If you were to ask a NY Jets fan who the most underrated wide receiver in franchise history is most would probably say Wayne Chrebet.
After all, Chrebet went undrafted after playing his college football at Hofstra University. He also had to work his way up from the very bottom of the Jets wide receiver depth chart.
Of course, we now know that Chrebet would go on to play 11 seasons for the Jets and compile the second-most receptions in team history. His 580 catches trail only the great Don Maynard with 627.
However, there's another wide receiver in Jets history that is often overlooked for his achievements and contributions to the organization and that's none other than Jerricho Cotchery.
Jerricho Cotchery is an underrated player in NY Jets history.
Cotchery was drafted by the Jets in the fourth round of the 2004 NFL Draft. After a record-setting collegiate career at NC State which included 200 receptions and over 3,000 receiving yards, he was drafted as an under-the-radar pick by the green and white.
The former Wolfpack receiver did not generate much fanfare coming out of college given the fact that 15 other receivers were picked ahead of him in the draft. Despite his fourth-round selection, Cotchery would achieve far greater success than many of those players picked before him.
In his rookie season of 2004, Cotchery was primarily utilized as a kick returner and saw very limited action as a receiver. However, one of his greatest highlights with the NY Jets came in the season finale against the St. Louis Rams.
Cotchery would return a kickoff late in the game for 94 yards and a momentum-changing touchdown for the Jets.
Jerricho Cotchery started his first game for the Jets as a wide receiver in 2005 but it was 2006 when the gritty wideout would see his career take off.
Under then, new head coach Eric Mangini, Cotchery would become the starting wide receiver opposite Laveranues Coles and would make an immediate impact on the team. He would end the 2006 season with 82 receptions and 961 receiving yards.
In 2007, Cotchery would duplicate his success by once again catching 82 passes and accumulated a career-high 1,130 receiving yards. In fact, from 2006 through 2009 the reliable wideout would haul in a total of 292 passes and over 3,000 receiving yards.
The additions of Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards plus an assortment of nagging injuries would limit Cotchery's playing time over his final two seasons with Gang Green. However, Cotchery would still continue to make big plays when it mattered and excelled in his role as the third wide receiver.
In 2009 and 2010, Cotchery caught a combined total of 26 passes for 340 yards in six playoff games for the Jets. Perhaps his biggest postseason catch was against the New England Patriots in January of 2011.
With the Jets clinging to a 14-11 lead, Cotchery turned a short pass over the middle into a 58-yard gain that would eventually set up a Santonio Holmes touchdown.
The catch seemed to change the momentum of the game back into the Jets' favor and they would go on to defeat the Patriots and advance to the AFC Championship Game.
After 2010, Cotchery would leave the Jets and go on to play three seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers and then two more with the Carolina Panthers.
In his final three seasons, Cotchery would haul in 133 passes and accumulate over 1,500 receiving yards. All this was achieved while over the age of 30.
Jerricho Cotchery retired in 2015 and then spent three seasons as the wide receivers coach for the Carolina Panthers. Cotchery will be remembered in Jets history as a tough and dedicated player who always gave 100 percent and got the very most out of his abilities.
There is no greater play that exemplifies Cotchery's character than the overtime catch that he made in a 2010 game against the Cleveland Browns.
While running his route, Cotchery pulled up and starting limping on one leg. As a scrambling Mark Sanchez released the ball over the middle in Cotchery's direction, somehow the injured receiver was able to recover long enough and make a diving catch.
It was later revealed that Cotchery had suffered a severe groin strain prior to him making the gutsy reception.
While greater receivers have played for the NY Jets, the career of Jerricho Cotchery should not be forgotten. Cotchery was a true warrior on the field and carried himself with professionalism at all times.
When Rex Ryan coined the phrase "play like a Jet," he must have had the efforts of Jerricho Cotchery in mind.