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Monday, April 12, 2010
Scouts Inc.: Jets keep getting better

By Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson

Santonio Holmes
Adding a wide receiver like Santonio Holmes makes an already strong offensive team like the Jets even more dangerous.
Even considering that Santonio Holmes is in line for a four-game suspension and his troubling off-the-field history, the Jets became a much better team with the acquisition of Holmes, especially if it only cost them a fifth-round pick. But let’s just focus on what Holmes does for New York on the field -- and that is substantial.

Generally speaking, I have a problem with how often the phrase “No. 1 receiver” is tossed around in the NFL. To me, I see about a dozen wideouts or so who truly fit this mold and several others who have the potential to reach such status. The Jets now have two wide receivers who are capable of reaching that status in Holmes and Braylon Edwards.

I like Holmes’ chances much better of being a No. 1 guy because he is far more consistent than Edwards, who has had trouble with drops. Incorporating these two together along with the ever-reliable Jerricho Cotchery gives the Jets a terrific wideout corps. Along with tight end Dustin Keller and running back Leon Washington -- two very good receiving threats for their respective positions -- this is a tremendous addition for second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez. So many teams do not supply their young franchise signal-callers with the receivers to allow them to succeed.

Holmes (5-11, 192 pounds) isn’t the biggest wideout, but he plays bigger than his frame would suggest -- both in his ability to go up and get the ball in the air and as a blocker. He can abuse coverage at all levels and continues to improve as a route runner. Holmes has very good body control and is dangerous after the catch. Despite his off-the-field reputation, he works very hard on his craft and is very competitive. He should only get better.

I do not expect Holmes' receiving numbers (79 catches, 1,248 yards in '09) to improve in 2010 because the Jets should remain a run-first team.  Holmes was exceptional at getting deep and making big plays when Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger extended plays by buying time in the pocket and heaving the ball deep downfield, which he does so well. Those type of plays probably will not occur nearly as often in New York, but any way you cut it from strictly a football perspective, the Jets are vastly improved because of this trade.

The Jets have the best running game in the league. With this ground threat, either Holmes or Edwards should almost always receive single coverage in one form or another on early downs. That also opens up fantastic play-action possibilities for these two deep threats.

Take a step back and look at what the Jets’ roster looked like after the 2008 season. The moves they have made since that time with trades, the draft and free agency have been simply outstanding. It started with free-agent acquisitions Calvin Pace and Alan Faneca and has picked up steam since Rex Ryan became the head coach. This is just one more example of why the Jets have become one of the very best teams in the NFL, and now they are set up exceptionally well to add more defensive toys for Ryan in the draft.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.