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Breaking Down The Jets: The Wide Receivers

We are moving to a group that should see a lot more production this season.

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to part three of "Breaking Down The Jets", today we're focusing in on our wide receivers. Previously we have focused on the running backs HERE and the quarterbacks HERE. The production we get from the receivers is directly related to the production we get from the quarterback, you can have the best receivers in the league, unless you get them the ball, there isn't a lot you can do.

Current Depth Chart

Brandon Marshall

Eric Decker

Jeremy Kerley

Devin Smith

Chris Owusu

Saalim Hakim

Quincy Enunwa

T.J Graham

Shaquelle Evans

Devier Posey

Walt Powell

Jonathan Rumph

There are a lot of names above and before the first ball is thrown against Cleveland the 12 names will be whittled in half. Most teams will carry 6 wide receivers on their roster, we may carry 7 but it's probably going to be 6, in fact the 2012 Buffalo Bills with Gailey at the helm only started the season with 5 wide receivers.

For the purpose of this article, let us work on the assumption that we will carry 6 wide receivers this year. You have to imagine that Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley and Devin Smith all make the roster. Marshall is a true #1 that was brought in to make us more effective in the red-zone. Decker is an excellent receiver who I think will have a monster year now he's healthy and not facing #1 coverage almost exclusively. Devin Smith is our drafted deep threat that will be given 1-2 years to develop while playing a key role in stretching the field, and Jeremy Kerley is a decent reliable slot receiver.

Which means you have 8 receivers fighting for 2 roster spots. It's very unlikely that rookie Jonathan Rumph will make this year, he caught 1 touchdown in college and had under 40 career catches. Never say never, but him making the team would be extremely surprising so that takes you down to 7 receivers for 2 open roster spots.

Chris Owusu had a nice touchdown grab against the Dolphins last year but he only recorded 6 receptions on the season. He's been in the league for four years now and his career highs were 13 catches for 114 yards in 2013 where he started 4 games for Tampa Bay. He has all the physical attributes, but at some point you need to put it all together.

Saalim Hakim is another player who has been around for a while now. He's been in the NFL for three years but never made much of an impression as a receiver. He has seen time as a kick returner but does he do that well enough to steak a claim on the roster? I'm really not sure. He does play on the coverage units as well and he'll need to excel on specials to make this roster.

Quincy Enunwa - People love the speed and the size of Quincy but he's yet to record a single reception with the Jets and he was a cut his rookie camp before being signed to the practice squad. He was promoted to the active roster last year but saw very little time. He finished his college career with 15 touchdowns and 1526 yards over his 4 years at Nebraska.

T.J Graham - T.J Graham played under Chan Gailey and made the final roster in Buffalo in 2012. A former 3rd round selection, he's never quite worked out. He was let go by the Bills before the 2013 season and then let go by the Titans before landing with the Jets in 2014. He saw some action as the Jets kick returner last year, but did very little to stand out.

Shaquelle Evans - Evans is a guy I really liked last year but his rookie season was over before it began. He has been known to suffer from the case of the dropsies and he'll be working to brush off the rust that accumulates when you don't play football for an entire season. In his final year at UCLA he recorded 47 receptions for 709 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns. He has talent, but can he stick out enough to earn a spot?

Devier Posey - Poset like Graham is a 3rd round selection that never quite worked out. Last year he was active for just the single game and he's still looking for his first NFL touchdown, 3 seasons into his career. He was a healthy scratch for most of the season last year but first year Jets GM Mike Maccagnan knows Posey well, he was the director of college scouting for the Texans when they selected the Ohio State prospect.

Walt Powell - Drafted by the Cardinals in the 6th round of the 2014 draft, Powell was released during final cuts. He was claimed by the Jets and saw some some time returning kicks and punts. Needless to say he was a lot more effective returning kicks than he was returning punts. He doesn't offer a great deal in my personal opinion.

Any clearer on who makes the roster? No me neither.

