Elijah Moore could be the New York Jets’ long-term WR1
With free agency in its second wave, the Jets still have not added a new wide receiver to the roster. It was painful for Jets fans to watch Amari Cooper and Robert Woods both get traded for Day 3 draft picks.
In a crucial season for Wilson, the wide receiver room currently consists of five receivers, none of whom had over 550 receiving yards in 2021.
So why does general manager Joe Douglas feel comfortable with the current roster? Is it because of the several talented prospects in the draft? Do the Jets feel good with their improvements at tight end?
Both are possible, but I think the answer is simple: the Jets’ coaching staff and front office are confident they already have a WR1 in their second-round pick from last year’s draft.
Elijah Moore’s strong finish
When wide receiver Elijah Moore‘s rookie season ended in Week 14, it was a huge blow to the offense. The loss hurt not only because Wilson had just returned, but also due to the dominant run Moore was on.
In the six games before his injury, Moore was legitimately a top 5-10 wide receiver in the NFL.
In the 2020 college football season, Moore ranked second-best among qualified FBS wide receivers in both receiving yards per game on deep passes (61.3) and receiving yards per game on intermediate passes (43.3). He continued this two-way prowess in the NFL.
From Weeks 8-13, Moore ranked fifth in both deep receiving yards (166) and intermediate receiving yards (207). The only other receiver to rank top 5 in both areas over that span was Justin Jefferson.
Patience is key for young receivers
Saying Moore struggled to get going over his first five games would be an understatement. Moore had a dismal 4.0 passer rating when targeted and tied Denzel Mims in receiving yards with 79 despite getting 21 more targets.
However, as I have already gone into above, he made a significant turnaround. Once Moore found his groove, along with getting some better usage and quarterback play, he was one of the best receivers in the NFL. It’s common for rookie receivers to start slow as I went into more detail in this article.
Even top wide receivers need time to adjust to the NFL. Many take at least a year or two. In 2020, Justin Jefferson was the lone rookie to break 1,000 yards. However, in year two, he was joined by four other receivers from his draft class, three of which were taken outside the first round.
It’s not unreasonable to expect Moore to make a similar leap.
What to expect from Elijah Moore in 2022
In a perfect world, Moore would pick up where he left off and be a top 10 wide receiver in the NFL. However, it’s asking a lot of Moore to have 96 catches, 1,300 yards, and 14 touchdowns (the 17-game pace he was on from Weeks 8-13), especially considering these numbers would rank second, third, and tied for first in the Jets’ single-season records, respectively.
A more reasonable breakout season would feature over 75 receptions, 1,000 yards, and six touchdowns. This would establish him as a top 25 wide receiver and represent a similar leap to last year’s breakout players.
The Jets may not have signed Allen Robinson or traded for Amari Cooper, but Elijah Moore is capable of being better than both.