Looking back at the New York Jets disastrous season, one of the bright spots was the emergence of some young and exciting talent at wide receiver.
The young corps included Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Jalin Marshall, 7th round pick Charone Peake, and former 2nd round pick Devin Smith. Veteran Brandon Marshall finished his final year as a Jet in disappointing fashion and Eric Decker ended on injured reserve with two injuries.
So what does the future hold for these young guns, and do the Jets need to add to this group?
Quincy Enunwa, was one of the infamous Idzik 12. The Nebraska WR was selected in the 6th round and was the 3rd WR drafted by the Jets behind a pair of 4th round picks in Oklahoma Sooners Jalen Saunders and UCLA’s Shaq Evans, neither of which are on the team today. Enunwa only saw the field in one game in his rookie season. In his second year he had 22 Receptions, 315 yards and no TD’s. Quincy was still thought of as a raw receiver entering his 3rd year, but Enunwa made a huge leap and proved what a fantastic receiver he had become. He had 58 receptions for 857 yards and 4 TD’s but that doesn’t tell the whole story though. Enunwa became a go to receiver and of his 58 receptions, an amazing 37 of them were for first downs. He averaged 14.8 yards per catch and had no fumbles. Couple this with the numerous circus catches he made and Jet fans were constantly buzzing over the exciting young playmaker. The question is with Marshall and potentially Decker gone, can Enunwa be the number one receiver that the Jets desperately need? Ultimately I think Enunwa becomes an excellent No.2 receiver that will create mismatches all over the field and be a consistent chain mover.
When the Jets signed UDFA WR Robby Anderson from Temple, it went pretty much unnoticed. That is until Anderson jumped off the page in the Jets preseason games. Against Washington he had 131 yards and a TD, against the Giants 65 yards and a TD, and against the Eagles 61 yards and a TD. Yes, there are always preseason heroes but Anderson felt different. Anderson is 6’ 3” but many thought his wiry frame would not hold up in the pro’s, but Anderson repeatedly proved his doubters wrong. Anderson finished the season with 42 receptions, 587 yards and 2 TD’s. Anderson is the deep speedster that the Jets hoped Devin Smith would be. If Anderson continues his progression this year he can only get better and become more of a threat. I think he will be an excellent deep threat and very good starter for the years to come.
Devin Smith has had a frustrating Jet career to date. Blighted by injuries the former 2nd round pick has struggled to see the field and managed just 1 reception for 20 yards in 2016. The former Ohio State receiver needs to consistently play in games this year and show the skills that prompted the Jets to use the 37th pick in 2015, otherwise Smith could find himself looking for a new team. The emergence of Anderson has put more pressure on Smith to excel. 2017 will be a make or break year for the young receiver.
7th Round pick Charone Peak from Clemson had a steady first season in green and white. A solid preseason was followed by stats of 19 receptions for 186 yards and no TD’s in the 10 games Peake played. Charone has a good all-around game including good hands and good routes and has the potential to improve this year. I believe that Peake will be a solid part of the Jets WR corps going forward as a number 4 or 5 receiver.
Jalin Marshall was a UDFA signed that pleased a lot of Jet fans, and a good preseason only heightened the expectation. Marshall was identified as one of the Jets kick returners, something the Jets has been seeking for a while. Unfortunately for Marshall he had fumble issues all year, which eventually saw him removed from returning duties. At season end Marshall had 14 receptions for 162 yards and 2 TD’s. Marshall certainly showed flashes at receiver, but now facing a 4 game suspension he could be in jeopardy of losing his spot on the team if the Jets select a wide receiver in the upcoming draft.
Eric Decker may or may not be on the Jets roster in 2017, and if he is he will undoubtedly be one of the starters. In the three games he played in 2016 he had 9 receptions for 194 yards and 2 TD’s. But the depending on Decker’s injury and recovery he may be released. If that is the case, the Jets may go wide receiver earlier than most think in the 2017 NFL draft.
The Jets added Quinton Patton, formerly of the 49ers. He will bring a veteran presence and a solid game to this group. I think Patton makes the team as a 3rd/4th receiver this year.
This is truly an exciting group, but does it have enough top end talent for the Jets pass up potential starters in the upcoming draft? The Jets certainly have more pressing needs then WR, but you never know how the draft will fall! A potential number one receiver like Corey Davis or Mike Williams could make more sense than most think. The Jets will most likely be starting either Christian Hackenberg or Bryce Petty at QB this year, so what better way to help them grow than to add a top tier receiver to Enunwa and Anderson?