An in-depth look into NY Jets rookie WR Malachi Corley

What can Jets fans expect from the YAC king?
Western Kentucky v Auburn
Western Kentucky v Auburn / Michael Chang/GettyImages

After trading down and selecting an offensive lineman in the first round, Joe Douglas and Jets leadership turned their attention to a pass catcher in Western Kentucky's malachi Corley. Lacking a second-round pick that was given up in the trade for Rodgers, the Jets were forced to be active in the trade market to get the player that they wanted.

After unsuccessfully trying to trade into the second round, the Jets found a trading partner in the Carolina Panthers for the first pick in the third round, 65th overall. Considering how many teams were after him, the Jets should view him as an absolute steal.

What can Jets fans expect from the YAC king? Let’s take a deeper look into his collegiate career, combine results, expert comparisons, and more.

NY Jets WR Malachi Corley scouting report

Measurables and achievements

Corley’s measurables illustrate the type of player he is: a big, physical receiver who seeks out contact. At 5-11 and weighing 215 pounds, Corley is a compact and strong runner when given the football.

As a two-year starter, Corley had amassed over 2,000 receiving yards on 180 receptions and 22 receiving touchdowns in 26 games. A majority of those 2,000 yards were gained after the catch, hence the nickname YAC (yards after catch) King.

In 2022, Corley was credited with 975 YAC on 1,293 receiving yards, meaning a massive 75% of his yards came after the catch. Missed and broken tackles are a common occurrence when Corley is thrown the ball.

He notched 40 broken tackles, which helped lead to his 9.65 YAC/reception in 2022. In 2023, his YAC/reception dropped slightly to 8.6, but still is an impressive number. These eyebrow-raising stats helped him earn back-to-back First-Team All-Conference USA honors.

While Western Kentucky doesn’t play the level of competition some other highly drafted wide receivers have, physicality is physicality, and Corley is sure to bring that aggressive energy to the Jets. He will be an instant infusion of offensive explosiveness, providing a much-needed boost in the Jets passing game, who ranked third to last in receiving yards per game in 2023.

Draft Combine and Prospect Ratings

As a part of’s draft coverage, they assign prospect grades to each player at the combine. Corley received a 6.35, which translates to them perceiving he will eventually be a plus starter. Overall, he ranked as the 6th highest WR, behind Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers, Rome Odunze, Brian Thomas Jr., and Ladd McConkey.

Analysts note his physicality and playmaking ability with the ball in his hands as strengths. A part of that playmaking ability is his vision as a runner and cutback ability. His consensus weaknesses are route running, vision as a route runner, and contested catch rate (27% career).

He has a 5% collegiate career drop rate overall, meaning he catches the ball when he is open. Most of his catches were on plays such as wide receiver screens and quick hits. His contested drop rate could be due to many factors, including his route running and the level of quarterback play he was dealing with at Western Kentucky.

In terms of route-running, the hope is that the Jets coaches will help him with his footwork and create crisp, clean routes that create separation from defensive backs.

Western Kentucky wasn’t asking him to run complex routes, so it is yet to be determined just how much of a weakness his route-running ability actually is. If Corley can create separation on a route, then you can guarantee he’s going to get more yards after the catch.

Player comparisons

The hype of the draft pick and the excitement that followed was due to a singular player comparison that has Jets fans salivating. NFL has Malachai Corley’s player comparison as Deebo Samuel. Deebo was selected in the 2019 draft from the University of South Carolina as the 36th overall pick and has amassed over 4,000 yards in 5 seasons, alongside 19 TDs and 2,679 YAC.

As prospects, Corley and Deebo are very similar and were given 6.35 and 6.40 grades, respectively. Deebo’s best year came in 2021, where in his third year, he tallied 1,405 receiving yards and 778 yards after the catch. Roughly half his yards came after the catch. If Corley can replicate these numbers in his rookie year, the Jets and their fans will be thrilled.

Bleacher Report has Corley’s player comparison as “Budget Golden Tate”. A Super Bowl champion with the Seattle Seahawks in 2014, Tate was selected to one Pro Bowl and is credited with 46 touchdowns. Not wholly sure what the ‘budget’ portion of the comparison is trying to convey, but it may be that the Jets got a steal at the top of the third round.

Both Golden Tate and Deebo Samuel were taken high in the second round. It could mean that they see him as a lesser version of Golden Tate, who has three 1,000-yard receiving seasons in his 11 seasons. Either way, it is up to the Jets and Corley to prove any doubters wrong.

Perhaps Corley’s biggest hurdle to overcome with the Jets will be the offensive play-calling. But given that Aaron Rodgers has offered his guest house and that Corley’s intends on taking him up on the offer, Jets fans can rest assured that means a rapport between the two.

On gamedays, be sure to keep an eye on Rodgers signaling hot routes to Corley when the former identifies a favorable matchup. Then sit back and enjoy the missed and broken tackles left in the wake of the YAC king.