After a slow start to the draft, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer added a quartet of prospects to his stable on day three, including the Jets’ intriguing selection of WR-KR Jeremy Kerley in the fifth round.
“We feel really good about the guys we got,” Schottenheimer told me during a recent appearance on “Four Quarters.” “Rex kind of teased us earlier in the draft. He said, ‘Hey, it might be a slow couple of first days for you guys.’ They’ve been awfully generous in the past with guys that they’ve brought in here like Shonn [Greene] and Mark [Sanchez] and a number of guys.
“But we feel really good about the guys we added, and those are truly the guys, when you look at your roster, that make up those last two days of the draft. When you see the success down the line, those are the guys that you have to kind of find — the diamonds in the rough.”
While the Jets didn’t make a flurry of moves on draft weekend, “Trader Mike” Tannenbaum did make one draft deal. Worried that another team would pull the trigger on Kerley, the Green & White traded up eight spots in the fifth round (swapping picks with Philadelphia while sending the Birds a sixth-round pick for their seventh-rounder) to get the TCU standout.
“We scheduled a private workout with Jeremy and Andy Dalton, the quarterback. Myself and [offensive assistant] Lance Taylor went down to kind of work these guys out and Jeremy and I kind of hit it off right away,” Schotty said. “He’s a slot-type receiver, a great return specialist.
“But a lot of guys get labeled as a slot receiver and it’s unfair, so you go in and work them out and try to make them run the outside route tree and do things like that,” added the Jets’ offensive playcaller. “He’s a guy who caught the ball extremely well during the workout. He’s a great kid, he has great feet in and out of breaks. … He’s a competitive guy who went through all the drills full-speed and made great catch after great catch. We knew he played like a Jet and that was good to see.”
The 5’9”, 188-pound Kerley started 11 games his senior season, leading the Horned Frogs with 56 receptions for 575 yards and 10 TDs. He broke out his junior campaign, pacing TCU with 44 receptions and averaging 12.1 yards a grab. After Kerley performed well in his on-field workout, Schottenheimer got him talking Xs and Os.
“You want to get an idea of a guy’s football intelligence. He was a guy we talked about a couple of the routes they were trying to run against the San Diego State Aztecs,” Schottenheimer said. “It’s funny because he was up on the board and Dalton was in the chair next to him, so I kind of kept looking at Dalton to see if he was right and Jeremy blew it away. He did a great job and we have the utmost respect for that program down there. What they’ve done at TCU is incredible and we’re getting a heck of a football player.”
A couple of weeks before the draft, a report surfaced that New York’s AFC representative had worked out Andy Dalton. And indeed they had, but Kerley’s named escaped the headlines. The Cincinnati Bengals took Dalton in the second round, five selections after the Green & White drafted Temple DL Muhammad Wilkerson.
“Andy was a guy everybody knew was shooting up the draft board and you can never get your hands on enough quarterbacks coming up. You never know. It could be four, five, six years down the line, but you actually get a chance to work with the guy, so we took advantage of that,” Schotty said. “We were going to be down there and he had a terrific workout as well. Those two guys had a great chemistry and it was good to see. They had a strong camaraderie that you could kind of picture Jeremy fitting in with Mark.”
A dual threat, Kerley was a dynamite returner on the collegiate level. He left TCU in second place both in total return yards (2,305) and punt return yards (1,299) and was also fifth in kickoff return yards (1,006). Last season he averaged 27.7 yards on his kick returns and he posted a 13.8 career punt return average.
“He’ll have to find his role on offense. We didn’t even do anything with him returning the ball because that’s evident with him on the film,” Schottenheimer said. “I think he was Special Teams Player of the Year two times in a row and I think Westy is probably pretty excited.”
Coming Wednesday: Coach Schotty reviews the Jets’ seventh-round pair, QB Greg McElroy and WR Scotty McKnight
Tags: Andy Dalton, Brian Schottenheimer, Jeremy Kerley, Lance Taylor
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