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The 2020 State of the Jets Receivers

A lot of players with talent, few guarantees

New York Jets v Buffalo Bills Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

With the 2020 season fast approaching (hopefully) the Jets have little time to upgrade their roster before training camp begins. While the Jets have a host of players vying for playing time at the receiver position, there is little star power surrounding any of those players. Granted a number of those players could break out to become go-to playmakers in 2020, but you can’t count on that happening.

Let’s take a look at the receivers Sam Darnold will have to throw to this coming year. The Jets currently have 11 receivers on the team. Would an addition help the roster?

Breshad Perriman

Perriman was signed to a one year $6.5 million contract this offseason to bolster the receiving core after the Jets lost Robby Anderson in free agency. Perriman is a former 1st round pick (#26 overall) in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens but had serious injury problems right from the start. He missed all of his rookie season then started only 6 games total the next three seasons in Baltimore.

He eventually moved on to Tampa in 2019 where he started slow with target sponges Chris Godwin & Mike Evans in front of him. When those players became injured late in the season Perriman began to shine. From Week 13 on Perriman had 506 receiving yards, 25 receptions and 5 TDs. It was by far the best 5 game stretch of his career.

Perriman is not a technically sound route runner. He is also coming into a new offense. There were no OTAs or minicamps to help acclimate him to Adam Gase’s system.

He is a veteran with great speed. He should also have sky high confidence in his ability with his recent exceptional play. Perriman is also playing on a one year contract so he is playing for his future.

Will Perriman continue to make plays with the Jets?

Denzel Mims

Mims is a highly touted rookie 2nd round draft pick with exceptional physical abilities. He has 4.38/40 speed standing at nearly 6’ 3” and had the best 3-cone drill (shows agility) of any player at the NFL Combine. With a near 40” vertical (along with his height) he can high point a ball over most (if not all) defensive backs he plays against.

Still Mims is a rookie who is making a huge leap in competition from the Big XII to the NFL. He is doing so without all the normal practice that a rookie gets during the offseason. With a new offense, a new QB, and the necessity of learning new techniques the odds are stacked against Mims having significant production in year 1.

Mims does have a rather large chip on his shoulders because he feels disrespected after dropping in the Draft. In theory this could propel him to greater heights.

Will Mims become the go to guy on the Jets?

Jamison Crowder

Crowder was the reception leader for the Jets in 2018 with 78 receptions for 833 yards. He showed an ability to get open quick, which combined with the horrid O-line play made him a target monster with 122. Mainly due to a total lack of time to throw, Crowder garnered nearly 25% of the Jets total targets in 2019.

If you take away the three games Jamison played without Sam Darnold where he averaged 4.7 targets a game his favorite status with Sam becomes more clear. In the 13 games played with Sam, Crowder averaged 8.3 targets a game. This includes the thrashing of the Raiders (34-3) where passing wasn’t really needed and Crowder got only 4 targets.

This situation has positive and negative ramifications. Where it is nice to have an option like Crowder for Sam,it makes an offense stagnant, a station to station offense that needs double digit play drives to score. Long drives are hard to manufacture for any offense, especially the Jets offense. A negative play or a holding call can make it very difficult for the offense to recover from.

To make the point Crowder averaged 7.6 targets a game in 16 contests in 2019. He had 78 receptions (64% catch rate) with his longest reception at 41 yards He was the leading receiver but averaged only 52 yards a game. Robby Anderson, who was third on the team in receptions, had 26 less targets, 26 less receptions but only 54 less yards than Crowder.

Crowder also needs to work on his hands as he led the Jets with 8 dropped passes. His reception depth was a meager 6.1 yards. but he added 4.6 yards of YAC to average 10.7 yards a reception His size at 5’ 9” 177 lbs was also a double edged sword as he was quick enough to get open with decent YAC numbers but broke a paltry 4 tackles all year.

Will Crowder receive more or fewer targets in 2020?

