Draft & Free Agent Talk: Lay Off The Big Man
By Paul Kastava
Jets Fan Contributor
January 14th, 2004
Washington's Reggie Williams has been mentioned by several draft experts as a Jets possible pick in round 1. (AP)
Washington's Reggie Williams has been mentioned by several draft experts as a Jets possible pick in round 1. (AP)
The Jets have lacked the presence of a “big” wide receiver for almost five years now. Many fans and experts find it to be no coincidence that the Jets have not made it past the second round of the playoffs since 1998, the year they had their big receiver in Keyshawn Johnson. Granted, that year was the furthest they went since the mid-80’s, but nonetheless, it is a year that fans would love to duplicate over and over again.

So the question is: Would that big receiver bring us back to that level?

The answer is: NO. There is a great myth being talked about in the press and all over Jets fan message boards, that states the Jets need a big receiver. Some insist that either Keyshawn, Terrell Owens or a big WR draft pick such as Washington’s Reggie Williams must be in green and white next year. At one time, acquiring one of those receivers would put the Jets in the upper level of the league. The foursome of Pennington, Moss, Martin, and one of the above could give the Jets one of the most lethal offenses in the league. However, as the great Bob Dylan said, “Times…they are a-changing.”

The top offenses are not just being taken over by a few star players, the best offenses are working in systems that are so in-depth, NASA would have trouble dissecting them. With the emergence of great defensive minds, offenses are forced to rely on more than just their talent. When we see teams like the 15-2 Patriots are able to succeed with average receiving corps and running backs it’s proof that any team can do well as long as they have a good coordinator and system which is something the Jets lack. At this point it would be wrong for the Jets to try to make up for Hackett’s shortcomings by strapping down their salary cap with a big receiver and not addressing their priority which is defense. It is all about the system, and when you have a good system, the only necessary superstar is your quarterback, which Chad is becoming.

That’s right, a big receiver is an unnecessary cap burden on a team. Teams splurge a ton of money on receivers, when their presence, in my humble opinion, is quite overrated. The perfect example is Randy Moss. Moss is by far the most dominant receiver in the league. However, when was the last time the Vikings made the playoffs? Of course their defense is absolutely horrid, but how much better can their defense get when Moss’ salary essentially takes up two spots?

The statistical numbers are even against it. Out of the top 10 receivers in the league (going by receiving yards), none of the players were a top 10 pick. Only one was a top 15 pick, and another three were top 25 picks. The more telling stat is that only three of these receivers’ teams made it to the playoffs (Tory Holt, Marvin Harrison, & Derrick Mason), and out of those three, only one is still in the playoffs as we speak (Harrison). The last Super Bowl team who won mainly because of the excellent play of a receiver was the 49er’s when Rice was there. Are any of these receivers Rice’s level?

Jets fans know firsthand the multitude of receivers available in the late rounds. Laveranues Coles was a third round selection by the Jets in 2000, and turned into a top receiver. Arizona’s Anquan Boldin was the best rookie receiver this year by far, and was a second rounder. Seems with the depth of WR’s in this year’s draft it make more sense to take one in a later round opposed to overpaying for one player such as Owens or Johnson.

Even though Keyshawn thinks he is the reason for Tampa’s ring, don’t let him fool you. Tampa Bay won because they have absolute studs on defense. The Jets have the potential to have a defense like that. They have a lot of holes now, but have a foundation that can definitely be built upon. The first two rounds are to be used for defense and only defense.