Now that the season is over, we’ll be looking at the players the Jets have signed to futures deals since the end of the season. We continue today with a look at wide receiver Jehu Chesson.
The 26-year old is listed at 6’2” and 204 pounds and was a fourth round pick out of Michigan in 2017. He has played in 24 NFL games with Kansas City and Washington but mostly as a special teamer. He has three catches for 25 yards in his career.
Chesson is of Liberian descent and earned a scholarship at Michigan following a solid high school career in Missouri. After red-shirting his freshman year, Chesson was a back-up over the next two seasons and caught a total of 29 passes for 375 yards and a touchdown.
However, he broke out in 2015 as he caught 50 passes for 764 yards and scored 12 total touchdowns. This including a breakout game against Indiana which saw him catch 10 passes for 207 yards and four touchdowns, including a clutch play on fourth down to send the game to overtime. He then backed this up with another 100-yard game in the Citrus Bowl, although he suffered an injury in that game.
His final season saw his production slip as he seemed to have lost a step since working his way back from the injury and struggled to develop chemistry with new quarterback Wilton Speight. He ended the season with 35 catches for 500 yards and two scores.
After a solid performance at the scouting combine, Chesson re-established himself as a draftable prospect and was selected by the Chiefs in the fourth round. However, he spent most of his rookie year on special teams, only really seeing significant action on offense in the last game of the season.
In the following preseason, he was released in final cuts and ended up on Washington’s practice squad, although he had two stints on the active roster and ended up playing in 12 games, again mostly on special teams.
He was released in final cuts by Washington this season and spent most of the season on their practice squad before signing a futures deal with the Jets after the season.
Let’s move onto some more in-depth analysis of what Chesson brings to the table, based on in-depth research and film study.
Chesson has good size, a decent catch radius and some good athletic numbers. He ran a 4.47 in the 40-yard dash at the combine and also posted excellent results for explosiveness and agility. However, he only managed 10 bench press reps.
Chesson has mostly played on the outside, but has experience of playing in the slot as well. He was exclusively used on the outside in his rookie preseason but since then has got some reps on the inside as well.
He has had some experience of carrying the ball on jet sweeps and end arounds, generating 218 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries in his last two years at college. However, his only NFL carry was a jet sweep that got blown up in the backfield.
Chesson made some downfield plays in college but he was mostly a possession receiver in spite of his speed. He may have been held back by some of the quarterback play at Michigan though, as there were some plays where he was open downfield but had to slow up to wait for the ball.
At the NFL level, he was targeted deep once but that was overthrown and he didn’t really have any separation anyway. However, he did make this nice downfield catch.
Scouting reports indicate that Chesson will sometimes run tall into his breaks and doesn’t disguise routes well. However, based on training camp footage, he has been working on his footwork and sharpening up his route running skills.
On this play, he displays some good footwork off the line and then makes a sharp in-break to create enough separation to allow for the first down to be completed.
He can create some separation naturally due to his size advantage over most cornerbacks. On this play, he runs a basic slant and the cornerback ends up boxed out by Chesson due to the good timing and placement of the pass.
Chesson showed some encouraging signs in the 2015 Citrus Bowl when he was matched up with current NFL starter Vernon Hargreaves. Chesson beat him deep on a long crosser and with a sharp double move to end up with 111 yards.
Chesson’s hand size is below average but he has a good record of being sure-handed. He only averaged a few dropped passes per season in college. However, scouting reports indicate that he will rely on body catching at times.
Although he hasn’t dropped any passes in preseason or regular season action at the NFL level, he failed to make a clean catch on this pass over by the sideline.
Chesson showed in college that he is capable of going to ground to make a diving catch but hasn’t really displayed that at the NFL level yet.
Chesson has yet to be featured in the red zone at the NFL level but caught 12 touchdown passes in college, although many of these were from outside the red zone.
He showed his ability to make clutch catches in a crowd on that game-tying fourth down touchdown against Indiana.
Yards after the catch
Although he has good athletic ability, Chesson hasn’t offered as much after the catch as you’d like to see so far. Most of the big plays he has had have seen him break into the clear completely untouched as he doesn’t break many tackles.
Chesson is a solid blocker who gives a good effort and is capable of dominating smaller players but also contributes by blocking down against linebackers. He has had a few holding calls go against him, though.
On this short touchdown, Chesson shows his dominance against smaller defenders in the running game.
He can also contribute well as a blocker on screen passes, although he sometimes has issues sustaining the block.
Chesson isn’t afraid to go over the middle and gives a good effort as a blocker, but can sometimes be outmuscled by stronger cornerbacks, especially in press coverage, and - as noted - doesn’t break many tackles.
Special teams might be the area where Chesson has his best chance to excel with the Jets. As a punt gunner, he does a consistent job of getting downfield early, racking up seven special teams stops in his rookie year and nine in his first year in college.
Despite this production, he’s very inconsistent as a tackler with a tackle efficiency of below 50 percent in regular season action. Nevertheless, being the first man down and missing the tackle can still be a positive contribution if it slows the return man down to enable the rest of the coverage unit to get to him.
Chesson showed his ability to get downfield on this play where he recovered a free kick to earn his team possession.
In addition to kick coverage and occasional work as a blocker, Chesson also has some limited experience as a return man. He had a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in college and a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown in preseason action.
Other than those two touchdowns, Chesson had five kick returns for 106 yards in college, five for 137 in preseason action and three for 65 yards in regular season action, although he got stuffed inside the 15 on one.
There are times when it seems like Chesson struggles to figure out how to get open and perhaps runs out of ideas on his route so it looks like he’s given up on the play. This was the main reason he didn’t get much offensive playing time in the Chiefs’ system, which requires receivers to constantly adjust their routes based on the coverage.
On this play, he should have worked back to the quarterback but instead allowed the cornerback to jump the route for a near interception.
Chesson seems to show good instincts and vision in the open field as a return man, but that hasn’t really translated to his offensive role.
There are plenty of gushing reports about Chesson’s attitude, describing him as humble, intelligent and possessing an insane work-ethic. Andy Reid praised his team-first attitude and said he loved Chesson’s toughness.
Other than a few holding penalties, he hasn’t had any issues with on-field discipline and there are no red flags off the field either.
The knee injury Chesson suffered during the 2015 Citrus Bowl caused him to miss the following spring’s practices and seemed to be a factor in his reduced production in his final season with the Wolverines.
Since getting to the NFL level, Chesson hasn’t missed time due to injury but was placed on the practice squad injured list with an undisclosed injury last season.
As noted, Chesson had some issues initially with the requirements of Andy Reid’s scheme that forced him to try and think for himself and be creative on routes. There’s less of that within Adam Gase’s system, so perhaps he will start to show some development.
Chesson was a teammate of Jamison Crowder in Washington and fellow futures signing Jimmy Murray with the Chiefs.
Chesson has had a disappointing career so far having been a fourth round pick, but he’s shown some potential to be a solid special teamer at least and perhaps still has a chance to develop more as a receiver.
He profiles similarly to Josh Bellamy and could be a cheaper option for that same role on next year’s team. The Jets certainly have some roster spots available for back-up roles and anyone who can contribute on special teams is a potential candidate.