The NY Jets could use some better targets at wide receiver. As things stand now Stephen Hill will line up wide on one side. Either Clyde Gates or Braylon Edwards will likely line up wide on the opposite side, with Jeremy Kerley in the slot. Of those guys, only Kerley has shown he belongs anywhere near a starting NFL lineup in 2013. Hill has great measurables but can't catch a cold and is still very raw. Gates is hyper fast but probably even more raw than Hill, despite being 27 years old. He reportedly has had an excellent camp and has made some strides towards becoming something more than a one dimensional speed burner. However, at age 27 NFL receivers rarely make large jumps in abilities or performance, so the praise for Gates coming out of Jets camp is probably wisely tempered with a healthy dose of skepticism. Edwards is... well, Edwards. Injury prone and too slow by half, he just doesn't seem capable anymore of performing at a starting WR level. After watching the Jets first preseason game, the WR I was most impressed with was actually newly acquired Ben Obomanu. He looked smooth and precise in his routes, created separation, looked fast enough, if not a speed burner. He caught everything thrown his way. I was admittedly not familiar with him prior to last Friday, but from the little bit of him I saw in that game, I am intrigued. He looks like a legitimate NFL receiver. That is of course a bit of damning with faint praise, but with this underwhelming bunch at the position, it may be as good as we can expect right now. I'll have to see more of him against the opponents' first string defenders, but I'm not so sure Obomanu doesn't deserve to start opposite Hill.
Given this state of affairs, and assuming that Santonio Holmes will never return to his former level of play (a reasonable if not surefire guess), it might be wise for the Jets to cast an eye around the league for possible roster cuts who could play a big role with the Jets. Along those lines I suggest the Jets consider Carolina wide receiver David Gettis. Gettis may or may not become available when the last cuts are made. Coming into camp he was running with the 3rd and 4th stringers. Ahead of him on the depth chart and locks to stay that way are Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell. Also ahead of him but possibly not for long are Tedd Ginn Jr. and Dominik Hixon. That currently leaves Gettis, a 2010 6th round draft pick out of Baylor (where he was one of RG III's favorite targets) battling it out with 2010 3rd round pick Armanti Edwards and 2012 4th round pick Joe Adams, among others, for the 5th WR spot on the roster. Hixon has not been healthy, and that has left an opening for Gettis which he has taken full advantage of. He has been Carolina's leading receiver in each of the first 2 preseason games (Clowney Award anyone?), and seems to be making a push for the 3rd WR spot. If he succeeds in doing so, we can safely cross Gettis off the list of potential Jets acquisitions. But at this time that is far from a done deal.
So who is David Gettis? Braylon fans, you really ought to love him. Physically he is a Braylon clone, with nearly exactly the same 6' 3" height and 215 weight. Gettis is however faster than Braylon, running in the mid 4.4s for the 40 yard dash, and he has huge hands, at 10 inches. Gettis is a big, strong, fast target in the young Braylon mold, but he only turns 26 at the end of August, making Gettis 4 1/2 years younger, cheaper and with a whole lot more upside than Edwards. Like Edwards he comes with injury risk. Gettis was out all of 2011 with an ACL tear, and started the 2012 season on the PUP due to a hamstring injury. After making it back to the 53 man roster in mid November last year, Gettis spent the remainder of the year on the sidelines, inactive for most of the remaining games. Consequently Gettis does not have a single catch since 2010. So why should the Jets be interested?
Well, his performances in the first two preseaon games should dispel any notion that Gettis is still not healthy. He has caught 8 passes for 138 yards in the first two games, more than doubling any other Panthers' receiver's output. Still, just because he's healthy and somewhat of a physical specimen doesn't mean he can perform at a high level in the NFl, right? Well, yeah. For that evidence we have to go back to the 2010 season. In 2010, as a rookie 6th round draft pick, Gettis worked his way into the starting lineup with Carolina opposite Steve Smith by Week 2 of the season. He remained there the rest of the way, missing one game due to injury and ending up catching 37 passes for 507 yards and 3 TDs in 14 games for the year. Not so impressive you say? OK, fair enough. But consider that he was a rookie. For rookie WRs those are some pretty good numbers. The rookie receiver that comes into the NFL and dominates right away is a very rare commodity.
Still not impressed? Fair enough. Then consider this. That 2010 Panther team was one of the few teams in recent memory that made the 2012 NY Jets passing attack look potent. That Panthers team, featuring the likes of Jimmy Clausen, Matt Moore and Brian St. Pierre starting at QB, passed for a grand total of 2635 yards and 9 TDs for the year. This was an epically bad aerial attack, and it made all Carolina receivers look bad. One comparison stands out in particular. That year Steve Smith, 5 time Pro Bowl and 2 time All Pro wide receiver, 2 years removed from a 1400 yard season, played 14 games for the Panthers, just like Gettis. Smith's numbers: 46 catches out of 99 targets for 554 yards and 2 TDs. Gettis had nearly as many yards as Smith in the same number of games. Gettis caught a much higher % of balls thrown his way, 55% compared to 46%. Gettis caught more TDs, 3 to 2. Gettis had more 90 yard games, 2 to 0, and more 100 yard games, 1 to 0. And Gettis had a better yards per reception number, 13.7 compared to 12.0. It is not inaccurate to say Gettis performed like the best receiver on the Panthers in 2010.
Now, consider this. As soon as Smith got a real QB throwing him the ball again (Cam Newton) in 2011 and 2012, Smith returned to his Pro Bowl form, racking up nearly 1400 yards in 2011 and another nearly 1200 yards in 2012. It is perhaps fair to speculate, given how Gettis outperformed Smith in 2010 as a rookie, and given his likely improvement trajectory in his 2nd and 3rd years, that Gettis may well have achieved back to back 1000 yard seasons in 2011 and 2012 if his health had not failed him. It is an intriguing possibility, one well worth taking a flier on if Gettis should find himself on the unemployment line in a few weeks.
Of course, given his strong performances so far this preseason, albeit much of it against 3rd and 4th string players, it may well be that Gettis will make the Panthers. If he does, he still might be available for a rather small price. If he manages to secure the WR3 job, then he probably will be too expensive to acquire. However, if Hixon and/or Ginn relegate Gettis to the back end of the roster, given his injury history and the plethora of recent draft choices who are also options for the WR5 spot, the Panthers might be persuaded to give Gettis up for a low draft pick, say a 6th or 7th. If so, then I think the Jets should go out and make the deal. It's the kind of low risk, high potential reward, cheap, talented young guy with upside kind of deal Idzik loves. Gettis could obviate the need for Braylon Edwards, as he is a physical match, and is faster, younger and with substantially more upside. Best case scenario: we steal a perennial 1000 yard receiver who fell through the cracks due to early injuries. Worst case: we spend a low round draft pick on a WR who even at his worst is probably as good as any WR on the roster other than Kerley and a healthy Holmes. This is a move that could, if everything goes right, transform the Jets receiving corps from close to or at a league worst level to something more like NFL average. And if things don't go well, all we lose is at most a low round pick.
So what do you think? Should we make a move for this guy? I'll leave you with a link to a video showing Panthers receivers Brandon LaFell and Gettis. Gettis is highlighted in the second half of the video. Take a look, see for yourself, then let me know, should we go get Gettis?