The 2019 season featured a healthy dose of rookie wide receivers who became real impact players by the end of the year. Fortunately, for teams that missed out on the bounty, the 2020 wide receiver draft class appears to be one of the strongest in recent memory.
On top of the talented and deep rookie class, there are a few proven No. 1 wide receiver options available on the free agency market, namely Amari Cooper, A.J. Green and Emmanuel Sanders. However, there's another player who is teetering on the edge of being included in that group, but many people aren't sure if he can be a primary option on a good passing offense. That player is Robby Anderson.
[Editor's note: Available to all of PFF's EDGE and ELITE subscribers, PFF's Free Agent Rankings Page consists of three-year grades, PFF WAR and in-depth analysis for all of the top NFL free agents. Contract information from our friends at Over The Cap is also available. Subscribe today for access!]
Sure, Anderson has over 1,500 more receiving yards than any other New York Jets wide receiver since entering the league in 2016, but his competition hasn't exactly been stiff. Names like Quincy Enunwa, Jermaine Kearse, Jamison Crowder and Brandon Marshall follow Anderson's on that yardage list — he has been their top wide receiver by default. That goes both ways when trying to project Anderson's role in a new offense, however.
In New York, Anderson has not had the playmakers around him to draw away attention, nor has he had the benefit of the consistent quarterback play that would have made his first four seasons in the NFL a whole lot easier. At the forefront of those roadblocks has been the Jets' inability to take advantage of Anderson's greatest asset — his ability to get open down the field.
Anderson needs accurate downfield passes like he needs air to breathe
I don't think there is anyone out there trying to claim that Anderson isn't fast — the guy can scoot. His 40-yard dash time coming out of Temple was 4.34 seconds, and it looks like he plays even faster than that. Given that speed, it shouldn't come as a big surprise to see that Anderson ranks among the top five wide receivers in the NFL in targets of 20 or more yards downfield since 2016, with 112, and he trails only Julio Jones (126), Mike Evans (121) and Antonio Brown (113). As a team, you want to take advantage of a player like Anderson, who can get over the top of defenses with regularity. The Jets have been unable to do that.