The Salary Situation

Year Brandon Marshall Eric Decker Jeremy Kerley Devin Smith Quincy Enunwa Chris Owusu Saalim Hakim T.J Graham DeVier Posey Walt Powell Shaquelle Evans Joanthan Rumph
2015 $9,000,000 $6,500,000 $2,600,000 $1,067,713 $435,000 $660,000 $585,000 $660,000 $748,000 $510,000 $547,725 $435,000
2016 $9,500,000 $8,000,000 $3,100,000 $1,334,641 $525,000 $600,000 $712,725 $525,000
2017 $7,500,000 $8,750,000 $3,600,000 $1,601,569 $615,000 $690,000 $802,725 $615,000
2018 UFA $9,000,000 $4,100,000 $1,868,497

It's important to note that we can cut Brandon Marshall after the 2015 season without a cap hit. We have him signed through 2017, but if things didn't work out, we could cut our losses after the 2015 season and move in another direction. We have Decker signed through 2018, so the nucleus for a good partnership is there. We have our core receivers tied up for the next few years and all the lower end talent are on team friendly deals meaning they can be cut without much consequence at any point. Hopefully Devin Smith works out and we have him on a very friendly cap hit for the next 4 years.

Possible Storylines

  • How long will it take Devin Smith to develop into a true NFL wide receiver. He will run the deep route well and his concentration on those deep balls is spectacular, but we'll be watching to see how he runs those short and intermediate routes. How does he get in and out of his breaks, how does he deal with physical corners at the line.
  • Development, development, development. We need to see something from Enunwa & Owusu.
  • Can Evans cut the drops out and make a push for the roster spot. He was a highly touted receiver going into college and his actual college production was good, how can he force his way up the depth chart.
  • Who is going to rise to the top in terms of special teams. As the #5 and #6 option on this team, you're not going to see the field that much in base formations, regardless of how much Gailey likes to spread the field. You need to play on all the units and you need to perform, who's going to do the dirty work to get to the promised land.

Projected Depth Chart

Brandon Marshall

Eric Decker

Jeremy Kerley

Devin Smith

Chris Owusu

Shaquelle Evans

Cut - Saalim Hakim, T.J Graham, Walt Powell, Devier Posey, Quincy Enunwa, Joanthan Rumph

I've got a good feeling about Evans this year, I saw so much talent at UCLA, if he can put it together he could surprise a lot of people. Owusu is raw, but I'm willing to give him the nod. My problem here is, who will return kicks and punts? That's a tough question to answer but I don't think Hakim or Graham have shown enough to put them on here just for the sake of it. Will they give Kerley or Smith a chance? I like the potential of Owusu and Evans, which is why I'm placing them on the depth chart.

The Future

The future is quite bright for the Jets. We have Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker signed for a few more years, Decker is hitting his prime and although Marshall is 30+, I haven't seen anything to suggest he'll slow down, the injuries are the only worry. We have Kerley signed who's a decent slot receiver and Devin Smith has bags of potential. If we get someone like Evans or Owusu break through, the future is quite bright at the position for the Jets. Although if nobody breaks through and Marshall bombs, we'll have a very different perspective this time next year.

The Free Agents

Demaryius Thomas (27)

Dez Bryant (26)

A.J Green (26)

Julio Jones (26)

Anquan Boldin (34)

Malcolm Floyd (33)

Percy Harvin (27)

Michael Crabtree (27)

Jermaine Kearse (25)

T.Y Hilton (25)

Josh Gordon (24)

Alshon Jeffrey (25)

Obliviously there is a lot of talent here, but most of it won't hit the free agent market. Thomas and Bryant will get long term deals, it's just a matter of when rather than If. All indications point to the Colts giving Hilton a long term deal and I can't see Atlanta letting Jones hit the FA market. We can dream about signing one of these guys, but the top end talent probably gets done before free agency starts and if a long term deal isn't reached, most of these players will be tagged by their teams.