One of the consistent themes of the 2012 season for the New York Jets was everyone harping on the lack of talent at the offensive skill positions, especially the receiving corps. Part of blame can be attributed the lack of consistency from Mark Sanchez, but the case can be made that virtually no quarterback could operate effectively with such little talent. Wouldn't most teams in the NFL be at a talent deficit if their No. 1 wide receiver and top tight end were plagued by injuries? The Jets have more coming back at wide receiver than most people think.
Anyone watching the New York Jets after week four saw an offense that needed a jumpstart, seemingly missing talent at the wide receiver position. Of course, they were. Santonio Holmes went down with a Lisfranc injury in week four and missed the rest of the season. The team's leading receiver the past few seasons prior to 2012, Dustin Keller, was hampered by injuries
all season and never really got going. That forced rookie Stephen Hill, who also dealt with injury issues, and second year slot receiver Jeremy Kerley to deal with a lot more attention from opposing defenses.
The Jets weren't set to be an offensive powerhouse either way, but injuries greatly exacerbated their depth issues at wide receiver. Dustin Keller might walk, leaving the Jets scrambling at tight end, but there is a base of talent at wide receiver that suggests this group can grow into a formidable one.
Santonio Holmes is a known commodity. He's coming off a Lisfranc injury, but he's still a mid-level No. 1 wide receiver. Don't let people fool you by downplaying his talent and claiming that he's a No. 2. Santonio Holmes is supremely talented and is one of the best, most precise route runners in the NFL. He's a game breaker, which is why the Jets backed up the money truck for him. It hasn't paid off yet, but Santonio Holmes has plenty of high quality football ahead of him.
Stephen Hill is the key to the group. The thought last year was that by being split out across the field from Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill would likely see a ton of single coverage and be a physical mismatch against most cornerbacks in the NFL. In the six games during which he recorded catches, Stephen Hill totaled 21 receptions for 252 yards and three touchdowns. The issue is that he was held without a reception multiple times. Injuries played a role in that, as did the injury to Santonio Holmes, but consistency is the name of the game for Stephen Hill. A full offseason to improve should make a difference.
Jeremy Kerley is an ideal slot receiver. He's tough, has a knack for finding soft spots in the defense, and is a very good runner after the catch. He finished the season with 56 catches for 827 yards and two touchdowns. If he's flanked by Stephen Hill and Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Kerley can be a real problem for opposing defenses.
The questions arise after those three. Braylon Edwards could be back. The former Brown first round pick would fit in by either sharing time with Stephen Hill or as a spot player a fourth wide receiver. Braylon Edwards is not the same player he once was, but he is a former Pro Bowl wide receiver and red zone target.
That would give the Jets a pretty solid group through the first four spots on the depth chart. Finding a solid fifth receiver and either bringing back Dustin Keller or adding another tight end to join Jeff Cumberland would give the Jets a good selection of targets for their quarterback. Injuries underscored the depth issues the Jets had at wide receiver and forced some players that weren't quite ready into tough spots last season. There is more talent at the position than most realize.
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