An unlikely star has burst onto the scene early during New York Jets OTAs.
Say hello to wide receiver Keelan Cole.
Back during free agency the green and white spread around $75 million in guarantees to a variety of players. When Cole signed a one-year deal for $5.5 million, it was swept under the rug and got lost in the shuffle.
He got buried even deeper on the depth chart following the 2021 NFL draft when the Jets snagged talented wideout Elijah Moore out of Ole Miss with the No. 34 overall pick in the second round.
Despite all the talent around him, Cole has continued to make the most of his limited opportunities.
Keelan Cole Has ‘Flashed Early’ During Jets OTAs
Jets team reporter Eric Allen said that Cole has “flashed early” throughout the voluntary offseason training activities.
Allen wasn’t the only person that had high praise for the former Jacksonville Jaguars stud.
Rich Cimini of ESPN noted Cole’s “big day” last week with Gang Green’s top three wideouts absent from action. Denzel Mims was MIA, Jamison Crowder continues to not show up, and Corey Davis was battling an injury.
New York Daily News Jets reporter DJ Bien-Aime noticed the connection between Cole and rookie quarterback Zach Wilson during practice. He said the pair was “cooking” during the portion of OTAs that was open to the media.
“Keelan Cole just keeps getting open man,” Bien-Aime replied as he recapped practice. “He was really standing out among the players that were there.”
All of this training is voluntary so players don’t have to show up and several of them have exercised that right. This has opened up the door for Cole to get some extra reps and he’s made the most of them.
Cole Will Benefit From the Other Talent Around Him
While initially a lot of talent around Cole in the wide receiver room may seem like a bad thing, it actually is good news. With so many weapons on offense, teams won’t be able to focus on any one single thing to stop.
He’s a savvy veteran that just knows how to get open.
The 28-year-old stud has hauled in over 110 passes that resulted in first downs. He won’t be the guy that squares off against the defense’s No. 1 cornerback, but he’ll work his way around the football field both in the slot and on the outside.
During his four-year career with the Jaguars, Cole never registered a 1,000-yard campaign or caught more than 55 receptions in any single season. Despite never being the guy, he was always a key cog in the rotation.
While the Jets are deeper at receiver than they’ve been in a long time, all of these weapons will find a way to get on the field.
Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur runs an intriguing offensive system that gets a nice rotation going at wideout. This strategy keeps his receivers fresh and also keeps opposing defenses guessing on who is going to line up and how they can stop them.
Plus it’s important to note that injuries happen in the NFL. No one knows that better than Jets fans. Gang Green is more prepared than ever if an injury hits them at wideout to really preach that next-man-up mentality.
Cole is a loyal soldier ready to be deployed if and when called upon. If these early OTAs are any indication of his potential impact on the football field, it’s not a matter of ‘if’ he’ll get on the field it’s only a question of ‘when’.