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NY Jets’ Malachi Corley is more than just the ‘YAC King’

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Malachi Corley

Malachi Corley’s YAC is excellent, but his film shows he will bring even more to the New York Jets

The New York Jets moved up in the third round to take Malachi Corley with the 65th pick in the 2024 NFL draft. Joe Douglas even came out and told the media that Corley was the fourth-ranked WR on their big board.

In all honesty, all I had heard about Corley prior to the draft was that he is known as the “YAC King.” That’s also the primary way he has been billed to Jets fans since being selected.

I dove deep into Corley’s stats and tape, and it was evident what the Jets saw in him and why fans should be excited about him – not just as the “YAC King,” but as much more than that. Beyond his YAC skills, Corley’s game involves plenty of exciting traits that aren’t being talked about enough. Overall, he has the potential to be a major contributor for the Jets not just in 2024, but for the foreseeable future.

Corley started all 12 games in which he appeared during the 2023 season. He finished the season with 984 yards and 11 touchdowns on 79 receptions. Impressively, Corley ranked 26th out of 199 WRs in yards per route run at 2.78 despite a modest ADOT (average depth of target) of 5.5 yards.

Living up to his nickname, Corley ranked fifth among FBS wide receivers with 683 YAC. His 8.6 YAC per reception ranked 16th out of 194 qualified wide receivers.

Corley caught only 4-of-17 contested targets, which is definitely something that I wanted to look at on film to see if it was a negative in his game. What I found was that Corley’s QB play was below average at best. Many of his contested targets were bad throws and not really on him.

Drops were somewhat of a concern as Corley was credited with six of them, but this is another area where he was hurt by his QB. I charted that only two of those drops were on him. I also charted that his QB missed him 12 times on routes where he was open.

Watching Corley’s film, he is extremely physical and elusive after the catch, while showing some elite vision. Corley displayed a ton of good short-area acceleration, and I would expect the Jets to get the ball to him in similar ways to Western Kentucky.

Something I love charting when it comes to WRs is how often they get tackled on first attempts. Out of 79 catches, I charted Corley being tackled on the first attempt just four times! He is truly impressive in how he finishes every run, and I think it is something that will translate to the NFL.

On top of his YAC package, Corley displayed flashes of vertical ability, bringing another element to his game.

I watched all 115 targets Corley received in 2023. Here are the clips that stood out to me.

Malachi Corley film

Corley is the #3 on the bottom here (slot WR). It’s a good stop-and-go route that gets separation, but the ball gets tipped. He shows some good route-running ability here.

Slot fade. Corley is the #3 (slot WR) at the top here. Not a great job getting separation, but the QB doesn’t help with a floating ball that makes him adjust. This could have been PI, but Corley got two hands on it. Not the best rep overall.

Screen in the red zone on third-and-goal. I love how physical he is. He runs right over the CB knowing that it’s third-and-goal. The offense puts him in a good position as they out-leveraged the defense at the bottom with 4 WRs and 3 CBs. Physical, physical, physical.

On third-and-4, Corley is the #2 WR up top. Western Kentucky runs double slants, and Corley does a good job winning on the route, but the pass gets broken up. Could he have been stronger with his hands, or was it a late ball? Looks like the QB was a little late, allowing the DB to get the PBU. Still, I like the route from Corley on that rep.

Corley is the #2 WR up top. He runs a vertical route up the seam, and it looks like he had good separation, but a late ball and underthrown pass makes it a difficult contested target. Corley draws the penalty though.

Boy does this play look familiar. It is the same little mini screen with an out from the #3 WR with the other 2 WRs blocking – a staple in the west-coast offense. Corley gets two good blocks and shows that elite burst to get an explosive play.

Good job on the curl from Corley. He works back to the QB and shows his ability to break the first tackle attempt. Corley turns a 7-yard gain into a 20-yard gain – something that is huge for wide receivers at the next level and something the Jets lacked.

A little RPO with Corley sitting in the flat after the screen gets busted. He turns a 5-yard gain into a 70-yard TD. Corley absolutely trucks the DB and then shows great speed to finish the run for a TD. Reps like this are why the Jets loved Corley.

Looks like a really clean sail/7 route from Corley, the #2 WR on the bottom. Good job getting depth on the route and being quick and sudden out of his break. He gets bumped out of his break, but does a good job stemming inside and breaking outside. Always notice how he keeps his route flat after breaking to the outside to be QB-friendly. And he finishes the run after the catch – he loves contact.

A little mesh concept here shows his great speed, as well as his contact balance to break two tackles and take the short pass for a touchdown. Great job staying in bounds by Corley here as well. This is “YAC King” stuff – you cannot arm tackle him. He had 8 catches for 207 yards and a tuddy in this game.

We see a contested catch opportunity here, and I would love to see him go up and high-point this ball for the reception. It’s not a terrible ball, so it looks like a little bit of a drop from Corley. He can improve on his catch strength.

Corley is the #2 WR on the bottom here. He runs a slot fade and does a great job adjusting in mid-air. For a guy that was 4-of-17 on contested catch opportunities, I found a lot of them were on the QB. Here, Corley does a great job helping his QB out as he shows great athleticism with his body control to make the catch through contact from two DBs.

Corley is the #2 WR in the trips set here. Great Squirrel route from Corley – he sells the curl very well and accelerates on the go to create a ton of separation. The ball is a little off-target, but I would love for him to track this a little better and bring this one in. It’s a tough catch but one you would want him to make as it hits him in the hands.

Corley shows great vision and patience here on the power run play. They used him in gadget situations a ton – tunnel screens, normal screens, pop passes. Great job finishing the run here for a big gain inside the 5-yard line.

Another squirrel route in the EZ, and this time, the QB doesn’t miss Corley. He creates a ton of separation, and it’s an easy pitch and catch for the TD. Great route from Corley, showing suddenness in and out of his break.

Corley is the #2 WR at the bottom of the screen here, running the out and up. He sells the out really well with his eyes as he turns and then bursts upfield to create a ton of separation. We know at this point what he can do with the ball in his hands after the catch. He explodes downfield for a huge TD, even with the ball not being great.

Corley is again the #2 WR up top in the trips set. Great job on the 50/50 ball here to highpoint it and show strength at the catch point. He is not bad in contested situations – not as bad as the stats show, at least. When given a good ball, he can make the play.

Overall, Corley looks like a great prospect to me. He is going to fit very well in the Jets’ 11 personnel package, as he will add an aspect of YAC that the Jets desperately need. It will be up to Nathaniel Hackett and the offensive scheme to get him the ball in advantageous situations, but once you get the ball in Corley’s hands, anything can happen. On top of that, he has the potential to develop into a better downfield threat than given credit for.

Corley has a real opportunity to be a big contributor to the Jets offense in 2024, and fans should be as excited about it as I am.

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