Undrafted rookie Jalin Marshall has a chance to not only make a name for himself, but allow the New York Jets offense to flourish.
Despite the sport or the era, there has always been one universal term of truth that has stuck firmly to the ribs of personnel decision makers.
This term, is, “speed kills.”
Yes, speed, the god-given quality that cannot be taught or practiced. Some are blessed with the attribute to blaze faster than others while the rest are always in the unfortunate position of chasing tails.
New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan knows speed when he sees it, but unfortunately for him, his offense isn’t blessed with it.
Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, for how beastly the duo is out-wide, lack the element of speed. Matt Forte, the new Jets featured back, is also without top notch scary straight line speed. The only offensive weapon who has a bundle of speed is second-year Devin Smith (4.42 40-yard dash), and we don’t know when he’s going to return from his knee.
The one wildcard fans continue to hear about doesn’t quite solve the Jets speed problem, but he sure does wonders to improve it.
By now, the name of Jalin Marshall has crept onto the screen of your computer or phone at least once since voluntary OTAs began in Florham Park, NJ. He’s an undrafted WR/RB hybrid from Ohio State. Standing at 5’10” and weighing 200 lbs., his stature fits much more of the running back variety.
Furthermore, his 40-yard speed is nothing to write home about. A 4.60 40-yard at his pro day didn’t drop jaws – which could be the reason he wasn’t taken as a late round flyer in the draft.
What he lacks in straight-line speed, however, he makes up for in explosion.
Marshall is a guy with incredible vision and agility. Should he fill the big boy shoes most onlookers have already dressed him up in, it’d give the Jets an incredible extra boost on the offensive side of the football.
In 2015, when Bilal Powell missed a game (he missed five in total), the Jets were without one of these “versatile” type weapons. Chris Ivory wasn’t that guy. We already know B-Marsh and Decker can’t fill those shoes.
Quincy Enunwa was the closest thing, but his big body is better served as a matchup nightmare in the slot or y-flex.
Marshall now adds to what Forte and Powell already bring to the table. The Jets have not one, but three of these versatile gamebreakers. And even better, in Marshall’s case, the Jets would essentially possess a running back who can line up anywhere and do just about anything.
A perfect example of how the Jets missed this type of versatility came in Week 17. Without Powell, the Jets had to turn to Enunwa on this middle screen:
Enunwa dropped the ball (literally) on a huge play in the biggest game of the season. Honestly, though, Enunwa should’ve never been put in that situation to begin with.
If Jalin Marshall can, indeed, make the 53-man cut this August, he will fit this versatile-package role perfectly. Middle screens, bubble screens, smoke screens, even the occasional draw – Marshall will be able to do it all.
So far, so good for Jalin, and even if he makes the cut as the No. 6 wide receiver, his value in the kick and punt return game could be immeasurable.
Obviously, when cooler heads prevail, it’s understood that who lines up behind Nick Mangold this season will be the top determining factor on whether this offense takes the next step. Hell, the right side of the offensive line is next in importance.
Nonetheless, don’t think for one moment that Jalin Marshall can’t help this offense turn special if the QB and OL is clicking on all cylinders.
He brings the one element – explosion – that the New York Jets were sorely missing out-wide.