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Dustin Keller the Go to Receiver

The Jets have loaded up on targets in the past year to help fasten the development of young quarterback Mark Sanchez.

They acquired Braylon Edwards from the Brown mid season last year. They traded for on the outs receiver Santonio Holmes from Pittsburgh. They even added aging LaDainian Tomlinson to give Sanchez a check down option. But Scouts Inc’s Matt Williamson thinks that Sanchez’s main target won’t be any of the aforementioned names. And it won’t be Jerricho Cotchery either. He thinks it will be third year tight end Dustin Keller.

Don’t sleep on Keller. This could be the season that he really emerges.

His stats in the preseason loss to the Giants were not eye-catching (2 receptions, 19 yards), but Keller was targeted on numerous occasions. The former Purdue player has caught 93 passes in his two NFL seasons and it seems he will be a key part of the Jets’ offense again.

Keller often lines up in the slot, is an excellent move tight end and has the versatility to start in numerous spots in the formation. Even at 6-foot-2 and 248 pounds, Keller is very fast for the position. He has some after-the-catch ability and has a similar skill set to Indianapolis Colts star tight end Dallas Clark.

The Jets have never been bashful about sending Keller deep downfield. Sanchez is just in his second year and has an average arm at best. Keller’s availability in the short to intermediate ranges could provide a nice crutch for a quarterback who needs those around him to win one-on-one matchups.

Keller should see plenty of one-on-one matchups. The Jets’ No. 1 weapon remains their power rushing attack. With all of New York’s talented wide receivers attracting attention, Keller could see plenty of linebacker coverage — particularly against AFC East foes that all feature a 3-4 defensive scheme.

Asking a heavier upfield outside linebacker to turn and run with Keller is recipe for trouble on defense.

Keller was a major force during the Jets’ 2009 playoff run and that success could carry over to 2010. Pundits don’t seem to be discussing Keller as much right now as they did a year ago, but I am predicting a breakout campaign for this dynamic pass-catcher.

Keller is going to be an important piece of the Jets’ passing game. This will be true even after Holmes serves a four-game suspension to start the regular season. Sanchez will be relying on Keller.

In fact, here is an early prediction: Keller will lead the Jets in receptions in 2010.

A pretty bold statement. I do trust Williamson’s opinion though, he is one of the best. That said and after seeing Keller in the third preseason game against the Redskins, I’m going to agree with Matt here. Keller and Sanchez showed a great rapport in the playoffs, and I think that will continue into this season. The two are also great friends off the field, which helps their on field chemistry.  I think his main competition will be Jerricho Cothchery. Braylon Edwards will be more of a deep threat and Santonio Holmes will miss four games leaving Keller and Cotchery. I’m going with Keller, but it will be close.


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