In what has been an injury filled training camp for not only the New York Jets, but the entire NFL, the wide receiver competition is beginning to take shape. A select few will make noise in the first preseason game, good or bad and the depth chart will solidify itself in the coming weeks. Let’s take a look at how things are currently shaping up –
1) Stephen HillHill is almost in a competition with himself for the number one receiver spot. Santonio Holmes will most likely not be ready for week 1, so we’ll keep him out of the power rankings for now. Hill’s size and speed make him a great candidate to be a number 1 target and he’s had a solid camp. His route running is certainly improved as he’s been deadly with a double move on deep routes. If he can show consistency catching the ball, he’ll receive a ton of targets. The impressive chemistry he’s displayed with Geno Smith is also a huge factor that has gone largely unnoticed.
2) Jeremy Kerley
Yes, Kerley is known as a “slot receiver.” What many are failing to realize is he had success lining up out wide last season, showing versatility. On top of being the most targeted player on the offense, he brings value as a punt returner as well. Unlike last year, Rex Ryan has praised Kerley calling it his best camp. If the Jets get mediocre to decent quarterback play this season, a lot more NFL fans will know who Jeremy Kerley is.
3) Clyde GatesGates was labeled as a bust after Miami drafted him in the 3rd round a few years ago and failed to develop him. His speed is elite but he has shown poor route running and inconsistent hands. Well, Clyde might finally be taking that next step as he’s had an impressive training camp. He’s beaten corners on double moves for the deep ball and also on short routes. He’s had minimal drops and his speed is more apparent than ever. Many criticize Gates for failing to produce last season, but if you watch the tape he was open early and often but was rarely targeted. With a full offseason with the Jets and training camp, expect Gates to have a nice role as a third or fourth receiver in passing packages.
4) Ryan Spadola
Before you crucify me for having the UDFA from Lehigh over Braylon Edwards, I make these power rankings based on training camp performances. Edwards has been limited in training camp, giving Spadola an opportunity to showcase his talent. The undrafted receiver has nice size standing at 6’2 and has flashed arguably the best hands throughout the summer. He’s climbed his way from a camp body to getting looks with the first team offense. If he can show separation in the preseason, this kid will be out there at times with the starters when September rolls around. On a side note, many are wondering why Spadola wasn’t drafted and here’s a fun fact: he missed a few games last season due to mononucleosis.
5) Braylon EdwardsAs I previously mentioned, Edwards has been limited and does not practice every day. He’s had a few drops here and there, but overall he’s been rock solid. I’m not putting all my eggs in one basket when it comes to Clyde Gates and Ryan Spadola, two unprovens. Having a guy like Edwards on the roster brings a veteran presence who can step in as the number two target out wide. The Jets know what they have in Braylon, no need to wear him out in preseason/training camp.
6) Ben Obomanu
Obomanu hasn’t had what you would call a stand out career and that has translated to his time with the Jets. He’s on the bubble when discussing the final 53 man roster. Where he can contribute is special teams, a place he has contributed in the past. The real question for Rex and the front office will be whether to retain Obomanu, the veteran, or take a shot on a young guy that they can develop.
7) Joseph Collins
Collins is the sixth wide out listed on the latest Jets depth chart but take that with a grain of salt. He’s made a few plays in camp but hasn’t seen time with the first team offense much like Spadola and doesn’t offer much on special teams like Obomanu. He’ll need a big time preseason to make this team.
8) Zach Rogers
The former Tennessee target garnered a lot of hype in the offseason but hasn’t produced a whole lot in training camp. His hands are consistent but does he possess the speed to beat NFL coverage? Preseason will certainly show what Rogers has got.
9) Titus Ryan
Ryan was making plays in camp all over the place but a recent injury has unfortunately set him back.
10) Michael Campbell
Campbell was in camp last year as a UDFA and didn’t bring much to the table. He had a big time drop in the preseason and for whatever reason the Jets are giving him another shot this year.
11) K.J. Stroud
Stroud wasn’t an overly productive guy in college at small school Bethune-Cookman and that has translated in his first NFL training camp.
Marcus Davis – IR
Vidal Hazelton – Torn ACL after having an impressive two weeks of practice