Jets 2021 Position Breakdown: Corey Davis headlines refreshingly deep group of wide receivers

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Elijah Moore/Denzel Mims/Corey Davis Treated Image
Elijah Moore/Denzel Mims/Corey Davis Treated Image

Heading into the 2021 season, the Jets have made a series of moves to improve the state of their roster and overall depth, but are they ready to compete for a playoff spot?

In this series, we’ll break down the depth chart for every Jets position group. This time, we’ll go in-depth on the wide receivers…

Projected Depth Chart

X Receiver: Corey Davis, Denzel Mims
Z Receiver: Jamison Crowder, Keelan Cole
Slot receiver: Elijah Moore, Braxton Berrios
Depth: Matt Cole, Vyncint Smith, Manasseh Bailey, Lawrence Cager, Josh Malone, DJ Montgomery

-Key additions/losses: Drafted Moore, signed Davis and Cole. Allowed UFA Breshad Perriman to leave.

- Top Performer in 2020:
Crowder -- 59 receptions, 699 yards, six touchdowns.

- 2020 end of season rank via PFF: Davis, in 8th, was the only Jet in the top 25.

What Jets WRs have going for them

The Jets were criticized for not putting enough receiving talent around Sam Darnold, but they had some bad luck with injuries.

Having signed a big-money extension after the 2018 season, Quincy Enunwa barely played after that. In addition, Perriman -- who the team brought in to replace Robby Anderson after the 2019 season -- also struggled to stay on the field. However, this year’s group has been fortified, so hopefully there is enough depth to overcome any injuries.

In Cole, Davis and Crowder, the team has three proven veterans that have been productive with all three catching over 50 passes last season. Then, in Mims and Moore, they have two youngsters who could develop into potential stars. Davis was given a three-year, $45 million deal to lead the group.

Key concern: Lack of true No. 1 receiver

While the Jets potentially have five players who could be starter-level performers, doubters will suggest that none of them bring the kind of star quality that Zach Wilson will need from his top target if he’s to develop quickly.

Moore and Mims could become that kind of player once they realize their full potential. However, it may be premature to expect them to lead the team this early in their career. Davis, Crowder and Cole have all had periods where they’ve been extremely productive, but none has been consistent enough to put together a thousand-yard season, although Davis came close last year despite missing a couple of games.

That could be attributable to some poor quarterback play in each case, though.

Player who must step up in 2021: Denzel Mims

Mims showed flashes last year, as he made some highlight film grabs. However, he missed too much time due to injury and, even when healthy, had a tendency to go missing for long periods. He has the size and athleticism to be a difference-maker and his ability to make contested catches could be a good fit with Wilson, who is not afraid to throw into coverage and can put the ball where the receiver can make a play on it.

With better gameplans from the coaching staff and improved quarterback play, hopefully Mims can start to display the kind of consistency he needs to prove himself worthy of a long-term starter role.

Biggest camp battle: Jamison Crowder vs. Elijah Moore

As Crowder enters his final season, his role seems uncertain with Moore having been drafted early in the second round, clearly with a view to becoming the team’s slot receiver of the future. Will they compete directly for playing time in the slot though?

You’ll note Crowder has been listed as the starting “Z” receiver above. That’s because the Jets will presumably want to get their best players on the field, so they could look to use him on the outside more this season.

There’s been some speculation that Crowder could be traded if the Jets head into the season with everyone healthy, but the team may opt to hedge their bets by keeping him in spite of his high cap number while Moore develops.

Overall 2021 outlook

Any of the top five could be a go-to guy for the Jets in 2021, perhaps based on the situation or who has the greater mismatch. In all, it’s a versatile group with good flexibility and potential. That includes the underrated Cole, who has been overlooked by a lot of people despite the fact the Jets guaranteed him $5 million for the 2021 season, which is more than Perriman got to be their number one option last year.

If the group does stay healthy, they’ll be one of the deeper units in the league, even if they do lack that alpha receiver to lead the way. If Moore or Mims can really breakout and establish themselves, Wilson will have a rich selection of targets to throw to in his rookie year.