contract with the team in the offseason. Nelson, Saunders, Hill and Evans round out the 53 man roster heading into week one. Nelson finishes with more reps, targets and receptions than Hill. Saunders is the team’s primary punt returner and also sees some time at kick returner.