Reliability. That is what the New York Jets have lacked out of the receiving corps for years. Since 2015, Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse, and others have roamed the boundaries for Gang Green. All totaled at least one 800-yard and four-touchdown season. Except only Enunwa remains and following a second season-ending neck injury in three years, it is unknown if he will ever return to the gridiron.
For 2020, general manager Joe Douglas took a different approach at receiver than Mike Maccagnan did. He turned to high-upside youth, with cap flexibility for the future. With a completely revamped unit, quarterback Sam Darnold has been spending time in Florida working out with his new teammates. So who exactly will he be throwing to come Week 1?
2020 New York Jets Preview: Wide Receivers Corps
The Starters: Breshad Perriman (WR1), Denzel Mims (WR2), and Jamison Crowder (SLWR)
For the Jets plan at receiver to be successful, consistency will be key. After Robby Anderson left in free agency, the Jets replaced his downfield ability with former Baltimore Ravens first-round pick Breshad Perriman. While Anderson disappeared for games at a time, Perriman’s struggle has been staying healthy. Through five seasons, he has only played 51 games, with just 10 starts. However, when healthy he has flashed his potential. Especially late last season, as he finished with 349 yards and four touchdowns in the final three games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The talent is there for the to-be 27-year old receiver, he just needs to stay healthy.
Opposite of Perriman is likely to be second-round pick Denzel Mims. At 6-3 and 207lbs, the Baylor product has blazing speed with a fantastic catch radius. The physical skill to dominate on the outside is there for Mims to become a very good receiver in the pros. Although, he will need to do significant work in developing a route tree. To help take the load off for both Mims and Perriman is the elder-statesmen of the Jets receiving corps, Jamison Crowder. Entering his sixth season at 27-years old, Crowder finished last season with 833 yards and six touchdowns. There is plenty of potential with Darnold and the Jets receiving unit, assuming everything goes according to plan.
The Jets need their plan at receiver to work because there is no real fallback. Perriman was brought in right after Anderson left for the Carolina Panthers. For him to get injured and at least not replace the production of Anderson would be disastrous. Mims would benefit from having time to develop, although, given the Jets situation at receiver, he will already be starting at number two. That being said, an injury to Perriman would throw Mims right into the fire early. And as good as Crowder has proven to be, at just 5-9 and 177lbs, he will be most effective in the slot.
Joe Douglas took some risks in his approach to revamping Darnold’s receiving corps. There is certainly high upside if Perriman stays healthy, Mims’ picks things up quickly and Crowder remains consistent. But there is also the uncertainty if the Jets are forced to look at their unproven depth pieces for production.
The Backups: Josh Doctson, Vyncint Smith, and Braxton Berrios
As the unit stands, the Jets will rely on three young options as their backups instead of the veterans on the market. First is the to-be 28-year old Josh Doctson. As he joins his third team in five years, Doctson looks to shed his “bust” label. The former Washington Redskins first-round pick in 2016 battled injuries and inconsistent play through three years before being released after 2018. He joined the Minnesota Vikings last season, although only appeared in one game. At 6-2 and 205lbs, he has put up decent enough numbers when on the field, with a career-high 532-yards on 44 receptions in 2018. Doctson also offers the most experience of the Jets receivers outside of Perriman and Crowder.
Joining Doctson are Vyncint Smith and Braxton Berrios, both of who joined Gang Green last September. The 6-3 and 202lbs receiver saw consistent action by seasons end, finishing with 225 yards on 17 receptions. Smith also doubled as the Jets primary kick returner, while Berrios was returning punts. The 5-9 and 190lbs former Miami (FL) product was a former New England Patriots sixth-round pick who the Jets picked up off waivers last year. Berrios saw a limited role in the receiving game, but his experience in the system as Crowder’s slot backup leaves him in good standing for 2020.
The Bubble: Josh Malone, Jehu Chesson, Jeff Smith, Lawrence Cager, and George Campbell
While Doctson, Smith, and Berrios may have the upper hand because of their experience, they are not locks to make the team. The Jets have five promising receivers who will get the chance to compete for a roster spot. Josh Malone and Jehu Chesson are both former 2017 fourth-round picks who have yet to pan out. Both are bigger receivers who fell out of line with their former teams. Malone fell down the Bengals loaded receiving depth chart, while Chesson, having been traded three times, never got a real shot to produce. Behind them is the downfield speedster Jeff Smith, who impressed last off-season. He made it to the 53-man roster in December, although a high-ankle sprain landed him on injured reserve.
Last but not least are rookies Lawrence Cager and George Campbell. Both being tall, lanky receivers who excel downfield, they also have the size to dominate in the red zone. As possession receivers with high upside, they could push for playtime in the preseason and push for roster spots quickly.
Last Word on the 2020 New York Jets Preview: Wide Receivers
Like last season, the Jets have their main trio set entering the season. Jamison Crowder’s connection with Sam Darnold will only grow while Denzel Mims and a healthy Breshad Perriman roam the boundary. Behind them, it is anyone’s game. Every player has a case for the roster, as the training camp battle will be one of the most important this off-season. As entertaining as it will be to watch, the Jets must get it right in order to put the best cast around Darnold as possible in 2020.
Stay tuned for the next article in the 2020 New York Jets Preview series with tight ends!
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