Malachi Corley looking to break NY Jets' dreaded Day 2 WR curse

The Jets hope Malachi Corley can be different
Malachi Corley
Malachi Corley / Luke Hales/GettyImages

The NY Jets are understandably excited about rookie wide receiver Malachi Corley. After all, this is a player the team aggressively pursued on Day 2 of the 2024 NFL Draft, making multiple attempts to trade into the second round to grab him.

In the end, the Jets wound up landing Corley in the third round of this year's draft, and the team hopes he can go on to not only play an important role in his rookie season but serve as a foundational building block on offense moving forward.

Corley's dynamic YAC ability and developing skills as a receiver have Jets fans excited, but if the Western Kentucky product is going to find success at the NFL level, he's first going to have to overcome a decades-long curse affecting the franchise.

The Jets have repeatedly failed with their many attempts to target a wide receiver on Day 2 of the NFL Draft. Corley is hoping to overcome a curse that has long affected the organization.

The NY Jets hope Malachi Corley can overcome their WR draft curse

The Jets' recent history of drafting wide receivers in the second and third rounds reads more like a list of the team's most notable busts of the 21st century. Names like Stephen Hill and Devin Smith immediately come to mind.

In fact, the Jets drafted five wide receivers on Day 2 of the NFL Draft between the years 2012 and 2021. Those five players are Elijah Moore, Denzel Mims, ArDarius Stewart, Devin Smith, and Stephen Hill.

Quite astonishingly, Mims is the only one of those five to make it past his second year with the Jets. That's a horrific hit rate for a couple of rounds that are supposed to provide teams with genuine building blocks.

It's one thing to miss on players on Day 2 of the draft, but it's another thing to miss so bad that they're not even on your roster after just two seasons. Mims, meanwhile, was reduced to a bench warmer after his rookie season.

You have to go all the way back to the year 2000 to find the last time the Jets hit on a Day 2 wide receiver prospect, that being Jets legend Laveranues Coles in the third round.

Of course, past results with different coaching staffs and different regimes don't impact Corley or his future. Whether he succeeds or fails in the NFL, it will have nothing to do with the Jets' previous draft busts.

But it can be difficult for Jets fans to ignore history, especially with reports coming out of spring practices that Corley is working behind second-year undrafted free agent Xavier Gipson. The paranoia starts to set in.

Jets fans shouldn't expect Corley to enter the NFL and immediately become a star or even a starting-caliber wide receiver. Despite his explosiveness and playmaking ceiling, Corley is still working out the nuances of the wide receiver position.

He'll have an opportunity to earn the starting slot receiver job this summer, but even if he impresses in the preseason and carves out a role on offense, it's unlikely that he will be a prominent part of the passing game as a rookie.

Expectations should be curbed for Corley in 2024. For his rookie season to be considered a success, the Jets just need to see continued growth from him as a receiver while offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett hopefully finds ways to get him involved on offense.

It's unfair to saddle Corley with the "Deebo Samuel 2.0" label and the expectations that come with it, but it's equally unfair to liken him to failed Jets draft picks of yesteryear. Just let him be Malachi Corley.

This article is part of the "Summer Spotlight" series on The Jet Press, dedicated to highlighting individual players on the Jets roster throughout the summer. Stay tuned for more features as we provide in-depth profiles and insights on various Jets players before the season kicks off.

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