The NY Jets will miss the presence of Quincy Enunwa in 2020, and these three wide receivers could be asked to step up in his absence.
The NY Jets were already set to enter the 2020 season with a pretty thin wide receiver corps, and the news that broke on Tuesday certainly didn’t help matters.
The Jets announced two days ago that both Quincy Enunwa and Josh Bellamy had been placed on the reserve/PUP list and that their seasons were effectively over. An already shallow receiver unit had just lost two of their most experienced receivers.
Now, the Enunwa news was far from unexpected given that the former sixth-round pick hadn’t been cleared for football activities. And it’s not as if Bellamy’s absence will be a huge loss to the offense.
That said, the Jets will need some players to step up this year amidst one of the weakest position groups in the NFL. Fortunately, while the position lacks many sure things, there is no shortage of promise and potential.
If all goes right, the Jets could have a significantly better receiver corps than most are projecting right now. The only issue is that that’s very unlikely to happen.
The volatility at the position is very high.
With that, let’s take a look at three wide receivers who could possibly step up in Enunwa’s absence.
Next: 3. Lawrence Cager
3. Lawrence Cager
The Jets surprised many by using just one of their nine draft picks this year on a wide receiver. In what was considered to be one of the deepest receivers classes of all time, the Jets came away with just one player at one of their biggest positions of need.
But undrafted rookie Lawrence Cager has a chance to be that de-facto second draft pick.
Cager battled consistency issues at the University of Miami for three years before transferring to Georgia for his senior season. And the big-bodied possession receiver was off to a great start before two separate injuries hampered what could have been a great season.
Cager finished the year with 33 catches for 476 yards and four touchdowns in nine games played, but the chemistry he developed with quarterback Jake Fromm was evident.
At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, Cager is a massive outside target using his size and physicality to wrestle the ball away from defensive backs in jump-ball situations. He plays with average speed, but he more than makes up for it with his outstanding catch radius and excellent hands.
Now, he isn’t going to blow anyone away with his separation skills. And he seems pretty locked into the “X” receiver role in an offense — he isn’t exactly the most versatile player.
But if Cager could carve out a role on special teams, he may be able to stick with the Jets and serve as the physical red-zone threat the Jets have been searching for.
Don’t be surprised to see Cager on the final roster and seeing considerable snaps on offense in 2020.
Next: 2. Josh Doctson
2. Josh Doctson
The Jets took a flier on another big-bodied, possession receiver in the form of former first-round pick Josh Doctson. But much like Cager, there’s no guarantee that he makes the roster.
Doctson was signed by the Jets in late February after he was released by the Minnesota Vikings back in November. The 27-year-old played in just one game with the Vikings last year and didn’t record a single statistic while battling another injury.
Injuries and inconsistencies have been the story of Doctson’s career to this point. The TCU product missed almost all of his rookie season with an Achilles injury but bounced back with two healthy seasons in 2017 and 2018.
Unfortunately, his production never matched his draft status as after two consecutive seasons with just over 500 receiving yards, the Redskins released him before his rookie deal could even expire.
After a brief stint in Minnesota which amounted to nothing, Doctson has a chance to turn his career around with a Jets team desperately needing receiver help.
Doctson was praised for his fluid route-running in college, but we haven’t really seen that come to fruition in the NFL. The former first-round pick has struggled to separate in the pros and still has difficulty beating press coverage despite his physicality.
It doesn’t help that he isn’t the fastest receiver either.
But the potential is clearly there for Doctson to carve out a career as a successful pro. He has good hands and is very physical when the ball is in the air. Much like Cager, his catch radius is outstanding despite being three inches shorter.
This will likely be Doctson’s last chance to prove to the NFL that he could still be a viable producer. And on a barren Jets roster, he’s being given a golden opportunity.
Next: 1. Denzel Mims
1. Denzel Mims
No receiver will be under more pressure to succeed early on than Denzel Mims, and that likely isn’t a very fair scenario.
The 2020 second-round pick was considered a developmental project coming out of Baylor with his route-running and consistency needing plenty of work. Unfortunately, he’s likely being thrust into the worst position possible.
Given the current situation in the world, he won’t have a proper training camp to get adjusted to the NFL and learn a new playbook. And to make matters worse, he’ll be asked to be a Week 1 starter — a role he would have ideally been able to ease into.
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But if we’re talking talent, perhaps no player is better situated to find success in the NFL.
Mims combines blazing 4.38 speed with a 6-foot-3, 207-pound frame that made him one of the most dangerous jump-ball, possession threats in the class. He has the perfect blend of size, speed, and athleticism that gives him All-Pro potential at the next level.
Of course, reaching his ceiling may take some time, but the Jets will need to see significant strides from Mims in year one.
With the proper coaching and development, there’s no reason that Mims can’t become a reliable starter by the end of his first year with even bigger things planned for his sophomore NFL season.
Look for the Jets to give Mims every opportunity to become the team’s top target in the passing game by year’s end.
And if he could do that, then we won’t be talking about this receiver group in the same way come December.