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NY Jets fans: Don’t be shocked by likely WR depth chart

Malachi Corley, New York Jets
Malachi Corley, New York Jets, Getty Images

The New York Jets will likely disappoint fans with their wide receiver depth chart

In 2022, the New York Jets gave cornerback Sauce Gardner second-team reps until halfway through training camp. During Week 1 of that season, Garrett Wilson was the No. 4 receiver on the depth chart. In 2023, Joe Tippmann began camp as the team’s third-string center.

This is a roundabout way of warning Jets fans about what to expect once the team’s mandatory minicamp begins. Robert Saleh doesn’t just hand playing time to rookies — not even Sauce, who came into the league as one of the most polished players in recent memory.

Therefore, Jets fans who think Malachi Corley will walk into camp as the team’s starting slot receiver should think again. In fact, when minicamp starts, the likely starts will be Garrett Wilson and Allen Lazard.

Yes, Lazard.

Forewarned is forearmed

If Wilson, the 2022 Offensive Rookie of the Year and the No. 10 overall pick in the draft, couldn’t break the starting lineup to begin his rookie season, a third-rounder with much more to learn probably won’t, either.

Corley comes into the league as a far more raw prospect than Wilson for a number of reasons. Wilson came from Ohio State, coached by Brian Hartline, who seems to churn out NFL-ready stars year after year. Corley, meanwhile, played at Western Kentucky against inferior competition. Wilson had work to do on his route-running but had plenty of twitch and sophistication to many of his routes. Corley ran a limited route tree and rarely faced press coverage, playing in the slot 90% of the time.

Therefore, as bad as Lazard was in 2023, expect him to begin as the starting Z receiver in 11 personnel. That doesn’t mean he’ll stay there, and Corley will certainly gain some reps. Still, Lazard’s previous connection with Aaron Rodgers and his $12 million cap hit will get him playing time. Corley will also get some more playing time due to Mike Williams’ continued rehab, but the Jets will work him in slowly. In fact, it wouldn’t be shocking if Xavier Gipson gets starting slot reps over Corley.

According to ESPN’s Rich Cimini, the Jets hope that Rodgers’ return and wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson will be able to rejuvenate Lazard’s career after a putrid 2023 season. Lazard posted a league-worst 0.68 yards per route run, a 17.9% drop rate, and a 23.5% contested catch rate. Those were far worse than his 1.61, 6.3%, and 39.1% marks the season prior.

How long Lazard remains in the starting lineup will likely depend on how Corley proves himself — specifically with his ability to run the route tree outside. The Jets like to use Wilson in the slot, which means Corley will need to be able to play the Z spot to increase his playing time and knock Lazard back a spot.

Either way, Jets fans, be prepared. You’re not going to like it, but it’s going to happen. Book it.

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Reprocity
Reprocity
18 days ago

This article was spot on. To think, you didn’t even want Gibson to be our #6 😉

DFargas
DFargas
17 days ago
Reply to  Reprocity

The competition between Gipson and Corley for the starting slot might be hotter than we think. Despite his lackluster performance during the season, Gipson is a gamer, he ain’t giving anything away. As a raw rookie, he beat out the veteran Hardiman in no uncertain terms, and now he is a second-year guy set to square off against a rookie.

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