On Day 2, the Jets drafted the only rookie wide receiver that Aaron Rodgers cannot ignore

In his final year in Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers didn't trust his rookie receivers, but the New York Jets needed to add weapons in the 2024 NFL Draft, so they got one that Rodgers cannot ignore.
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers wide receiver Malachi Corley
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers wide receiver Malachi Corley / Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

After back-to-back MVP seasons in Green Bay, the Packers traded away Aaron Rodgers’s favorite weapon, Davante Adams. To replace Adams, general manager Brian Gutenkunst drafted Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs in the 2022 NFL Draft but saddled with inexperienced pass-catchers, the then 38-year-old Rodgers went from frustrated to exasperated and finally got his way with a trade to New York. 

Rodgers, desperate for a second Super Bowl, rather than trust his talented rookies, targeted Allen Lazard 100 times. Now, at 40 years old and coming off a torn Achilles, the future Hall of Fame quarterback’s new general manager, Joe Douglas, delivered a new rookie pass-catcher, and this one will be tough to ignore. 

With the first pick of the third round of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Jets selected Malachi Corley from Western Kentucky. The 5-foot-11 215-pound receiver caught at least 70 passes in each of his last three seasons in college including a 101-catch 1,293-yard campaign in 2022. 

Under Mike McCarthy in Green Bay, Rodgers was brought up in a true West Coast offense, one built on precision and timing. Now, Nathaniel Hackett, his handpicked offensive coordinator, caters to his love of West Coast principles. Rookies, however, take time to adjust to that type of sophisticated NFL offense and aren’t always going to be where a veteran quarterback expects. So, Rodgers is quick to overlook them in the progression in favor of a more familiar option. 

Regardless, New York needed to add weapons on offense. Outside of Garrett Wilson, the team had serious question marks, and Corley provides a lot of answers. 

Of his 79 receptions last year, 36 came behind the line of scrimmage and on those touches, he averaged 6.7 yards and 9.2 yards after the catch per reception, 22nd most in the country. Another 27 of his catches came within nine yards of the line of scrimmage and on those short grabs, he ranked third in the nation in yac/rec at 8.8. 

Corley is the type of player that a coaching staff manufacturers touches for. He’ll be used on screens, quick-hitters, and even get carries out of the backfield. Rodgers won’t have a choice but to get him the ball, because well, that’s the play-call. Hackett can scheme up five to seven Corley touches a game, regardless of whether Rodgers looks his way on a traditional dropback. 

Throughout the draft process, he’s been compared to a Kirkland brand Deebo Samuel, and that’s honestly not too far from the truth. At his best, Corley will be a hybrid offensive weapon, not a traditional wideout, and he’ll make Rodgers's life a lot easier. 

In the first round, the Jets drafted offensive tackle Olu Fashanu out of Penn State to protect their veteran quarterback, and in a lot of ways Corley will serve the same purpose. New York wants Rodgers to get the ball out of his hands quickly because If he can stay healthy, the Jets can end their 13-year playoff drought.

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