As the Jets get closer to training camp, I am examining the roster and giving you my top 25 players. Each weekday, we will reveal another person on the list, leading right into camp. I am not including rookies on this list because I do not feel it is possible to fully evaluate them before they play a game.
No. 9: Keelan Cole
Last year’s ranking: Unranked (not on team)
Age on Opening Day: 28
How acquired: Signed a one-year, $5.5 million free agent contract on March 19
Years left on contract: 1
2021 Salary Cap figure: $5.5 million
Looking back at 2020
Cole is the only guy who joined the Jets and went to a team better than the one he was on. The veteran receiver suffered through a 1-15 year in Jacksonville and now he joins a Jets team that went 2-14 last year.
Cole had a decent season for the Jaguars despite the team’s struggles. He had 55 catches for 642 yards and five touchdowns. He did have six drops. He also contributed on special teams with nine punt returns for 140 yards and one touchdown and three kick returns for 80 yards. He played 76 percent of the offensive snaps.
PFF graded him 89th out of 127 wide receivers.
Outlook for 2021
I admittedly could be way off by putting Cole this high on the list but his spring was really impressive. He took advantage of getting a lot of reps with Corey Davis sidelined by injury and Jamison Crowder sitting out while working out a new contract.
Cole seemed to make plays during every OTA that was open to the media and I think he could be a sneaky good signing for Joe Douglas. My only question is where they plan on using him. He was primarily a slot receiver in Jacksonville. Last year, he had 534 snaps in the slot and 243 wide, per PFF. The Jets have Crowder and rookie Elijah Moore, who are both also primarily slot receivers.
That likely will push Cole outside and, judging by the spring, he is ahead of second-year receiver Denzel Mims. That will be a training-camp battle to watch. But if Cole can carry his spring production into training camp and the preseason games, he will be hard to keep off the field. I won’t be surprised if Cole is one of the more productive players in this offense.