Can Elijah Moore establish himself as this years’ top rookie receiver for the New York Jets?

Current New York Jets Rookie and former Ole Miss Rebels’ wide receiver, Elijah Moore, has received pre-season buzz as a potential breakout player. Can he capitalize on the hype?

In recent NFL drafts, there have been a plethora of receivers that emerged almost immediately as difference makers and the top targets for their teams. In many cases, these receivers were not the first two or three receivers off the board.

Last year there was Justin Jefferson, the only rookie wide receiver who was a pro bowler last year. Jefferson was taken by the Vikings late in the first round, as the 4th overall receiver taken. In 2019, there was A.J. Brown and DK Metcalf who both turned into true number one targets for the Titans and Seahawks, respectively, and were both taken in the second round.

Looking ahead to this year, Metcalf and Brown’s old Ole Miss teammate, Elijah Moore, will have as good a chance as any to be this year’s semi sleeper receiver.

Elijah Moore was drafted by the New York Jets with the second pick of the second round (34th overall) in the 2021 NFL draft. Coming off a superb senior year where Moore was a Biletnikoff finalist and racked up almost 1200 receiving yards, 8 touchdowns, and 86 receptions in just 8 games, Moore was considered to be one of the top receiving options in the draft before a small slide into the second round of the draft.

Moore isn’t the biggest receiver, standing at just 5 foot 9 inches, but he has the invaluable elite combination of strong hands, speed, and agility – running a 4.35 40-yard dash at his pro day, according to relative athletic score.

But the question always, is for any draft prospect: will this tantalizing combination of college production and athletic and skill-based potential translate into the NFL? Though it is early, reports suggest that Moore has been one of the most impressive offensive players on the entire Jets offense throughout the minicamp period and early days of training camp.  Both Moore’s separation and big-play ability have impressed the team and the media alike.

The next question is: Can Moore carve out a role in the Jets’ wide receiver room that is uncharacteristically deep this year?

Elijah Moore’s fit with the Jets

To remedy the units’ struggles in 2020, the Jets splurged for former Titans wide receiver Corey Davis on a three-year deal, coming off of the best season of his career. In addition to Davis, the Jets signed former Jags receiver, Keelan Cole, to a one-year deal: he has been a productive, reliable option in his own right in his career. Couple these two signings with returning Jamison Crowder, who got 59 receptions and 6 touchdowns in just 12 games, and returning second-year player, Denzel Mims, and the Jets have some new depth for Moore to compete with.

On the surface, Moore is one of five players competing for three starting spots, but diving deeper into the receiver room, it is clear Moore will get a legitimate shot as a top target for the team next year. Denzel Mims has reportedly really struggled at the beginning of camp and during the offseason, after dealing with a bout of food poisoning. In addition to Mims’ struggles, his fit next to Corey Davis in the starting lineup will be questionable as they both fit the “big, passion receiver mold,” with a large catch radius. Along with Corey Davis in the starting lineup, incumbent Jamison Crowder will probably maintain his role as a slot receiver when the Jets run those types of sets. But that leaves the position of the second outside receiver vacant, and at this point, I think it is likely that it will be Elijah Moore.

New Jets coach Robert Saleh, and offensive coordinator, Mike LaFleur, both come from the 49ers, where there was a strong emphasis on having quick receivers that are highly versatile and are dynamic with the ball in their hands. The 49ers have had success with players like Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, who fit this mold. Elijah Moore is not only a great fit across from Corey Davis, but I am sure there will be many plays that the Jets have designed that will run through Elijah Moore given this skillset that he has.

If anybody sees the potential in Elijah Moore, it would be his former teammates at Ole Miss. A.J. Brown recently said that he will “put his money” on Moore winning Offensive Rookie of the Year. Those expectations may not be fair, but there is no reason Jets fans should not feel very good about the team’s newest rookie receiver.