The Jets so far have opened up four of their OTA practices to the media this spring. The latest was Tuesday in the sweltering heat. Here are some thoughts and observations from the spring practices:
1. Zach Wilson has been the featured attraction, of course. Everyone in the media and inside the Jets organization has been curious to see the No. 2 overall pick. Wilson has been impressive. That comes with the caveat – it’s only June and they are in shorts. But you can see his physical ability and he also seems to see the field well. He does not have many reps where he holds onto the ball too long, a sign of a young quarterback overthinking things.
He has had several highlight throws. Two stood out on Tuesday. He threw one deep ball down the sideline to fellow rookie Elijah Moore (more on him in a bit), who made a diving catch. It was a pretty ball that he laid out just where Moore could get it. On another pass, he placed it perfectly over cornerback Michael Carter to Keelan Cole, who had run a corner route. The ball went just over Carter’s fingers and found Cole.
The ball comes out of Wilson’s hands quickly. On some throws, he reminds me of an elite point guard throwing a bounce pass on the fast break to a spot he anticipates a teammate. Wilson, a former point guard, made one of those throws last week to Braxton Berrios across the middle. It caught the eye of the coaches.
“He just zipped it in there and didn’t try to do anything cute with it,” coach Robert Saleh said. “He just got it to him in a hurry. And, some young quarterbacks might try to make the perfect throw, he got it in and out of his hands as quickly as possible and got it to him as quickly as possible so (Braxton) could go create with the ball. And, we felt like that was a pretty veteran move.”
No one is anointing Wilson yet. This is not even the first inning of the game. It is more like batting practice. But you can see the physical skills that the Jets fell in love with. The Jets have to be thrilled with what they have seen so far from Wilson.
2. Wilson is not the only rookie turning heads. Moore, the second-round pick from Ole Miss, looks legit. He seems to catch everything thrown his way. He has shown speed, good route running and strong hands during the open OTAs. If the Jamison Crowder contract impasse gets resolved, it will be interesting to see how the Jets get them both on the field at the same time, but it is going to be hard to keep Moore on the sideline. He looks that good.
3. OK, enough sunshine and rainbows. As good as some of the rookies have looked, Joe Douglas’ first draft class from 2020 has had a quiet spring. First-round pick Mekhi Becton is sidelined with a foot injury. Wide receiver Denzel Mims missed one practice with an illness and has not had a lot of highlights when the media has been watching. Ashtyn Davis has not been on the field. James Morgan looks like he is not even close to being ready to play in an actual game. Jabari Zuniga and Cameron Clark are getting time with the backups.
Bryce Hall and La’Mical Perine will potentially have big roles this fall, but there are more question marks than answers about this draft class right now.
4. The Jets backup quarterback situation is one to watch. The team has decided not to bring in a veteran this spring and that has benefitted Wilson, Morgan and Mike White, who have gotten all the reps. But the Jets have to know they can’t go into the season without a quarterback who has ever taken a snap in an NFL game on the roster. Bears quarterback Nick Foles is the one to watch. Does Douglas send a sixth-round pick to Chicago for his old friend from the Eagles? He needs to do something before training camp because the backup situation is ugly at the moment.
The Jets announced their three-game preseason schedule Tuesday. They open against the Giants on Aug. 14, head to Green Bay on Aug. 21 then host the Eagles on Aug. 27.