OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 25: Jeremy Kerley #11 of the New York Jets returns a punt past Stanford Routt #26 of the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum on September 25, 2011 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Next, in my potential breakout series, is Jeremy Kerley. After his 1st year with the Jets, Kerley is looking like quite the steal for us. It's not often that a 5th round pick comes in and contributes right away like Jeremy. Out of all the young talent I will be mentioning in this series, I think Kerley has the most potential on the offensive side. Come read more after the jump...When the relationship between the Jets and Jerricho Cotchery soured, it left a bitter taste with all Jets fans. We all looked at Cotchery as the mold for a player that "plays like a Jet." He left everything on the field, and never said a word. We loved him for it, and thank him for every second he was with us. Once he was gone, we looked to the front office to give us hope at the position. They gave us Derrick Mason. The Mason pickup seemed like a decent move at the time, but we all know how that ended.
With Mason out of the picture, the hero of our story entered stage left. Kerley stands at a whopping 5'9". He is by no means a dominating force to look at, but as the NFL keeps reminding us, even a small man can cast a large shadow. At pick 153, in the 5th round, the Jets must have had a notion what this kid could bring to the table. All indications are pointing to him doing exactly what we drafted him for, and more.
In a season where training camp was a mess, and our team was in emotional shambles, Kerley shined. It seemed like Jeremy immediately built an on-field relationship with Sanchez. The transition from college to the pros was seamless. Through hard work, and dedication, he also picked up the offense at lightning speed. By the time Mason was gone, Kerley came in and looked like a seasoned veteran. His role was immediately layed out for him. He was going to be our 3rd down warrior. In seasons past, Sanchez's safety net was Keller. A lot of times, Mark found himself forcing it to Dustin. It also didn't help that Keller had a tendency to not make the big plays when needed. Now that Kerley is around, Mark has a safety net that can hold onto the ball, and get more separation.
Kerly is not limited to only contributing as a WR. Jeremy has the versatility to make an impact in a few places. One such role is as a Wild Cat back. When handed the rock, Kerley AVGed 5.6 YDS per carry. He also looked really good when asked to pass. You might remember his 41 yard pass to Mulligan. One other area I think Kerley can excel at, is punt returner. This is probably the only think Jeremy showed a bit of a learning curve at. I think with a year under his belt, and an upcoming training camp, he will retake the starting punt returner job.
2012 predictions: 670 Receiving Yards, 3 Receiving TDs, 85 Rushing Yards, 1 Rushing TD, 50 Yards Passing, and 1 Return for a TD