For the past few seasons, the New York Jets have been known for their receiving corps, but not in a good way. The now-departed Santonio Holmes was a shell of himself, Stephen Hill looked more like a bust every game and Jeremy Kerley, though fast and dependable, could not carry the passing game. One overhaul later, Hill may be the wideout on the roster with the most to prove this training camp, but the one with the most work ahead of him is rookie Quincy Enunwa.
Hours after graduating from the University of Nebraska, Enunwa was chosen by the Jets with one of their four sixth-round picks (no. 209 overall) in last May’s draft. This came a few rounds after they selected two other receivers, Oklahoma’s Jalen Saunders and UCLA’s Shaq Evans, in the fourth round.
Competing against two higher-valued rookies, plus free agent additions Eric Decker and Jacoby Ford, plus returning Jets Kerley, Hill and David Nelson, only seems to spell out an uphill climb for Enunwa. But I think he is in the right situation, and he has what it takes to surprise and impress the right people this summer.
Enunwa had a breakout senior year at Nebraska, catching 51 passes and averaging 14.8 yards per catch. He caught 12 touchdowns after entering the season with a career total of just three. Enunwa’s final collegiate touchdown was a 99-yard bomb in Nebraska’s Gator Bowl win over Georgia. It’s true that the defensive back blew his coverage, but Enunwa capitalized and made sure he finished the play in the end zone. He didn’t shrink from the looming tackler – he brushed him off with a quick move before sprinting the rest of the way.
That sprint displayed not only his commitment, but also his respectable speed: Enunwa ran a 4.45 at the NFL Combine 40-yard dash. But his greatest physical asset is his size. He stands 6’2 and 225 pounds, but perhaps more impressive are his arms, 32 5/8 inches long, and his 9.5-inch hands. Enunwa has the longest arms out of New York’s five new receivers. As enjoyable as it is to imagine Enunwa’s Gator Bowl touchdown repeated in a Jets uniform, he has the build of a possession receiver – something Marty Mornhinweg’s West Coast offense sorely needs. (Saunders and Evans, meanwhile, are smaller speed guys.)
Past the frame and arms, Enunwa also has a good head on his shoulders. He was one of Nebraska’s captains last year and was praised for his leadership. He tweeted his favorite line from Donté Stallworth’s talk at the Rookie Symposium: “Only a fool learns only from his mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”
I’ll be interested to see how Enunwa and his fellow rookie wideouts learn on the job this camp. Sanjay Lal is a good receivers coach, but no wideout on the roster has more than four seasons of league experience under his belt. Decker ought to make a good mentor for the new guys, particularly Enunwa – they’re both possession receivers with similar frames. At the same time, Enunwa isn’t exactly aiming for Decker’s roster spot. He has a long way to go to make this team, but he has everything he needs to pull it off.