With so much off-season attention being paid to what the New York Jets are going to do with the third overall pick in this year’s draft, one topic that hasn’t gained as much attention as it should is the group of targets GM Mike Maccagnan has assembled over the past couple of seasons that could lead to one of the more explosive offenses in the NFL if things go even moderately well at quarterback.
Whether it’s Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold or Josh Allen lining up under center over the next few seasons for Gang Green, the bottom line is that whoever the quarterback is, they’ll be set up to succeed every time they drop back.
By signing free agent wide receiver Terrelle Pryor and teaming him with Robby Anderson, the Jets have a pair of outside receivers who come in at 6′ 3′ and 6′ 4” respectively, and both run the 40 in under 4.4 seconds as Pryor was clocked at 4.38 at his pro day, and Anderson ran an even more impressive 4.34 at his.
As any NFL fan who follows the game can tell you, 40 times don’t mean a thing if you can’t get open and catch the ball, but both Anderson and Pryor have shown they can do that. Just two seasons ago with the Cleveland Browns, playing with the likes of Cody Kessler, Robert Griffin III and even Josh McCown for a few games, Pryor posed a stat line of 77/1,007/4, despite the weak QB room.
Then of course, there’s Anderson. An undrafted free agent out of Temple who has had some issues off the field, but on it, has been an eye-opening player from the day he arrived at Florham Park. In two seasons with the Jets, Anderson has only scratched the surface in terms of how productive he can be, and that has been due to his QB play more than it has been his ability to beat opposing cornerbacks.
Some of the best corners in the NFL have been victimized by Anderson’s explosiveness and struggled to keep up with a receiver who narrowly missed his first 1,000 yard season in 2017. The 1,000 yard is a mark Anderson would have likely reached if not for Josh McCown missing the season’s final few weeks. Even still, Anderson finished the season with 63 catches for 941 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Try to find another NFL team with two proven receivers checking in at 6′ 3” or more, both running legitimate sub 4.4’s who have shown they can produce in the NFL and you’d be hard-pressed.
With the amount of stress Pryor and Anderson should be able to put on opposing safeties deep down the field, operating underneath should offer ample opportunities for the team’s receivers, running backs and tight ends.
One receiver who should have room to work with out of the slot, the H-back position or tight end, depending on where he lines up, is the returning Quincy Enunwa who missed all of last season following surgery for a bulging disk. Whether or not Eunwa will be the same physically punishing player he was pre-surgery remains to be seen, but given his size and 4.45 40 time, it’s safe to assume that if he’s a full go, he can be a force for the Jets as he’ll draw plenty of match-ups against inferior linebackers and lower-tier cornerbacks.
Remember, Enunwa did manage to produce 857 yards and 4 touchdowns on 58 receptions just two years ago as a de facto no. 1 and 2 target with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Bryce Petty under center. If and when he’s the third or fourth option, things could get interesting.
When the Jets deploy four and five receiver sets, it will be any combination of the three receivers listed above, teamed with Jermaine Kearse, who had a career year last season (65/810/5) and possibly one last year’s two rookie receivers in Ardarius Stewart and Chad Hansen.
Another potential under the radar difference maker has recently been brought in as well. The team added former Vikings free agent receiver Charles Johnson last week. Johnson hasn’t been heard from all that much over the past few seasons, but when targeted in 2014, he was a productive role player, pulling in 31 balls for 475 yards and 2 touchdowns. In terms of the track team this receiving corps is shaping up to be, the 6′ 2” Johnson can hold his own, having been clocked at 4.39 at his pro day coming out of Grand Valley State.
Yes, the Jets are currently carrying 16 receivers on the roster, but the group we’ve listed contains those players most likely to have an impact in 2018, giving their shiny new quarterback a plethora of options to throw to on game day, putting the offense in position to be far better than it has in year’s past.
Add to these receivers the fact that all of their running backs are adept at catching the ball out of the backfield and a tight end group, that while inexperienced, may have quite a bit of room to make plays in the passing game, and it may not take as long for a young quarterback to make plays and develop than many expect. We can only hope.