In the past two seasons, the New York Jets have lacked reliable receivers at the number one and two spots. By signing Eric Decker, they found their number one option, and drafted three receivers in hopes of finding receiver number two. Maybe the best player for the role of number two receiver has been there the whole time.
Based on his reliability, the spark he brings to the offense, and his ability to make plays, especially on third downs, it seems that Jeremy Kerley may be best suited to line up on the opposite side of Decker. So far, no receiver has really stood out at training camp as a potential leader for the number two spot. Kerley will still be placed in the slot in three-receiver packages as that is his specialty, but the Jets may need him more as he has been the only receiver in the last two seasons, which displayed some brutal offensive performances, that has not disappointed.
Since there is no real front runner right now, Kerley's experience and skill set make him the best match. Ideally, the best placement for him would be at number three on the depth chart. Despite what he can do, he has not fully developed into a starting go-to target. Decker is locked in at one, a rookie or Stephen Hill should take number two, Kerley would be an excellent third option, and David Nelson would sit well as a number four receiver. However, with the circumstances of the rookies not showing anything spectacular yet and all the question marks about Stephen Hill, Kerley may be the right guy to choose.
Out of 42 career games played in his first three seasons, Kerley has started in 16 of them. Through that time span, he caught 128 passes for 1,664 yards and six touchdowns. In the 2012 and 2013 seasons combined, Kerley had more receptions and receiving yards than anyone else on the team, and only Jeff Cumberland had more touchdown catches. There is obviously a common theme of Kerley being productive.
The assumption is that Decker will be leading the team in probably all receiving categories, which may cause Kerley's numbers to be a little lower or similar to last year's. However, Kerley will still be a go-to guy, especially on third downs, in the slot, and when teams want to put extra coverage on Decker. It has been said that Kerley was the Jets' answer to when Wes Welker was playing for the New England Patriots. After his first three seasons, he seems to be looking like more of a Wayne Chrebet type of receiver. When you see how Kerley has been able to step up and get the job done, shine in key situations, and earn the respect of Jets fans, it can really make one think of Chrebet and how he flourished with Gang Green.
Even though Kerley may not fit the description of a number two receiver, he may be the Jets' answer. He has the experience and ability to make big plays. At the end of the day, what helps the team win is what is most important. Having Kerley line up as the number two receiver may be what the Jets need to help their passing attack soar in 2014.
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