The New York Jets may not have a true No. 1 wide receiver on the roster heading into 2021.
But what they lack in star power, they more than make up for in versatility.
Gang Green offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur likened this group to a starting five in basketball and praised the diversity of this unit.
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Let’s Introduce the Jets Starting Five on the Hardwood
“There’s versatility within this group,” LaFleur on the Jets’ wide receivers during the Flight 2021 docuseries. “That’s the thing with this receiving corps, I look at them like a starting five in basketball.”
“You aren’t always going to line up Jamison Crowder on the outside, although he can do it. We are going to put him in the slot where he can work on those nickel defenders and maximize his short-area quickness.”
The Jets were able to retain Crowder for half of the price he was scheduled to make. I’m sure the veteran wasn’t a fan of eating a pay cut, but he’ll be more motivated in 2021 on the last year of his deal to prove the doubters wrong.
While he may not be as flashy as some of the other receivers on this roster, he’s the ole reliable point guard of this group. Don’t be surprised if he becomes a security blanket for Zach Wilson early this season.
“Denzel Mims plays big on the outside and he’s got the length and the radius. We’re going to get him better at playing inside the numbers. It’s just about mixing and matching those guys.”
After an off-and-on rookie year that showed glimpses of Denzel Mims’ potential, fans have cast him aside this offseason. He was reportedly running with the twos in practice after dealing with a non-COVID-related illness.
If we used the basketball analogy, Mims would likely translate as the NBA’s version of a stretch five. He’s one of the biggest receivers on the roster and can box out cornerbacks as he fights for the ball at its’ highest point.
The simplest way to maximize his talents is in the red zone and in the vertical passing game. Although LaFleur raises a fascinating scenario: playing him in the slot as a mismatch nightmare vs slower linebackers or smaller corners.
“Keelan Cole brings that speed element to this group and he’s been a really good third down player over his career.”
Cole has been the pleasant surprise of the offseason so far. Expectations were relatively low when he signed a one-year deal as a depth piece this past March. Yet he has continued to flash when given the opportunity. Cole is the small forward of this group and will pop when called upon.
These Are the Straws That Stir the Drink for the Jets
“Obviously Corey Davis brings his size to the receiving corps. What’s cool about Davis is he has the quickness to get off the line of scrimmage. He’s got the radius, the size, and the strength to just outmuscle guys for the football. Davis doesn’t get brought down easily. He’s a 6-foot-3, 215-pound man and I think we’re getting him right in his prime.”
The former Tennessee Titans wideout is the power forward of this group. He’s a tough son of a gun that is willing to do all the dirty work for the team with no complaints. While plenty will question if he’s a true No. 1 wide receiver, that’s irrelevant.
Davis is a perfect scheme fit for this offense with his ability to catch contested balls and thrive in the play-action game. This is an under-the-radar signing from free agency that’ll pay major dividends in 2021.
“Miles Austin has done a great job with Elijah Moore putting him everywhere. We’ve seen him at X, Z, and F and that’s rare for a rookie receiver to get all that work so early. He’s a fun dude to coach and whatever success he achieves will be because he earned it.”
Elijah Moore is going to be the splashy exciting shooting guard in this offense. While we must somewhat temper expectations for a rookie wide receiver in an NFL offense, he has a chance to be the straw that stirs the drink.
Just as LaFleur noted, they’re going to line him up all over the formation. He’s shown early that he’s capable of handling that kind of diverse workload.
This is a very balanced, deep, and versatile receiving corps. The comparison to a starting five in basketball is very apt.