Will the rookie out of Ole Miss (Elijah Moore) start once the pads come on, and will he predominantly line up in the slot? How far has 2020 second-rounder Denzel Mims slipped in this positional group? Does the coaching staff consider Keelan Cole a starter? How about Jamison Crowder?
Jets fans aren’t used to this much talent at wide receiver. In most recent seasons, they can hardly field a competitive top three. This year, there are eight to 10 Green and White weapons that have a legitimate chance of making an NFL roster — although not all of them will make this one.
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Saleh Tosses a Wet Blanket on Jets WR Hot Takes
Including myself, Jets nation has had a whole bunch of hot takes when it comes to the wide receiver core including Moore looking like an eventual WR1, Crowder getting traded, and Mims either breaking out this season or falling behind as a WR5/6.
Let’s attack these narratives one by one.
What’s the deal with Mims?
Beat reporter Connor Hughes of The Athletic has been pretty adamant that Cole is the current starter on the outside opposite Davis. Generally speaking though, even Hughes had Mims on the second-team alongside Moore and Braxton Berrios — until July 30.
This tweet caused a stir amongst fans, how is it possible that Mims slipped down to the third-team unit this fast? Vyncint Smith had replaced Mims in the second group.
During his July 31 press conference, Robert Saleh cleared this up a bit. “Yeah so he’s working through some things,” the Jets HC said regarding Mims, “but him coming back [from illness] and working into the groove, all those receivers are part of a rotation, so you see guys, 1s, 2s, 3s and if I look at the rep count it’s darn-near even all the way across the board to give all those guys the same opportunities and the looks and to be able to put them in positions where we know that they’re going to be able to get the ball based on a play.”
He added: “[Mims] is a very talented young man and it’s going to piece together for him, we just gotta keep working with him.”
Translation: A win for the Mims-truthers that noted how early it is in camp. The sophomore out of Baylor still isn’t a starter, but he’ll easily make this roster and factor into the Jets system when it counts.
Will Crowder get traded?
Not too much to report other than that it feels like the veteran slot receiver is here to stay, at least until the mid-season trade deadline.
Team reporter Eric Allen asked Crowder if he thinks that “people on the outside are forgetting about the O.G.,” referring to Jamison. “Yeah, a little bit,” the slot responded with a smirk, “but it is what it is, I know I still got some more in the tank man, I ain’t been in this game seven years for nothing.”
Crowder also talked about the commonalities between Mike LaFleur’s system and the Sean McVay offense that he once played for earlier in his career when he was in Washington. “It’s a lot of similarities in the route combinations, concepts, things I ran out there in Washington, so I think for me that just helped my confidence, especially with a new coaching staff,” he told Allen.
Translation: DON’T SLEEP on the O.G., Crowder.
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Will Moore get starter snaps, if so, where?
When asked if it will be hard to keep Moore off the field, Saleh pumped the brakes on the rookie’s hype train — what happened to all gas?
The HC responded: “He’s doing a really nice job, pads obviously are going to go on to where those DBs can grab hold of you a little bit better, but at the same time there are still a lot of things that he’s got to get better at and there’s a lot of little nuances of the game that he’s learning every single day. He had a couple yesterday that were great teachable moments, he’s going to have a couple today.”
Saleh did end by complimenting Moore’s “mindset,” saying that the staff is “just excited to work with him and fortunate to have him.”
In his first training camp press conference on July 30, Moore explained his internal motivation. He stated: “I mean I hold myself high, but you know I’m human just like everybody else. I make mistakes, I go through things too, but I just hold myself to a high standard. I learn from the guys in front of me and whenever it’s my turn to do something I try to do it like I’ve been there before.”
The Ole Miss product added: “I guess whenever the ball’s in the air everyone tries to be a big-time playmaker, so whenever it’s your turn to make the play you gotta make it.”
Moore also mentioned that Crowder has become a sort of teacher to him, and seemed very appreciative of that. “I have high expectations for myself of course,” he told reporters, “but I’m just day to day with it, I’m taking it day by day and moment by moment, second by second.”
Translation: Moore still looks really, really special, but this coaching staff may not push him to start from day one. He likely has to improve in the gritty areas, as a blocker or in terms of his physicality with pads on. As of now, Moore is the first man off the bench at any and all receiver positions.
Other WR Nuggets From Camp
Hughes featured wide-out D.J. Montgomery for “a pair of gorgeous catches in team drills” in a recent article, one of which can be seen in the video above.
Lawrence Cager has also managed to find his way into both training camp highlight reels that were released by the Jets for July 29 and 30 (above).
The beat reporter also selected Jeff Smith as a player to watch in camp because of his skill set, but the gadget-weapon has been quiet so far. Manasseh Bailey, Josh Malone and Matt Cole have not made headlines in training camp yet either, and aside from his momentary bump up to the second team, I have not heard much from Vyncint Smith.
If the Jets keep seven receivers going into Week 1, there should be a competitive fight for that last spot. If not, these players may be battling for spots on the practice squad behind a stout top six.