For the first time in a while, the Jets have a bit of depth and flexibility at the receiver position. They currently have 12 on the roster going into training camp; a number that we all should expect to be cut in half by August...not to mention the receiving threat that Jace Amaro already gives them in the passing game.
With that said, let's cut 5 of them right off the bat:
1. Michael Campbell: A camp regular for a few years now but just doesn't have the stuff for the NFL. The CFL would be a good place for this kid to refine his skills and get legit playing time.
2. Quincy Enunwa: Reportedly hasn't stood out thus far through mini camp and OTA's; and if you can't stand out in shorts, it's curtains for ya quince. Destined for the practice squad because he's still a fresh Idz-pick.
3. Clyde Gates: Get the hell off my team and let someone cool wear number 10. Seriously can't believe this guy's stuck around as long as he has.
4. Hakim Saalim: As much as I would like to see this kid get a chance to showcase his speed in space, there just isn't enough room (or time) for experiments at this point: bringing in Jacoby Ford and drafting Jalen Saunders made sure of that.
5. Greg Salas: Solid, reliable hands guy that doesn't do anything special. David Nelson is basically a bigger and better version of this guy which is why he won't stick. A good name to bring in if/when the injury bug bites.
Alright, now we're down to 7. This is where it gets tough. I really like what each of the remaining guys has to offer, so let's go from the top this time and hand out starting jobs to those who are sure to get them.
1. Eric Decker: 'nuff said.
2. Jeremy Kerley: Call him a number 2 or 3 or whatever you want, but Kerley will man the slot, plain and simple. I've been a huge Kerley fan ever since his days at TCU and I truly believe that if he's put in the right situation he can be one of the top slot receivers in the LEAGUE (the dude's got an arm too; I'd like to see a few trick plays designed for him this season.) Hence, I wasn't too happy when they drafted Saunders because that's a direct threat to his job down the line. The fact he's not an "Idzik" guy doesn't help either. Kerley needs to stick for the long-term.
3. David Nelson: Your quintessential "possession" guy. I really believe that Nelson isn't only one of the most underrated players on our team, but one of the most underrated receivers in the league. He doesn't do anything spectacular, but he's a big target at 6'5" and he doesn't drop anything. He's a calming veteran presence that brings blue-collar stability to the position and I feel that he's a nice target to line up opposite Decker.
So who's left? Jacoby Ford, Stephen Hill, Jalen Saunders and Shaq Evans. Out of all these guys, I like Saunders the LEAST, but he reportedly showed well during the offseason and it sounds like the coaches have him ticketed for a role in the return game. Personally, I'm not a fan of receivers that weigh under 170 (Saunders is wayy tiny at 5'9" 164) but I'll give the kid the benefit of the doubt and give him a spot on the roster. You don't usually cut 4th rounders right off the bat anyways.
Most Jets fans, including myself, are just about at wit's end with Stephen Hill. To think, we could have had Alshon Jeffery instead? You know, I don't even want to think about it. Well, lo and behold, he didn't drop a pass this offseason. That doesn't mean squat to me, but I think the coaching staff has been impressed with him this offseason and he says his knee is finally healthy. He's on his last stand, but he makes the team.
So it's down to Shaq Evans and Jacoby Ford. I must say, Idzik really pushed the competition button this offseason. I really like both of these guys. I've always been high on Jacoby Ford ever since his days at Clemson; when healthy he's one of the league's most dangerous players in open space. As for Evans, he seems like a high character, hard-working kid who has the perfect tools to develop into our number 2 of the future. However, he struggled with drops this offseason; and I know he came in late because of UCLA's quarter system and whatever, but if a ball's coming your way, you gotta catch it, whether you know Spider 2 Y Banana or not. I'm giving the edge to Ford and placing Evans on the practice squad for now, but I'm telling Evans to keep his phone nearby because he's getting that call soon to be ready for the 53-man roster on a Sunday in the not-so-distant future.
So there you have it; the Jets keep 6 receivers: Decker, Kerley, Nelson, Saunders, Hill and Ford. It's going to be an interesting story line come next month and one that should continue well into the season.