NY Jets: Initial grade and analysis for the Keelan Cole signing

NY Jets, Keelan Cole Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
NY Jets, Keelan Cole Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports /

The NY Jets have made an effort to completely revamp their wide receiver corps this offseason. And that continued on Thursday with the signing of former Jacksonville Jaguars’ wideout Keelan Cole.

Cole joins Corey Davis as the additions the Jets have made at the wide receiver positions during free agency. And combined, the duo should help to bolster a wide receiver group that was one of the worst in football a year ago.

While Davis might receive most of the hype, Cole shouldn’t be overlooked either. The 27-year-old has been an integral part of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ offense over the last four seasons serving as a reliable option in the passing game.

Signed by the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent out of of Kentucky Wesleyan, Cole broke out in his rookie season actually leading his team in receiving with 42 catches for 748 yards.

His production dipped a little in the subsequent seasons, due in part to a lackluster Jacksonville passing attack. But he re-emered in 2020 and put together his best season since 2017 when he hauled in a career-high 55 catches for 642 yards and five touchdowns.

Cole is more than just depth — there’s some legitimate upside to his game. And the Jets got him at a very reasonable price too.

How does Keelan Cole fit with the NY Jets?

Cole is a versatile player who the Jaguars utilized both in the slot and on the boundary. In 2020, Cole lined up in the slot for a total of 534 snaps and outside for 243 snaps. Earlier in his career, the splits were opposite, however.

The Jaguars used Cole more out wide early in his NFL career before turning him into more of a slot threat in 2019 and 2020. Expect the Jets to make use of him all over the offensive formation.

Cole has passable speed with a catch radius that rivals most NFL players, even though he stands at just 6-foot-1, 194 pounds. Of course, he’s perhaps most known for his highlight-reel, one-handed grab against the New England Patriots back in 2018.

CATCH OF THE YEAR BY @Air4Cole #DUUUVAL pic.twitter.com/8bdqToNErD

— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) September 16, 2018

Again, he isn’t the fastest player, running just a 4.59 40-yard dash at his pro day (the Division-II wideout wasn’t invited to the Combine). He doesn’t possess elite athletic traits, but he makes up for it with his route-running, sticky hands, and separation skills.

Three traits that should help him succeed in a Mike LaFleur offense.

Cole is also a highly-regarded special-teams player having played nearly 40 percent of special-teams snaps in Jacksonville last year. He also served as one of their primary return men, even taking a 91-yard punt return to the house in 2020.

Keelan Cole is more than just depth, and it’s unlikely the Jets use him in that way. With two seasons of over 640 yards under his belt, Cole is a very capable young receiver who would likely be a starter on a handful of roster across the NFL.

He had his fair share of suitors, making the one-year, $5.5 million contract the Jets signed him to quite the steal.

NY Jets: 3 high-profile free agents the team could still sign. Next

This could become one of those signings we talk about in November as one of the best moves of the offseason.

Grade: A-