Camp Countdown '08: Wide Receivers
While Laveranues Coles may still get the designation as the Jets top receiving option, he is really a number 2 WR at this stage and an injury concern. Coles in coming off a disastrous year with a career low 55 receptions and multiple injuries that forced him to miss games for the first time in his career. The Jets either need Coles to find the fountain of youth and catch close to 90 passes or they have to find another viable option in the passing game besides Jerricho Cotchery. Cotchery continued to show improvement in his game to where he would seem to be a lock to catch 80-85 passes in 2008, the only certainty at this position.
There is a crowded field of players to compete for the next important slot on the depth chart. Brad Smith is the biggest name from the group, but may lose his job as the third receiver in the offense. Smith, a fourth round draft pick, has had a hard time making the transition from QB to WR for the Jets. The Jets viewed Smith as somewhat of a triple threat that could line up as QB, RB, and WR, but he has been more or less ineffective in all three roles. 2008 is a major year for him to show improvement or be moved off the team. He will not be handed the job for 08. His main competition would look to be from Chansi Stuckey and Wallace Wright. Stuckey, a 7th round draft choice in 2007, impressed the organization before going down with injury. He has speed and may be able to stretch the field more than anyone else on the team. He received high praises from almost every observer in the offseason workouts and he will certainly get his chance this summer to not only earn a spot on the roster, but see significant playing time. The team loves Wright’s ability on special teams and he did find his way onto the field and make a few receptions in 2007. His attitude is something the coaches admire.
Beyond those players is a logjam of guys hoping to make the squad. The Jets drafted Marcus Henry in the 6th round so he is likely going to have a roster spot reserved for him unless he completely bombs in camp. He is the big target at 6’4” that the team has been missing for some time and could find some use in the red zone this year if he makes the team. Paul Raymond was signed as an UDFA out of Brown University and will push Stuckey for a roster spot. Raymond is small but was clocked under a 4.4 and could be used as a deep threat. David Ball and David Clowney were with the team in 2007 and will be trying to make the team again. Showing skills on special teams may help get them on the 53 man roster.
The Jets will carry at least 5, and more likely 6, receivers on the team. Coles and Cotchery are the only definite roster players, but it would be hard to imagine the Jets giving up on Smith or waiving one of their 2008 draft choices, so the roster competition would look to be for 2 spots amongst 6 players. If Stuckey is healthy it would seem to be his position to lose with Raymond being his likely replacement if he falters. Wright has a legitimate chance to be a starter if he plays well, but if not his special teams play would seem to make him the guy to beat for one of the last two spots. Ball was a late season addition off the Chicago Bears practice squad, has good hands, and could be a 4th receiver. He will have to catch everything in sight to make it. Clowney was waived by the Jets last season and would look to be the least likely to make the cut, but he has earned high praise in the offseason to get back into the competition. At the end of the day both Ball and Raymond look to be potential practice squad players come September, while Stuckey and Wright should both hold onto their spots on the active roster.