2021 Projections for the Jets’ Elijah Moore
On top of adding quarterback Zach Wilson and running back Michael Carter in this year’s NFL Draft, the New York Jets went out and grabbed a high-profile wide receiver in Elijah Moore to hopefully improve their stable of pass-catchers. As Moore enters the league out of Ole Miss, he joins a team that is devoid of any entrenched options for Wilson to target, potentially being that WR1 option to help improve the offense under new head coach Robert Salah.
The hard part of projecting the kind of role that a player like Moore will have in his rookie season is the kind of offensive identity that the Jets will have, especially with Mike LaFleur taking over as the new offensive coordinator. With that San Francisco background on both sides of the ball, it certainly would make sense for the Jets to focus more on running the ball more than throwing it, lowering the ceiling of Moore and other receivers.
Jamison Crowder and Corey Davis are the biggest threats for targets ahead of Moore, especially for Crowder and how he earns the vast majority of those targets in the slot, so Moore’s role will likely fluctuate more as he is worked more and more into the offense as the season progresses. The potential for Moore seems to be much higher in the fantasy football community than that of real-life talent evaluators, something that certainly can help drive up his value even before stepping onto the field.
52 receptions / 653 yards / 3 TDs / 5 rushing attempts / 27 yards / 0 TDs / 3 fumbles
Outside of Crowder, Davis, and Moore, the Jets truly do not have any substantial targets for Wilson to focus on the passing game, meaning that work for both of these players is likely going to be high. Yes, there are the Braxton Berrios and Denzel Mims on the depth chart, but Moore is essentially locked into the pecking order above those options, helping provide him with a safe floor in his first season.
A source of vacated targets lies in the recent trade of tight end Chris Herndon to the Minnesota Vikings, and while he finished as the fourth most-targeted option last year, that was still a 45-target piece of the pie, which can help give Moore a foot to stand on in the offense.
If Moore was to hit all of the projected stats, he would have hauled in the team’s most receptions and had the second-most receiving yards, as well as tied for the second-most receiving TDs on the season. While expecting a rookie WR to come in and supersede some of the incumbent talent in such a way most rookies are unable to do, Moore enters into a great situation with a ton of unclaimed targets, and all it takes is an injury or two to immediately bump him into a larger role.
The Jets are desperately needing to reclaim a sense of what it means to be an NFL team, an identity crisis that has been going on for far too long, and Moore can help them do that. Even if he does ultimately fall short of the aforementioned projections, he still can be an impactful member of the offense and help make a name for himself in only his first year in the league.
This team will go as far as Wilson is able to lead it, as far as Carter is able to run it, and as far as Moore is able to catch it – while in a nutshell, it seems quite narrow-minded to dumb down the Jets like this, they invested early draft picks on young players, so they won’t just have them sit early on.
Moore did end up suffering a quad injury in training camp but has always had a positive diagnosis for his return that placed him at 100% healthy for the start of the season. With his best ability to be availability for New York, Moore’s impact on this team certainly can be one not topped by many, if any, other of his fellow WRs drafted in this year’s draft class.
If everything pans out correctly for the Jets, they were just able to snag another NFL-ready Ole Miss wideout ready to take over the game (but still be behind D.K. Metcalf), and he can immediately help cross off a big-time need for the Jets moving forward. Even if he fails to live up to expectations but is not a total and utterly flop, they still have a player with great intangibles and a ceiling that is quite high.
Let’s just hope that the luck of the Jets (or lack thereof) has gone away and they can finally move forward with a semi-competitive team, with Salah at the helm.