While the star players obviously command most the attention, and the big money, every NFL team has to have a group of players that don’t cost a lot, but give you great production/contributions at key times.
In Jacksonville, with the deletions of veterans Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, they now have a core of young receivers as targets for QB Blake Bortles. That core contains former #1 pick Marqise Lee, who was re-signed in March to a lucrative extension. And it also contains former Colts wide out Donte Moncrief, who got a $9 million one year deal to switch to an AFC South rival.
And, also among that core is speedy former undrafted fee agent second year man, Keelan Cole.
A year ago, Cole was active for all 16 games and became a deep play threat as the year went on, eventually averaging 17.8 yards per reception. And got free deep for several big plays late in the year, including his 75 yard bomb in the third quarter of the key December win over the Seahawks and also, his 45 yard long reception late in the third quarter (above) of the AFC Divisional Playoff win at Pittsburgh.
On Tuesday, Jaguars beat writer for the Florida Times Union, Jon Reid, featured an item on the former Division II Kentucky Wesleyan star, Cole:
#Jaguars second-year wide receiver Keelan Cole is driven and ready to prove he can make an even bigger jump than his remarkable ascent in 2017 when he went from unknown undrafted free agent to earning a roster spot.https://t.co/Mplwee4HlQ
— Florida Times-Union (@jaxdotcom) May 31, 2018
As Reid wrote from Wednesday, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett is a big believer in what Cole did in 2017:
″Talk about a surprise. He was one of those guys that he came out there in the beginning (last season) and we’re trying to spot him around and not make him the emphasis of where we’re going. Then all of sudden, he just naturally started doing everything right, being in the right spots and he earned every single catch he had.″
And on the potential for Cole upcoming this fall?
″He’s fearless and works hard and I think it’s going to be exciting to see what happens,″ Hackett said. ″We want him to see do even more.”
Again, guys like Lee and Moncrief will draw much more of the attention of opposing defensive coordinators and schemes, but you almost root for unheralded players who aren’t making very much (Cole made $465,000 last year) to prove themselves.
And so far, that exactly who the Jags Keelan Cole is.
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