The New York Jets roster is starting to take shape as we enter the final legs of the offseason race in mid-August.
With that comes clarity on some key roster battles and which players have emerged with leadership roles heading into the 2021 campaign.
Normally a position of that magnitude comes with some defined prerequisites: large salary or lofty draft status.
Although a very surprising player has risen to the occasion for the green and white.
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Whelp, Didn’t See That One Coming
During the second episode of 1 Jets Drive that was centered around the Gang Green wide receivers, we found out a bit more detail about this group overall.
One player that stood out was former Jacksonville Jaguars stud, Keelan Cole.
The goofy fifth-year pro was signed to a one-year deal for $5.5 million and among all the moves across the NFL landscape, this one completely flew under the radar this offseason.
Despite his humble contractual beginnings, Cole has burst on the scene with his carefree personality and infectious energy.
He was called the “glue guy” of the Jets receiving corps and you can see why.
Cole has developed a rapport with rookie quarterback Zach Wilson on the field but has also been a tremendous leader by example off of it.
If you would’ve asked me to make a bet on who the “glue guy” would be of this group, Cole may have been one of the last names I thought of. I guess that’s why I’m writing this article on my couch and he’s in the NFL.
An Unlikely Hero That Is Having a Tremendous Impact
When you hear the term “glue guy” that is normally associated with some of those prerequisite terms we mentioned earlier. Big contract (Corey Davis) or lofty draft status (Elijah Moore), yet Cole has neither of those on his resume.
The 28-year old went undrafted back in 2017 and his $5.5 million salary ranks him 37th among wide receivers on a per-year basis in 2021.
Cole’s personality keeps the wide receiver room loose and that allows everyone to play their best. On top of his antics, the skills he brings to the table are legit. He has speed and a veteran savvy that is rubbing off on several of his teammates including second-year pro Denzel Mims.
“Really I have been through some of the same things he went through,” Cole on Mims’ journey thus far. “I feel like it’s kind of a blessing that I’d be here to help him with some of those same types of things. Everything happens for a reason.”
Mims would later call him a “big brother” that he has really bonded with since the Jets signed him. The former Baylor product has fallen in the wide receiver rotations during training camp, but more than made up for it during the preseason opener vs the New York Giants.
Cole played a major part in keeping Mims mentally focused on what’s most important to him.
Douglas is trying to build the best culture in sports and the surprising rise of Cole is a major factor in that. You can’t put a price tag on what the veteran wideout has meant to the team this offseason.