Jets Rookie Is ‘Making It Clear He’s an NFL-Caliber Receiver’

Mike LaFleur

Getty New York Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur may have found a new weapon at training camp.

As training camp and the preseason progress, roster battles tend to reveal themselves and one of the headliners for the New York Jets in 2022 is at wide receiver.

Barring injury, we know that Elijah Moore, Garrett Wilson, Corey Davis and Braxton Berrios are safe. It is the assumption of most beat reporters that Jeff Smith will make the team as well. There’s a good chance that the Jets will only keep one more wide receiver beyond that based on all the depth at other positions.

After Keshunn Abram’s release, the challengers for that potential final role are now Denzel Mims, Calvin Jackson Jr., Irvin Charles, Rashard Davis and Tarik Black — although it could be a two-way faceoff if things continue the way they’ve been going.

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Mims & Jackson Could Be Dueling for WR6

Charles, Black and Rashard Davis have had their moments in camp but all three flopped offensively against the Philadelphia Eagles — Charles did stand out on special teams but had too many “almost” highlights otherwise.

That has set the stage for a clear head-to-head between Mims and Jackson. The former was a big-name second-round pick with all the hype and pressure of the New York market behind him. The latter is a “Last Chance U” success story that entered the league undrafted with very few expectations.

Different roads, similar destinations.

The Athletic’s Zack Rosenblatt talked about the pair during a recent risers and fallers article on August 15. Jackson was listed as a riser:

The 5-foot-9 wideout from Washington State has had the best camp of the undrafted rookies — and he’s putting himself in a legitimate position to compete for a spot on the 53-man roster. That still will be challenging — he might need the Jets to either cut/trade Denzel Mims, a recent second-round pick, or for them to keep seven wide receivers — but he’s making it clear he’s an NFL-caliber receiver.

Sunday, Jackson even got some reps with the starters, hauling in a catch from Flacco, with whom he’s connected on some nice throws throughout camp running with the second team. He also made a nice grab on a ball Streveler threw over his head on Sunday, and scored the game-winning touchdown against the Eagles, too.

At minimum, Jackson has earned a spot on the practice squad.

It was a nice mention from Rosenblatt and an accurate one too. Jackson has actually appeared to be ahead of Mims for most of camp, as the Baylor product has rotated in with Mike White and the third-team more often than not.

Mike LaFleur has designed specific plays for Jackson too, and the UDFA offers more versatility both within the offense and on special teams as a potential returner.

Having said that, the Jets won’t officially hand the rookie anything until Mims is traded or released. Admitting his continued fall sooner would just diminish his value even further, but the writing does appear to be on the wall.

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Mims Stock Down, Move ‘Feels Inevitable’

Rosenblatt also named Mims as one of his “fallers” in the write-up.

“It’s been a strange camp for Mims, who hasn’t gotten many reps with [Zach] Wilson and the starters, getting targeted just once with that group,” he explained. “He has shown some flashes of his talent, but that’s often mixed with an even number of mistakes or mental errors. On top of that, Mims has been visibly and loudly frustrated with his role. He expressed his frustration to [Robert] Saleh directly. Mims also said at a recent news conference he feels that he deserves to start.”

The beat reporter also voiced that Jackson has “outplayed him,” providing more consistency and stability. Mims’ poorly-timed drops and bonehead penalties are perfect examples of his frustrating flaws.

Rosenblatt concluded that “the talent is there, but it feels inevitable that his next regular-season game might be in another uniform.”

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