What could the New York Jets’ new (and improved) wide receiving corps look like this upcoming season?
A significant number of eyes will be on the Jets wide receiving corps this year.
Why is that?
Well for one, the unit (at least on paper) is much improved from last season following the offseason acquisitions of Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, and Keelan Cole. The group will additionally be a significant factor in rookie quarterback Zach Wilson‘s development.
The performance level will carry extreme importance, which means the preseason decisions made regarding the unit will be critical.
Who may start? Who may be in the mix as more of a reserve wideout?
Corey Davis: Clear-cut No. 1 WR
Let’s initially establish the fact Corey Davis is expected to be the team’s No. 1 wideout.
The Jets made a noteworthy investment in Davis this offseason by inking him to a three-year, $37.5 million deal. The team knows what it could get out of him given the talents he portrayed for a number of years in Tennessee and is slated to place him atop the depth chart.
Davis will likely earn more reps on the outside as opposed to the slot.
Having said that, who lines up on the inside?
Slot role: Elijah Moore?
The Jets additionally made an investment in Elijah Moore this offseason, having drafted the rookie receiver out of Ole Miss in the second round.
Following that selection back in late April, Moore impressed in offseason workouts.
The first-year player puts a significant level of versatility on display, possessing speed, elusiveness, and superb hands as part of his game. These qualities would be perfect for the starting slot role.
Not to mention, it already seems as if Moore is developing a nice rapport with fellow rookie Zach Wilson.
As of right now, the Jets may be higher on Moore than others, which could lead to him seeing serious playing time.
Slot role: Jamison Crowder?
Sure, Jamison Crowder is a more experienced NFL receiver than Moore, but the organization may be losing interest in him (remember, this Joe Douglas-Robert Saleh regime didn’t initially acquire Crowder back in March 2019).
The team restructured his contract ahead of the 2021 campaign. Jamison’s base salary for the upcoming season is now $5 million when it was previously $10 million.
Crowder has additionally dealt with health-related issues. The 28-year-old has only played one full season over the last three (he partook in just 12 games in 2020).
Given the lack of consistent availability and the (seemingly) superior interest in Moore, Crowder may have ground to cover during the training camp and preseason periods.
Slot role: Keelan Cole?
Now, this is where it gets tricky.
Because there are other receivers the Jets will probably wish to provide reps to, but Keelan Cole needs to be in the mix as well. The talent is present — the free-agent pickup caught 55 balls for 642 yards and five touchdowns with Jacksonville last year.
I’m not sure Cole will start — it’s not like a massive investment was made (the Jets only signed him to a one-year, $5.5 million deal). Nevertheless, he’ll at least earn reps on heavy passing downs.
Where does Denzel Mims stand?
The Jets drafted Denzel Mims in last year’s second round and a possible belief was that he could’ve grown into a No. 1 receiver.
But ahead of his second season, Mims isn’t near the top spot on the depth chart. He’s certainly not above Corey Davis and might be a No. 3 option behind the starting slot man.
Regardless, expect Mims to earn notable time (he could potentially start at the split end spot opposite Davis).
The fact he only played nine games last year is an issue though — Denzel must remain healthy in order for the Jets to benefit the most from him.
Mims will be someone fans should keep an eye on during training camp and the preseason. On-field development is expected, and if provided the right situation, the 23-year-old could become a consistently productive target.