New York Jets: Who will ‘insert name here’ throw to in 2013?
Certainly the biggest issue for the New York Jets this offseason is the question of who is going win the quarterback competition. An anonymous source told The New York Daily News that the majority of the Jets players want Geno Smith to start. However, Nick Mangold recently contradicted that sentiment by saying the exact opposite, that the vast majority of the Jets locker room prefers Mark Sanchez. Whether it ends up being Geno Smith or Mark Sanchez, a big question on the minds of Jets Nation is, who will [insert name here] throw to?
Last season, the Jets were plagued with injuries on both sides of the ball, but for the already struggling offense, the injuries there seemed more detrimental. It seemed like there was no one to throw to. Santonio Holmes went down. Dustin Keller went down. Stephen Hill went down. It was like a curse.
The Jets currently have 14 wide receivers listed on their roster and six tight ends. Of those 20 players, obviously some will have an impact and others won’t. This article will focus on the wide receivers and tight ends that have a realistic chance at being solid players for the Jets and the players that are causing some concern for this team, as well as listing the rookies whose futures remain to be seen.
Jeremy Kerley, WR
Kerley led the Jets in receptions in 2012 with 56 receptions for 827 yards and two touchdowns. He also returned a punt for a touchdown during the Jets’ home season opener against the Buffalo Bills. Let’s not forget about his 42-yard throw to Clyde Gates in Week 16 against the San Diego Chargers. A Jack-of-all-trades player that can make something out of nothing—on a team that doesn’t have a lot—may come in handy. It’s nice to know that if Marty Mornhinweg wants to mix it up and throw in a Wildcat play every so often, the Jets do have the realistic ability to do that.
Ben Obomanu, WR
The Jets signed Obomanu on May 30. He was taken by the Seahawks in the seventh round of the 2006 draft. He has a career total of 87 receptions for 1,209 yards and seven touchdowns. Last season, he recorded four receptions for 58 yards and zero touchdowns. But that was on the Seahawks, who have Sidney Rice and Golden Tate. On the Jets, where there is considerably less explosiveness at this position, he will be a good third-string wide receiver.
Clyde Gates, WR
Last season, Gates recorded 16 receptions for 224 yards, but only played in 11 games due to head and shoulder injuries. Unfortunately, like so many other Jets receivers, Gates is dealing with an injury—a hamstring injury in his case.
Jordan White, WR
During last season’s train camping, Rex Ryan described him as someone who has “has great hands and concentration and he’ll fight for contested balls.” He ended up playing in three games last season and caught one ball for 13 yards during Week 17’s debacle against the Buffalo Bills.
Konrad Reuland, TE
Reuland was signed by the San Francisco 49ers in 2011 as an undrafted free agent. He didn’t see any playing time while he was there. He played in 15 games and started in three of them. He recorded 11 receptions for 83 yards. He is mostly a blocker.
Jeff Cumberland, TE
Cumberland played in 15 games last season and recorded 29 receptions for 359 yards and three touchdowns. He’s certainly no Gronkowski, but then again, who is? Rex Ryan recently stated that Cumberland is in fact the starting tight end. He is currently listed as such on the depth chart. He was amongst the receivers that got ripped by Rex Ryan for dropping the ball during minicamp.
Hayden Smith, TE
Smith is a converted rugby player. Although Smith did see some playing time last season, he spent most of last season on the practice squad just learning the game. He is massive at 6’6” and 255 pounds—and he’s incredibly athletic. He apparently impressed during the OTAs. It would be sweet if an under-the-radar Australian rugby player that just took up football a year ago ended up being an impact player for this team.
Kellen Winslow, TE
Winslow was signed by the Jets on June 14. He was the sixth overall pick in the 2004 draft, taken by the Cleveland Browns. His career stats are 438 receptions for 4,848 yards and 23 touchdowns. His career in Cleveland was somewhat tumultuous. Early into his rookie year, he had a season-ending leg injury. His following season was a waste as well, as he was in a motorcycle accident during the offseason. The accident resulted in a torn ACL and staph infection. He had successful 2006 and 2007 seasons and was even a Pro Bowler in 2007. In 2008, Winslow suffered from another staph infection and had a public tiff with the Browns’ general manager. He was later traded to the Tamp Bay Buccaneers, where he led the team in receptions during all three of his seasons. Fast forward to June 2013 when he was invited to attend the Jets’ minicamp, where it was said that he impressed John Idzik and Rex Ryan. As long as Winslow can stay healthy, he will be a definite upgrade at the tight end position and could be a playmaker.
Santonio Holmes may not be ready in time for Week 1, never mind training camp. He is still recovering from his Grade 4 Lisfranc injury. We may complain about his attitude and personality, but when it comes down to it, we do need him on the field. That might be a tough pill to swallow for some people, but it’s true. He has the experience and when healthy, is the best receiver on the roster. There is a real chance that he could start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
Hill is still semi-recovering from knee surgery. There was some swelling there that hindered him during the organized team activities, although reports have surfaced recently that state that the swelling is gone. Okay. Great. Really, that’s great. But there is still the problem we saw with him all last season: he has an awful lot of trouble catching the ball for a wide receiver. Everyone remembers that awful drop in New England, that had he caught it, the Jets probably would have won the game. Whoever ends up starting, the rookie quarterback or the struggling veteran quarterback, neither one can fully trust the guy that can’t catch the ball even when it hits him in the numbers. It’s such a disappointment for a player that the Jets traded up for in the second round of the 2012. Here’s to hoping that his bad hands were just rookie mistakes.
Last, but not least, the rookies. The St. Louis Rams caused some havoc for the Jets during this draft. They traded up in the first round and selected Tavon Austin, who otherwise probably would have been selected by the Jets. The Jets’ front office was just trying to save face when they said that they got everyone they wanted. Austin would have been that situation when need meets best player available. The Jets ended up not drafting a single wide receiver or tight end but have instead signed some undrafted free agents. Here they are along with their college stats.
Marcus Davis, WR
As a Virginia Tech Hokie, Davis recorded 105 receptions for 1,827 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Zach Rogers, WR
Rogers recorded 63 receptions for 906 yards and nine touchdowns as a Tennessee Volunteer.
Ryan Spadola, WR
A New Jersey native, Spadola recorded 232 receptions for 3611 yards and 24 touchdowns as a Lehigh Mountain Hawk.
K.J. Stroud, WR
Stroud played at Rutgers during his freshman and sophomore years and had 18 receptions for 169 yards during that time. He then transferred to Bethune-Cookman where he recorded 33 receptions for 423 yards and two touchdowns.
Chris Pantale, TE
At Boston College, Pantale had 98 receptions for 986 yards and seven touchdowns.
Mike Shanahan, TE
At Pitt, Shanahan had 159 receptions for 2276 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Angie Kozak is the New York Jets writer for The Penalty Flag. Angie has had a NY Jets season ticket for 13-straight seasons and counting. She graduated from Penn State University in 2010 with a degree in Communications. Although a lifelong diehard Jet fan, Angie can be outspokenly critical of her beloved Jets. Contact her on Twitter @Angie_Kozak.