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Stop that Hype Train! Keelan Cole


The Jacksonville Jaguars have moved on from the Blake Bortles experiment and are ready to enter into the Nick Foles era. This team has been littered with high potential wide receivers for a number of seasons, yet we have not seen any of these receivers perform at a high level for consecutive seasons. Could this change in 2019 with the likes of Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, D.J. Chark, or even Marqise Lee upon his return from a knee injury?

This question is up for debate, especially with a new quarterback coming in. The entrance of Foles could have a positive or negative impact on the receivers. On the one hand, Foles could reinvigorate this receiving corps and help them become the force many pundits have expected in recent years. On the other hand, bringing in a new quarterback could cause chemistry issues with the offense, and therefore cause further regression.

One particular Jacksonville wide receiver that could see drawbacks to the arrival of Nick Foles is Keelan Cole.

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Keelan Cole (WR, JAX) ADP: 284 WR: 104

Keelan Cole is entering his third season with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Typically, if a wide receiver is going to break out, it starts to take shape in their third season. Is a breakout campaign in the cards for Cole in 2019? The answer to this question is quite simply...No. Cole has not shown he should be on the Hype Train. Aside from a couple of weeks in his rookie season, he just simply has not performed. Cole will likely let owners down in 2019, and there are several ways this can happen.

Cole's performance dropped off from his rookie season to his sophomore season in 2018, which is an immediate red flag. Cole played in all 16 games in 2017 and 2018 and saw his production decline in targets, receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. Losing production in all four of these categories is disturbing, but the fact that his targets declined in his second year in the Jaguars system is the most concerning.

In 2017, the Jaguars receiving corps were led by Lee and Cole. Both garnered the lion's share of the targets and yards. Then, in 2018, Lee got injured and missed the entire season. One would believe this was good news for Cole as he should receive some of those targets Lee got, right? Not exactly. The Jaguars brought in Donte Moncrief, drafted D.J. Chark, and relied more heavily on Dede Westbrook. Not a ringing endorsement for Cole. Cole ended up finishing third on the team in snaps behind Moncrief and Westbrook, and his production drastically declined in the second half of the season where he received fewer targets and receptions. He even had a stretch of zero receptions in five out of seven games from weeks 10 through 16. Did Blake Bortles and the Jaguars lose faith in his abilities? A deeper look into Cole's advanced metrics might back that belief.

In 2018, Cole had a horrid catch rate of 54.3 percent. This means that he was in the bottom 19% of wide receivers league-wide. If I was Bortles, this would be strike one. Next, Cole had a drop rate of 11.4 percent, which is awful. This placed him in the bottom 5% of wide receivers in the league. Strike two. Unfortunately, it doesn't end there for Cole. He also only managed to earn a meager 3.7 yards after the catch (YAC), which placed him in the bottom 40% of the league. Strike three, you're out. If the lack of production from Cole in 2018 had anything to do with a lack of faith in the second-year wide receiver, one could certainly understand why based on those metrics.

Now, some may argue that with new quarterback Nick Foles in town, Cole's production could increase. While this is a possibility, it should not be counted on. Foles will have to come in and gain a rapport with Cole during OTAs, and that likely won't happen as Cole is currently listed fifth on the Jaguars depth chart. He is currently listed behind soon-to-be-healthy Marqise Lee, Dede Westbrook, newly-acquired Chris Conley, and D.J. Chark. Terrelle Pryor was also brought in during the off-season to compete for a role in the offense. If the Jaguars are bringing in receivers in the off-season, clearly they still are not satisfied with what they have.

Overall, the Jaguars receiving corps is a crowded mess. Banking on Cole to be a late-round sleeper with any real upside is not a wise investment.

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