Is the Answer At Wide Receiver On The New York Jets Roster?
Aug 4, 2014; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets free safetyAntonio Allen
(39) defends wide receiverStephen Hill
(84) during drills at training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
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Wide Receiver has been a problem for the New York Jets for quite some time now. John Idzik made some moves to try to shore up the position, but the injury bug hit the new draft class. Currently, the Jets have Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley as their guaranteed veteran starters. Assuming Kerley will man the slot this season, that has left the #2 slot opposite Decker up for grabs. The Jets had hoped that one of the three wide receivers they drafted this season would be able to step up and man the position, but it hasn’t worked out as planned. Now the Jets need to find an answer, as they are headed into their third preseason game and the opening kickoff looms just off the horizon. Do the Jets have that potential #2 on the roster? They may, but is it good enough to spark the offense? I personally don’t think so, but they do have some interesting options.
David Nelson has made his case for the job this summer in Cortland and now at Florham Park. Nelson is listed as 6’5″ and 215 lbs. At 27, he’s spent three season’s with the Buffalo Bills, and a short stint with the Cleveland Browns before being picked up by the Jets last October. His career totals aren’t spectacular, but with 44 games, 130 receptions, and 1,465 yds, he does bring some experience. Nelson has the size to handle the outside, but with a 4.54/40, he lacks the elite speed you’d like to see. Nelson apparently has worked out some good chemistry with Geno Smith, you could see it last year, and apparently it hass continued this spring. Nelson could make an adequate outside option this season; he’s consistent, and with his size could become a valuable tool in the red zone. He’s not a top NFL receiver, but he may be the Jets best option.
Greg Salas has had a hot hand through camp as well. The emergence of Salas as a sure handed weapon has to be pleasing to the Jets’ coaching staff. The Jets list Salas as 6’2″ and 21o lbs, and he ran a 4.53 at the 2011 combine before being drafted in the fourth round of the NFL draft by the Rams. He spent time on the Patriots and Eagles practice squad before being signed by the Jets in 2013. He led the Jets in receptions in the second preseason game against the Bengals, and has eight receptions for 143 yds in preseason games thus far. While Salas’ development has been a pleasant surprise this season, he’s still reportedly fighting for a roster spot however. It should be noted that Salas is more of a slot type receiver, but a move to the outside might be productive.
Clyde Gates is another option for the #2 spot. Gates is in his final year of his contract after spending two seasons with the Jets one season with the Dolphins. Gates is now 28 yrs old, his career to date has been less than spectacular. Drafted by the Dolphins, Gates boasts 4.37 speed but has been inconsistent and ended the season on injured reserve in 2013. Gates has reportedly played better this summer, but it’s hard to imagine him winning the starting job. If he somehow can put it all together before the opener, his speed would be a welcome addition.
Stephen Hill is the guy the Jets have been waiting on to lock down this position. Sadly Hill is flirting with the “bust” moniker more than he’s made a bid for the job at hand. Hill was drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft, he’s listed as 6’4″ and 215 lbs. Hill was highly touted by the Jets, as his size and 4.36 speed were supposed to make him a legitimate deep threat. Hill has failed to develop to date, his routes while improved still are less than precise and his hands have proven he struggles to catch the ball. Hill has yet to learn to learn how to use his size to get open, and when he does, that he can not catch the ball with his hands, allowing the ball into his body. Hill is in the final year of his contract, and if he makes the roster, he’ll need to perform big if he wants any chance of a future with the Jets!
The Jets need for one of these guys to step up and win this job. Both Nelson and Salas are reportedly having good camps, both are likely to make the final roster. The Jets have options at wide receiver, with the addition of two practice squad slots this year, they will be able to stash the newer additions, hoping for better performance as the year progresses. Currently I think the options are less than ideal however, these guys may become dependable receivers, but they lack the tools to properly compliment Decker on the other side. The Jets need an explosive receiver to go a long with Decker and Kerley, a legitimate deep threat would be ideal. I believe the Jets would be well served picking up a veteran receiver off the wire, or looking at a trade to bring one in. What are your thoughts on the Jet receivers? Should they be looking outside of the roster? Let me know…I want to hear what you think!