Jets Position Review: Wide Receiver

Wide Receiver is by far the most improved group on the Jets this offseason as we’ve added several good players. Last year our top 4 receivers were Crowder, Perriman, Mims and Berrios. Perriman left for Detroit but the Jets signed Corey Davis and Keelan Cole as free agents then drafted Elijah Moore out of Ole Miss. Davis is currently the closest to a true number 1 receiver meanwhile Crowder has been the Jets top target the past 2 years. However, my eyes are on the future where I see Mims and Moore developing into 1a and 1b in the Jets passing attack. After those 4 I’m a huge fan of Berrios and I think Cole was a steal giving the Jets one of the deepest receiving groups in the NFL. Even the depth after them in Lawrence Cager, Vyncint Smith and Jeff Smith have flashed in limited action. Douglas promised to surround our young QB with talent and he has done that. The duos of Davis/Mims and Crowder/Moore will allow Lafleur to take advantage of whatever the defense puts out there and leaves a truly exciting core for the future.

I was initially hesitant about Corey Davis as he came from the ridiculously efficient Titans offense playing behind Aj Brown. However, after watching his tape and development the past few years I think he can be a true #1 WR. He displayed improved route running, YAC ability and his contested catch ability is among the best in the entire NFL ranking 5th in catch rate over expectation. After setting the FBS record for receiving yards, Davis was taken 5th overall in the 2017 draft due to his dominant college career and elite physical traits. He disappointed as a rookie but has averaged 825 yds and 4 TDs since then with 2020 being the most impressive with 984 yds and 5 TDs accompanied by an elite 86.9 PFF grade. On a per snap basis he was top 5 in conversion % (1st), passer rating when target (5th), yards/route run (4th), and yards/target (2nd). The tape, measurables and statistics back up Corey Davis being the #1 receiver for the Jets. I’m excited to see him in a less run heavy offense as the top target.

Jamison Crowder has been a home run signing for the Jets, becoming one of the best slot receivers in the NFL since signing in 2019. He’s led the Jets in targets, receptions, yards and touchdowns every year and has been a top 10 receiver from the slot. In 2021 I still expect him to be our top receiver to start the season and our most consistent target on a weekly basis. The only thing that has truly stopped Crowder is injuries and poor QB play/play calling as he consistently has gotten open when on the field. I love Crowder but at 28 years old and in the final year of his contract this is likely his last year with Moore, Berrios and Cole behind him. After accepting a pay cut he’ll remain with the team however I wouldn’t be shocked to see him on a new team before the trade deadline.

Denzel Mims has been the most slept on Jet this spring as Davis plays a very similar role to him. However I have sky high expectations for him even if he does not get the target share that his play warrants. Mims was widely considered a 1st round prospect in one of the most talented WR classes ever. So when Douglas was able to trade back and still draft him at 59, I was elated. Mims is a physical specimen coming in at 6’ 3", 207 pounds and still running a 4.38s 40 and a 6.66s 3 cone drill. His combination of size and speed, as well as his catching ability, make me believe he will develop into a #1 receiver. As a rookie he was solid, in 9 games he racked up 23 catches and 357 yards. While the numbers don’t wow you, the plays he made did. Mims routinely beat corners and when they stayed with him he was able to come down with the ball. With a full offseason and improved QB play I’m confident he will break out.

Elijah Moore fills a gaping hole on the offense in a true home run threat. Moore was pegged as a slot receiver due to his route running savvy and stature at 5’ 9", however he is a playmaker in the purest sense. Moore led all of CFB in YPG and was 2nd in intermediate and deep receiving yards. He had arguably the best route running in the class and led the nation in catch rate over expected. He reminds me of Antonio Brown or Tyreek Hill in his ability to create separation, elite speed and quickness, and his soft hands. In the Jet’s offense he’s projected to align in the slot but will make plays anytime he gets the ball in his hands. The fact that the Jets were able to add him in the 2nd was a robbery. In camp so far he’s been the undisputed top target, consistently getting open and making hard catches. Can’t wait to see him on game day.

Before I move forward I want to focus on our young combination of Denzel Mims and Elijah Moore. I LOVE this duo. Mims brings a big bodied target that can bully smaller defenders while still having more than enough speed and quickness to gain separation and take the top off the defense. Moore on the other hand is a player that will get open, make players miss and move the chains. Individually they could both be #1 receivers for their respective teams. Together they form the ideal 1-2 punch for the modern NFL. At only 23 and 21 respectively, they will be the Jets 1a and 1b for a very long time. Now onto the depth, previously these players would likely be the 2nd and 3rd option on our team, how far we’ve come.

Keelan Cole was an underrated signing as he was the Jaguars 2nd or 3rd option since he was drafted. Originally he was used as a down field threat where he had the best season of his career racking up 750 yds and 3 TDs but was moved inside as time went on where he wasn’t as successful. It’s been reported that Douglas has been attempting to trade for him since he became our GM and I’m not surprised why. He brings grit and versatility being able to align anywhere and is a quality run blocking which is an underappreciated skill. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Cole leads the NFL in contested catch rate since 2018 at 65.5% which was backed up by his tape. At 28 I’m not expecting Cole to become a starter but I expect him to be a solid contributor. We finally won’t be running out Jeff Smith, Braxton Berrios and Vyncint Smith when injuries hit. He has taken advantage of Mims, Crowder, and Davis missing the start of camp and is making a strong case for being in the starting line up.

I’ve been a huge Braxton Berrios fan for awhile but he is moving down the depth chart with recent additions. Berrios is a pure slot receiver in the mold of Edelman that also contributes as a punt returner. Last year he led the Jets YAC/reception and has stepped up whenever he was targeted. In 2020 when Berrios saw at least 4 targets, he averaged 5 catches, 50 yds, and .5 TDs with a 72% catch rate. With the addition of Moore and Cole his future is in question but I believe Berrios can be a starting slot in the NFL and is at worst high quality depth. He’s quickly become Zach Wilson’s security blanket and has impressed with his tenacity and route running. With Crowder’s contract situation, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Berrios take on a bigger role this year.

Filling out the roster are youngsters Jeff Smith, Lawrence Cager, and Vyncint Smith. Jeff Smith was an UDFA in 2019 that impressed with his route running and effort. Last year he led this group with 17 catches and 167 yards. A former college QB, Smith has plenty of room to improve as he learns a new position. Lawrence Cager is a big target at 6’ 5" who the Jets signed after the 2020 draft. He flashed in camp but went down with a hamstring injury shortly after making the roster. I had high expectation for Vyncint Smith coming from the Texans practice squad after drawing rave reviews from Demaryius Thomas. He’s been a solid kick returner and had a respectable 2019 with 17 catches and 227 yards before falling off in 2020 with only 1 catch. They’re an unheralded bunch but are young and have good potential.

This is far and away the best Jets receiving group since Marshall/Decker but it’s depth and potential is what truly sets it apart. Mims, Moore, and Davis all have the potential to be true #1 receivers meanwhile Crowder has been a top 10 slot receiver since 2019. I expect Davis and Crowder to lead the 1st few games but I truly believe that Mims and Moore can be one of if not THE best duo in the NFL. Backing them up is fan favorite and punt returner, Braxton Berrios and the Jaguars #2 receiver ¾ yrs in Keelan Cole. The past few years we’ve sent out practice squad players when injuries came, now our top 6 options are all starting caliber players. Joe Douglas promised to give our QB weapons, in 2 years he has done just that.

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