AFC EAST WR CORPS OFF-SEASON MOVES AND HOW DO THEY GRADE OUT?
After a less than thrilling offseason so far when it comes to pass catchers in the AFC EAST Division it is pretty clear which one is the best at his respected position in a competitive pool of young talented pups hungry to redeem, and in some cases flat out prove who they really are. In the following article we will take an in depth look into the wide receiver stables of all 4 organizations as of date with the start of NFL Training Camps & The NFL Season looming.
NEW YORK JETS After providing the team with 4 years of their most consistent and productive pass catcher since Brandon Marshall, Robby Anderson a former undrafted free agent bolted for greener pastures in Charlotte, North Carolina. Anderson accounted for 5 of the units only 12tds on the season in 2019. Another 6 came from the solid veteran hands of Jamison Crowder who has 2 years remaining on a 3yr deal worth $28.5mil with a potential out for both sides in 2021. The Jets did take care of the need for a big, athletic receiver on the perimeter by snatching up Denzel Mims from Baylor with the No.59 pick in the Draft. Mims undoubtedly has all the physical tools to be a legit #1 on the outside for the Jets, but with questions about the offensive line gelling, Sam Darnold’s overall psyche, and the overall talent & veteran support Mims has in his meeting room it could turn out to be a steep learning curve for the former Baylor Bear. Josh Doctson a former 1st round pick of the Washington Redskins was brought in at a reasonable ticket of $10mil over the next 4yrs, it seems Doctson was never quite able to find his way after missing 14 games in 2016 with an Achilles injury which was his rookie season. He signed on with the Minnesota Vikings in 2019 but made no game appearances. The team in another far reach signed Breshad Perriman son of former Detroit Lion wide receiver Brett Perriman who is another failed 1st rounder via Baltimore Ravens in 2015. The current state of the New York Jets on the perimeter is full of redeem, stay afloat, and young hope stories, but with a big 3rd year jump from Franchise QB Sam Darnold this ragtag bunch could turn out to be enough to give the run game a respectable break. GRADE C-
MIAMI DOLPHINS DeVante Parker is a budding Superstar finally and consistently showing why he was a highly coveted 1st round pick back in 2015, and drew comparisons to AJ Green. He gives you everything you can ask for in a #1 minus the top end speed Similar to Kenny Golladay. Big body, Agile, Strong Hands, Physical to and through the catch point, and can run every branch on the route tree. After Parker things get kind of murky with Albert Wilson who should be a dynamite slot, instead being tossed outside way to often to climb DB’s, and Jakeem Grant an exceptionally fast and explosive threat every time he touches the rock. While plenty are down on Grant due to his inability to truly become a dependable offensive threat I continue to believe he has too much value on Special Teams and upside offensively if given the correct opportunities to fizzle out on. Seems like he would be a perfect match for the guy they drafted at NO.5 but hey. The Dolphins are a very intriguing team for me overall for 2020 and the receiving corp currently has some good playmakers. With preseason cuts, and Cap Casualties on the way over the next few months they should have opportunities to add in my opinion a solid #2 option. That would slide everyone else into their proper spots on the depth chart. GRADE B-
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS Could turn out to be the best corp in the division this upcoming season. I do not share the same sentiments on this group that it seemed at times last season the entire football world did. Some wide receivers are just better in an environment that’s conducive to their natural skill set. In other words that 2019 corp probably would have been better under Aaron Rodgers. No slight on Tom Brady, but that offense was completely predicated off quickness, angles, constant on the fly thinking, and adjustments. Not necessarily the easiest system to pick up especially as a wide eyed rookie. Green Bay allows their guys on the perimeter to be “Athletes” which is a philosophy that young wide receivers tend to thrive in while they’re learning and adjusting to the NFL game. Which brings me to 2nd year wideout N’Keal Harry who struggled mildly all of 2019. 6’4, 225 lbs with insane agility, body control, and leaping ability can be completely abused in the wrong system, or under the wrong coach. Receivers with Harry’s skillset normally aren’t requested to do what New England expected out of him, it’s almost as if they picked him knowing exactly what he was with the intentions to turn him into someone he was not. Hitches, Slants, Flys, Deep Outs, & Post! Asking for anything else is silly. More than likely this should be an aging Julian Edelman’s final season in Gillette Stadium. Edelman who turned 34 on May 22nd actually started and played in 14 of 17 games (Playoffs Included) in 2019 and caught 100 balls, but age & injuries catch up to even the best and Edleman is definitely on the wrong side of the franchise loyalty. Even though The Pats just gave him an extension a year ago performance and finance dont always coincide, and we have seen teams cut ties with players over more money and younger age. Jakobi Meyers is a promising young deep threat going into his 2nd year, and Marqise Lee was added via free agency from the Jaguars. GRADE B+
BUFFALO BILLS Everything starts with the acquisition of Pro Bowler Stefon Diggs. Diggs gives them a viable legit go to guy for Josh Allen, and in somewhat of a similar way with the Miami Dolphins bring order to the depth chart. The Bills gave up a lot for Diggs in the form of a 2020 1st, 2020 5th, 2020 6th, and a 2021 4th rd pick package. If he turns out to be the key that unlocks not only Josh Allen, but the Bills window it’s all worth it. If the offense continues to struggle in the downfield passing game, Josh doesn’t improve completion percentage wise, and the Bills underachieve then we could see an instant replay of what transpired in Minnesota, and the trade could go down as one of the worst in the last 20 years. Even at 30 John Brown can still peel the top of the defense, and give you plenty after the catch, while Cole Beasley is still solid underneath at the age of 31. While I do expect good things out of the Bills receiving position in 2020 I still cant help but to believe the offense would have been better suited finding a less expensive receiving threat at Tight End over a glamour trade at Wide Receiver. GRADE B-