Never mind how the New York Jets’ wide receivers look in Green vs. White scrimmages at training camp. The first test for a unit that appears to be the Jets’ weakest link occurs Friday night in the preseason opener against the Rams.
It’s still surprising that the Jets traded up to take quarterback Mark Sanchez with the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft without also acquiring a first-rate starting wide receiver.
As it now stands, the Jets will start Jerricho Cotchery—who has never been a No. 1 wide receiver and may not have the ability to be a true No. 1—and a player to be named.
This is no way to ease Sanchez’s transition to the NFL.
But unlike Sanchez, Flacco, and Ryan each had a proven, veteran receiver and a proven tight end on the field to act as a security blanket. Each had someone to whom he could throw to get that crucial, drive-sustaining first down or that big play down the field.
The Jets, at least on paper, have one receiver of such potential (Cotchery) and a bunch of question marks.
Chansi Stuckey? David Clowney? Wallace Wright? Britt Davis? Marcus Henry? Aundrae Allison? Paul Raymond? Huey Whittaker?
Is Brad Smith really a starting NFL wide receiver? Or is he what he has been so far: a jack of many onfield trades, but a master of none?
The Jets, on paper, have neither a wide receiver nor a tight end who should command double coverage. This absence of firepower and big-play ability from the receiving corps could seriously stunt Sanchez’s growth.
Maybe the Jets will get lucky for a change. Maybe Stuckey or Clowney will emerge as a weapon.
Stuckey was strictly a slot receiver in 2008 with 32 catches for 359 yards. In preseason games last year, Clowney led the Jets with 222 yards on eight catches before a shoulder injury limited him to two regular-season games.
Maybe Davis or Henry can be the sleeper the Jets sorely need.
Or perhaps help will come via the waiver wire once other teams start shaping their rosters for opening day.
But the Jets should not be in this precarious position. At season’s end, general manager Mike Tannenbaum may have some explaining to do.
It would be a shame if Sanchez looks like a star on Broadway but doesn’t win games because his cast of receivers is better suited to be understudies.