Not many fourth-round draft picks have the opportunity to make an impact in the NFL during their rookie year, let alone start. Yet just weeks away from the season opener, former Cal standout and current Jet’s receiver Chad Hansen is in prime position to do just that.
Already a weakness on the Jet’s depth chart, the receiving corps have been decimated by injuries and key departures. During the offseason, the Jets cut two of their top receivers, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Then, in the annual Green and White scrimmage, Quincy Enunwa suffered a season-ending neck injury. The loss of the Jet’s three best receivers has opened up valuable playing time for younger players, including Hansen.
After all of the departures, Hansen finds himself at number four on the depth chart, behind Robby Anderson, Charone Peake, and Jalin Marshall. Chris Harper, who played at Cal before Hansen, is also listed on the Jet’s roster. Harper has just 14 career receptions in two NFL seasons.
Hansen began his college career at Idaho State, before transferring to Cal for the 2015 season. In that season, Hansen collected just 249 yards and a touchdown, while playing behind five current NFL receivers. After the Cal receiving corps was gutted, he finally got the chance to shine in 2016. In just ten games (sat two because of injury), Hansen had 1,249 yards on 92 receptions (both tops in the conference) and 11 touchdowns.
Hansen chose to forgo his senior season in Berkeley and try his luck in the 2017 NFL Draft. He became the second of three Golden Bears to be selected in the draft, falling to the Jets in the fourth round (141st overall).
Yet Hansen is the only 2017 Cal draftee with a chance of receiving considerable playing time, with Davis Webb secured in the second string role behind Eli Manning and a plethora of backs in front of Khalfani Muhammad in Tennessee.
Hansen impressed the Jet’s organization during training camp, putting him into consideration for a starting spot. However, in two preseason games thus far, Hansen has just three receptions and 23 yards.
If Hansen is able to squeak out a starting job, or even the chance to see the field off the bench, he can make a big impact on the Jet’s offense. Hansen is a commanding downfield presence, who also possesses the capabilities to contribute in the slot. Whatever the case, the future is bright for the youngster out of Cal.