Randall Cobb gained 1,324 yards from scrimmage this season. He is 24 years old. He is going to be an unrestricted free agent. That is quite a combination. Would the 2011 second round pick from Kentucky be a good fit in New York?
Cobb is not a traditional outside receiver. He's only 5'10" and 192 pounds. He's a slot guy and a very productive one at that. He caught 75 balls for 1,067 yards, and 12 touchdowns from the slot alone in 2014. He was injured for much of 2013, but in 2012 he caught 63 passes for 835 yards, and 6 touchdowns. One could make a case that Cobb has become the most productive slot receiver in football.
It's easy to dismiss production for somebody like Cobb as a product of Aaron Rodgers and the Packers system, but he helps make the system run. Players put up numbers in Green Bay because they get open. Aaron Rodgers scans the entire field and throws it to the guy he sees is open. Another quarterback might not be able to see a guy like Cobb open and deliver an accurate ball as frequently. That doesn't make Cobb any less skilled.
Here's what Jordy Nelson has to say about Cobb's route running.
"Randall can not only make people miss in his route running and with his releases at the top of routes, he can really use his feet and create that separation so quick," said Nelson. "It's probably because he's short (Nelson laughs), but that's something I wish I could steal from him."I
That quickness doesn't just serve him out of the slot. It makes him dangerous in space. While Cobb did run almost 85% of his routes from the slot, the Packers still try to develop creative ways to utilize him. They aren't afraid to line him up in the backfield to get him the ball in space or perhaps create a mismatch. Maybe the defense makes a mistake with Cobb acting as a back and sticks a linebacker on him. Cobb can motion out of the backfield, and create a real problem. You can also hand the ball off to him.
After a quiet rookie year, Cobb's production has been terrific. In 2012, he had 1,086 yards from scrimmage in 15 games. In 2013, he had 511 total yards in 6 games followed by the 1,324 in 16 games in 2014. Again it is worth noting that he is 24 and will be 25 on Week 1. There's a real possibility he can grow.
I think of Cobb as a better Percy Harvin. He's more productive. He makes more big plays. I think it comes down to the route running. While Cobb is not the greatest in this area, he provides enough ability to not need almost all of his touches to come near the line of scrimmage. Over one-third of Cobb's 2014 receptions came 10 yards or more down the field.
Should the Jets pursue Cobb? It depends on the price. Cobb is indicating he's looking for a deal around $9 million per year. I'm not sure I can get there. This doesn't have anything to do with Jeremy Kerley. I'm not afraid of reducing Kerley's role. Cobb is a lot better than Kerley. He would be a big upgrade. I'm just not sure Cobb is the type who can be THE GUY in an offense. I think he's more a complementary part who makes you pay for that. Looking at the $9 million or more receivers, you have players who are among the best in the league at position (Calvin Johnson), those who were at the time they got their contract (Brandon Marshall, Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald), and a whole lot of guys who make you say something like, "Really? He's making that much? That's an awful contract!" (Greg Jennings, Dwayne Bowe, Mike Wallace, and Harvin). There are a few that don't seem like bargains but aren't horrendous overpays like Jordy Nelson and Vincent Jackson. Still, I don't feel like Cobb has the impact a Calvin Johnson has or a Fitzgerald, Marshall, or Andre Johnson used to have. He seems more in line with the guys who got way overpaid. Those guys aren't bad players. They just make way too much.
I can get there if Cobb's $9 million demands prove elusive, and he gets more into the $7-8 million range.