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Why Jets are 'juiced' to add 'YAC King' Malachi Corley to offense

The Jets decided to select an offensive tackle in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft on Thursday night but did not address the offensive skill position to pair with Pro Bowler Garrett Wilson.

A day later and Gang Green feels they got their man in Western Kentucky’s Malachi Corley after selecting him with the No. 65 pick in the third round.

“We’re juiced, man. It’s hard not to get excited,” Jets GM Joe Douglas said after the selection on Friday. “Explosiveness, dynamic player with the ball in his hands. A guy we feel will be a real weapon.”

The selection didn’t come easy for Douglas and the Jets, though. Gang Green went into the draft without a second-round pick but unsuccessfully tried to trade back in.

The Jets needed a wide receiver and pass catchers were being picked in bunches in the second round. Douglas said he was making calls midway through the second round to see if they could move up, but no team wanted to move back to No. 72. That was until the Panthers reached out about the first pick in the third round, which the Jets jumped on.

“This class of receivers is very deep just like the tackle class,” Douglas explained. “[Corley] was in a good group of players but ultimately a guy we felt was a good fit for our style of football. He plays with violence and anger and you can do a lot of things with him.”

Jets head coach Robert Saleh echoed Douglas’ sentiments.

“He’s elite with the ball in his hands, he’s an angry runner,” Saleh said. “He calls himself the 'YAC King' and he’s deserving of it.”

YAC (yards after catch) is something the Jets can use more of in 2024. In his college career, Corley totaled over 2,000 YAC. He averaged 8.8 yards after the catch per reception last season, second among FBS players with at least 100 targets.

Jets wide receivers had a total of 543 yards after the catch last season, the second-fewest in the NFL, according to ESPN.

"My biggest strength is yards after the catch, I think that’s my calling card. I do it better than anyone else,” Corley said over Zoom after his selection. “When I get the ball in my hands, I can make special plays happen. I can take a two-yard bubble screen 20-30 yards if I have to. A staple of my game is being strong, powerful and playing the game like that. It’s how I’ve always done it."

Pre-draft evaluations compared Corley to the 49ers’ Deebo Samuel, especially in how a team can utilize him in different formations and even as a running back. While the Jets don’t want to make comparisons they acknowledge how Corley’s versatility is important to what they want to do offensively.

“When the ball is in his hands he makes DBs pay. He’s a good piece, great addition,” Saleh said.

“His YACs speak for itself, his production speaks for itself the last two years. [He was] the centerpiece of that offense,” Douglas added. “Again, someone who can be slot, X, Z, he can be running back. He can do a lot of different things. He’s a nice versatile chess piece.”