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Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Jets’ hidden treasure: Wide receiver

By James Walker

AFC hidden treasures: West | North | South | East NFC: West | North | South | East

Examining a position group that could exceed its preseason expectations:

Most of what we've heard from the New York Jets this offseason was their renewed focus on running a "ground and pound" offense. But don't be fooled. New offensive coordinator Tony Sparano also wants improvements made in New York's passing game.

The Jets' offense was in shambles last season. The group finished 25th in the NFL, and didn't do anything particularly well on a consistent basis. Some weeks the Jets could run the football, some weeks they couldn't. Some weeks quarterback Mark Sanchez had success through the air, some weeks he'd get pummeled and forced into multiple turnovers.

Sparano is clear that New York's identity is running the football. But the team's potential hidden treasures at wide receiver also show a commitment to throwing deep when the situation calls for it. Stephen Hill, Chaz Schilens and Jeremy Kerley are three under-the-radar receivers to keep an eye on. This group, along with No. 1 receiver Santonio Holmes, could help Sanchez take the next step.

Hill is particularly intriguing. He is a second-round draft pick from Georgia Tech who didn't catch a lot of passes, but made big plays in college nearly every time he touched the football. Hill has the size and speed to get behind the defense if opponents stack the line. Schilens showed flashes during his time with the Oakland Raiders, but couldn't avoid injuries. Kerley came on strong in the second half of his rookie season, and wants to build on that momentum.

The Jets must have the ability to throw when needed to be successful. These receivers and potential hidden treasures must step up this season when their number is called.