Vyncint Smith

Smith is an interesting player for the Jets coming into 2020. Hailing from tiny Limestone College Smith only drew attention because of his size speed ratio. Smith stands 6’ 3” 202 lbs but ran a timed 4.36/40 at his pro day Add to that a 39.5” vertical which made NFL evaluators sit up and take notice. He was a UDFA in 2018 who signed with the Houston Texans. With DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, Demaryius Thomas, and Keke Coutee ahead of him on the depth chart Smith had little time to shine.

Smith ended up with a mere 10 targets, accumulating 5 receptions for 91 scoreless yards with the Texans. He was used quite differently in Houston than with the Jets. In Houston he was a downfield threat (naturally) given his size, speed and jumping ability. Smith averaged a 17.0 yard per target (distance the ball travels to the receiver before it reaches it’s target) in Houston as a downfield weapon.

With the Jets Smith had 31 targets with the average depth of pass of 7.1 yards. Smith’s depth of reception was only 1 yard deeper than Jamison Crowder’s. This is a massive misuse of Smith’s skill set. Maybe the loss of Robby Anderson will afford Smith more opportunities downfield where he has a much better chance to thrive. It would also make the Jets offense much more explosive to have multiple vertical threats on the field at the same time. This would open up more space for Crowder underneath, it may also give Le’Veon Bell more room to operate with fewer defenders in the box.

Does Smith become a viable threat for the Jets in 2020?

Braxton Berrios

Berrios was active for every game in 2020 becoming a the primary punt returner for the Jets. He had all 21 punt returns the Jets made in 2019 with the longest return being 26 yards. He also had 4 of the 37 kickoff returns for the Jets averaging a mere 12 yards per return. He had a grand total of 85 offensive snaps during the year with 30 coming in week 3, a total drubbing the Jets received from the New England Patriots. Berrios had a season high 6 targets but only 2 receptions for 29 yards in that game.

Berrios projects as a slot receiver because of his size (5’ 9” 190 lbs), but he also is a very nice athlete. He has some great short area speed as he ran a 4.44/40 at the Combine. There he also showed elite agility with a 6.72 sec 3-cone drill with good explosiveness and a 36” vertical jump.

Because of his skill set I don’t see Berrios having a problems making the 2020 roster. He is a solid if unspectacular punt returner but also a viable backup slot receiver should Jamison Crowder suffer an injury.

Will Berrios become more involved in the offense is 2020?

This brings us to the question marks on the team....

Josh Doctson

Doctson is a 1st round draft pick in the 2016 Draft (#22 overall) by Washington. He was rated the best receiver by many scouting services after running 4.50/40 with a 41” vertical and a 131” broad jump. He was a predictable bust. His struggles might have downgraded many receivers coming out of the Big XII subsequently like Denzel Mims.

If the “experts” had looked closer they would have seen a receiver who didn’t have to face press coverage and was often left wide open in the Gary Patterson system. He also had poor hands at TCU. His route tree was very limited, and he faced a huge learning curve entering the NFL.

Doctson had a injury plagued first year playing in only two games while making a pair of receptions. The next two years he played in almost 79% of the snaps but only had a combined total of 1,034 yards 8 TDs on 156 targets. Of those he caught 79 which is an appalling 50.6 reception rate despite playing with Kirk Cousins. a quarterback who completed 64.3% of his passes in 2017.

Doctson was let go by Washington after only 3 years (which shows you how they felt about him). He was picked up by the Minnesota Vikings but played only 7 snaps the entire year without making a catch. He was let go then picked up by the Jets. He is entering his age 28 season. He still has talent, but his results thus far in the NFL have been spotty at best.

Doctson represents a lottery ticket as a player. He is a low risk gamble who can either become a viable member of the Jets receiving grou[ or waived without penalty.

Do you think Josh Doctson can make a significant contribution to the Jets?

Josh Malone

Josh Malone was a 4th round draft choice (#128 overall) of the Bengals in the 2017 NFL Draft. He has good size (6’ 3” 205 lbs) and speed 4.40/40 with decent hands coming out of Tennessee. He had a 50 reception, 972 yard (19.4 yard per catch), 11 TD season in 2016 for the Vols. He had high hopes for his NFL career.

