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Moore Ready to Help Jets Take Flight

By Dave Holcomb
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The Jets addressed a need, drafting Elijah Moore with the second pick in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

The New York Jets have experienced their fair share of troubles at quarterback over the last several years.

Since last making the postseason in 2010, the Jets have started 11 different signal callers, including five quarterbacks they drafted and failed to develop. That’s not even counting Christian Hackenberg, who failed to make a single start after the Jets selected him in the second round in the 2016 NFL Draft.

But the Jets haven’t exactly featured elite players at wide receiver either. Of course, that makes sense -- quarterback and wide receiver are connected. It’s hard for one to excel without the other.

Still, the Jets have seen just two wide receivers reach the 1,000-yard plateau since 2008, and the two that did -- Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker -- did it in the same season. That was in 2015 when the Jets went 10-6 and missed the playoffs after losing to Buffalo in the final week of the season.

That’s the Jets’ only winning season over the last decade.

Prior to 2015, the last Jets receiver with 1,000 yards receiving in a season was Jericho Cotchery in 2007. That was when Chad Pennington was the starting quarterback.

So while the arrival of Zach Wilson at quarterback is promising for the franchise, the Jets also needed more weapons to truly get out of the awful offensive cycle the team has experienced the last decade.

The Jets addressed that need, drafting wide receiver Elijah Moore with the second pick in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Moore went fifth among the wide receivers in the class, but ranked him fourth at wideout ahead of Kadarius Toney, who also landed in New York with the Giants. Maybe Moore isn’t as skillful as Ja’marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle or Devonta Smith, but it’s very likely Wilson is going to love throwing the ball to Moore.

“Ultra-competitive slot target with the talent and mindset to handle a heavy amount of targets and shine in the process,” NFL analyst Lance Zierlein wrote. “He’s not very big, but he’s stronger than his measurables might suggest, and he’s shown a fearlessness to make the catch despite impending punishment.”

With that last bit of description, former Georgia wide receiver Hines Ward, who caught 1,000 passes in the NFL mostly with reckless abandon over the middle of the field, comes to mind. But Zierlein compared him to a different former Steelers wideout -- Antonio Brown.

Standing at about 5-foot-10 and 178 pounds, Moore’s stature is more similar to Brown than Ward. Brown never took or delivered the same punishment as Ward did, but Brown was an excellent route runner in Pittsburgh and has made terrific catches throughout his career.

The Jets would obviously love Moore to become either one of those stars. That’s not to say he will, but according to Zierlein, his playing style mirrors that of Brown’s.

Moore posted Brown-like numbers during his final season at Ole Miss. He hauled in at least 10 catches in seven of eight games last season and posted three 200-yard receiving days. In his final three contests, he averaged 13 receptions and about 200 receiving yards with five touchdowns.

As a freshman, Moore played behind current NFL stars D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown in 2018. Waiting his turn, Moore became the focal point of the Ole Miss passing game the following season.

In 2019, he recorded 67 catches for 850 yards and 6 touchdowns, posting those numbers on an awful passing team. Ole Miss only had 2,328 passing yards the entire 2019 season. Other than Moore, no other Rebels receiver had more than 20 receptions, 200 yards or 1 touchdown.

During 2020, things improved at quarterback for Ole Miss, and Moore really took off. Despite playing in just eight games, he finished the year with 86 catches, 1,193 yards and 8 touchdowns. No receiver in the SEC averaged more yards per game than Moore, and DeVonta Smith was the only SEC receiver with more catches or yards.

With what the Jets hope is a franchise quarterback in Wilson and a collection of solid wide receivers -- Corey Davis, Denzel Mims and Jamison Crowder -- around him, Moore appears ready to soar in New York.