Yet NFL stardom hasn’t come to Malone. In two years in Cincinnati he had 7 total receptions for 75 yards and 1 TD on 22 targets. That is a morbid catch rate of 31.8% so he was released during training camp in 2019. The Jets then picked up Malone from the scrap heap, but after landing on the practice squad Malone made it into only two games without receiving even a single target.

Will Josh Malone even make the Jets roster in 2020?

Jehu Chesson

Chesson was another 4th round choice (#139 overall) in the 2017 Draft. He was selected by the Chiefs. Chesson played 4 years in Ann Arbor for the Wolverines amassing 114 receptions and 12 TDs during his college career. He had a quiet senior year, though, collecting only 35 receptions for 500 yards and 2 TDs.

Chesson has good size at 6’ 3” 204 lbs. He has 4.47/40 speed and put up a sensational 6.70 second 3-cone drill at the Combine. Despite playing 45 games for Michigan, success in the NFL has eluded Chesson. He played a single season for Andy Reid in KC before he was let go. If you are a big, fast, quick receiver who Andy Reid drafts, and you have only 2 receptions in 12 games; then get released... it is not good. He spent the entire year of 2019 on the practice squad of receiver deficient Washington then was waived in January.

Jehu Chesson is a lottery ticket of a receiver with no downside for the Jets. If he makes the team he will be a free player and if not he will be a failed experiment that cost the Jets little.

Will Jehu Chesson make the Jets roster?

Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith was a QB turned receiver at Boston College who turned heads at his pro day by running a 4.34/40. He has a strong arm, quickness and speed. He could be a trick play specialist to a coach with a gifted play calling ability. Since the Jets have Adam Gase as head coach that is not an option.

Smith played in a single game for the Jets, catching a pass for 12 yards against the Ravens late in the year. He has practice squad eligibility left.

Will Jeff Smith make the Jets roster?

George Campbell

George Campbell is a 6’ 4” 205 lbs UDFA who tested well at his pro day which was held early enough before all others were shut down. Campbell’s pro day numbers were exceptional. His 40 time (4.35) ranked second, shuttle time (4.32) ranked ninth, broad jump (10’ 6.5) ranked tenth, and his L-drill (7.15) ranked fifteenth. At 6’4”, Campbell has crafted a unique blend of size and athleticism so he has hopes of making the Jets roster.

Campbell is as raw as you can get so his best hope might be to make the practice squad where he can concentrate on this route running and technique.

Do you think George Campbell could make the Jets roster?

Lawrence Cager

Cager is a rangy UDFA receiver from Georgia who is 6’ 4 3/4” 220 lbs. He was graduate transfer from the U of Miami who had horrible QB play while there. He didn’t run at the Combine because of a foot surgery, but he appears to have 4.5-4.55/40 speed. He had 33 receptions in 8 games for 476 yards and 4 TDs while in Georgia.

Another raw receiver, Cager provides great size and he is a physical receiver who knows how to use his body to get open. He would be a lot to handle for any DB he faces. Cager’s best hope might be to make a practice squad to work on his game.

Do you think Lawrence Cager can make the Jets roster?

So that is the players the Jets have at the receiver position at this time. There have been real discussions about resigning Demaryius Thomas to not only bolster the receiving corp but to also be a mentor to Mims as well as Smith, Cager, and Campbell.

Thomas (32) has been on the backside of his career for a few years now, but his sage wisdom as a big receiver could give a career springboard for a player like Mims. Even to work alongside Mims in training camp would be a huge advantage for him.

Thomas would need some guaranteed money before he signed and with the state of the receiving corp he may be invaluable to Sam Darnold as a big reliable target. He no longer has the speed to get downfield, but intermediate routes and slants could be viable with his route running knowledge and his big body.

Do you think the Jets should resign Demaryius Thomas?

That is the state of the Jets receiving corp right now. What do you think? Is there hope with some of these young kids or are we looking at another frustrating season with dropped passes and receivers having difficulty getting open?

What do you think?