Edition #130: Jets rookie camp is in the books
☀️ Good morning,
Jets rookie minicamp is in the books, we have some signings and some releases to talk though, we also have our first draft class signing, and a beefed-up Zach Wilson to get to.
Thank you to everyone for voting for the next deep dive, Sauce Gardner is next up and that will be released at some point this week.
Let’s start your Monday off the right way.
✍️ The Jets announced they had officially signed their #4 overall pick, Sauce Gardner penned his fully guaranteed rookie contract. The deal is a 4-year deal worth $38.7 million with a $25.3 million signing bonus. The contract includes the standard 5th-year team option for first-rounders.
🔋 Although the Jets draft class was on the field this weekend, they were limited in their participation. Saleh explained that due to the draft schedules of the prospects, they’d had very little time to work out over the last month, and in an effort to prevent injuries the Jets have them working off to the side, mainly with head strength and conditioning coach Mike Nicolini.
5️⃣ There were a huge number of UDFA in the building this weekend for rookie minicamp, but as of today, the Jets have only signed five of them. WR Keshunn Adams, S Tony Adams, WR Irvin Charles, RB Zonovan Knight, and LB DQ Thomas. We may see a few more signings this week with the Jets having gotten a closer look at the prospects this weekend. Robert Saleh said as much:
"I'm not going to throw names out there, but there's definitely four or five guys who really stood out and are definitely going to be a discussion here over the next day in regard to getting on this 90-man roster,"
👋 To make room the Jets were forced to waive three players, S Zane Lewis, OL Isaiah Williams, and RB Austin Walter were all let go.
😲 Irvin Charles was one of our UDFA’s to watch and according to multiple beat reporters and people in attendance at rookie mini-camp, he was the stand-out performer from the weekend. As a 6’4 228lb wide receiver, if he can put some good reps out there he’ll be one to watch once camp starts for real later in the summer.
🤒 Jeremy Ruckert is still working through a foot injury that he sustained at the Senior Bowl, he’s rehabbing separately at the moment and it’s unclear if he’ll participate in OTA’s over the next week or so.
🤝 The Jets claimed former Eagle Nate Herbig and released Greg Van Roten in a corresponding move. That cut saves the Jets over $1 million on the cap as Nate Herbig’s $2.4 million is lower than the $3.5 million due to GVR in 2022. That’s what I call good business.
🗣️ QUOTE - Robert Saleh on Zach Wilson "He's got a really good early command of the offense and he's doing a really good job in regards to that," Saleh said. "There's little things that he's doing where you're seeing a little more security. He's not a rookie, so he's being a little more vocal. He looks good. He's getting more comfortable, obviously grasping the offense. He's never had trouble grasping the offense, but he was a rookie so he goes through it. He's much further ahead at this point than he was a year ago, for sure."
I’m never one to celebrate when anyone loses their job, I know GVR was a contentious player with the Jets and fans quickly turned on him when he seemed to criticize Zach Wilson following a 26-0 loss to the Denver Broncos in week 3 of the 2021 season by saying “He's gotta learn, this is the NFL, you gotta get the ball out.” - Being critical of your rookie QB is a quick way to invite pressure on yourself, especially when your own play had been questionable up to that point. He recently took to Twitter to try and explain this situation, but the damage had already been done.
When the Jets claimed Nate Herbig from the Eagles the writing was on the wall, the Jets needed to create space and GVR had a non-guaranteed $3.5 million on the books. It just made perfect sense to cut ties with the guard and although Robert Saleh has said they’d ‘love to have him back’ - I fully expect him to sign elsewhere with a better opportunity at a starting spot.
I’ve been heavily critical of GVR in the past, but only when the performances warranted it. By all accounts, he was a great teammate and well-liked in the locker room. If you listen to some in the Twitterverse you’d think he was the worst free-agent signing in Jets history, but just how bad was he really?
According to PFF, GVR was the 41st best guard out of the 69 who qualified based on having played at least 500 sacks. He allowed 3 sacks and 24 pressures in total and he was a better pass blocker than he was run blocker.
He drastically improved his run blocking in 2021 being rated as the 13th best run-blocking guard in the league, but that came at the expense of his pass protection. He allowed 3 sacks and 37 pressures on just 474 pass-blocking snaps and was replaced by Laurent Duvernay-Tardif halfway through the season.
I wish GVR well and hope he finds a starting gig somewhere else in the league, preferably in the AFC East, but he almost represented that 2020 New York Jets team with Adam Gase and blocking for Frank Gore…and now this team has been reborn with a youth movement of excitement.
If you were looking for a backup guard, you could do worse than GVR, but as a starter, he was always a reach and a miss for Joe Douglas in terms of a free-agent acquisition. Nate Herbig is much younger and statistically much better, and let’s be honest, the hope is Laken Tomlinson and Alijah Vera-Tucker stay healthy and he never has to see the field.
Garrett Wilson said he was confident that he could make an impact in year one, and while nobody is expecting him to put up JaMarr Chase numbers, if Zach Wilson makes the jump there’s no reason why he can’t put up impressive numbers.
Wilson was my #1 receiver in the draft and the reason is he can do a little bit of everything. His skill set perfectly translates to the next level, he wasn’t one of these guys who just blew past defenders in college, he had a nuance to his game, a level of perfection in each area that just set him apart.
Robert Saleh was asked what Wilson brings to the team and his answer should excite every single Jets fan:
“Aside from mental makeup, he’s got tremendous body control, range, great route-running ability,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said of Wilson. “He’s got great versatility. He can win those one-on-ones that we talked about yesterday in man coverage when teams are out there in press. Obviously, there’s going to be things he has to work on like every rookie does. I’m really excited to have him and the versatility that he’ll provide.”
Over the weekend there was some talk online that the Jets were still one receiver short, ideally a big framed target who could go up and catch the imperfect Zach passes, and that confused me. Garrett Wilson’s contested catch rate was just below that of Drake London in 2021, a player who many considered to be a contested-catch monster…being tall doesn’t mean you’re going to win your contested catches
“They came in all shapes and sizes,” Saleh said. “A lot it has to do with that mental makeup. A lot of guys play bigger than they are, a lot of guys play smaller than they are. What I think separates him is he does have tremendous body control and range with regards to his length and all that stuff. He plays bigger than his measured size.”
We also picked up the 6’3 Tyler Conklin, 6’6 C.J Uzomah, and 6’5 Jeremy Ruckert. We also still have the 6’3 Denzel Mims and the 6’3 Corey Davis. We’re not lacking big targets for Zach Wilson in year two if you’re just talking purely about size.
🔗 Michael Nania - NY Jets EDGE Micheal Clemons has surprisingly great pass-rush numbers “Over 10 games in 2021, Clemons picked up 46 total pressures, ranking as the fourth-most among SEC edge rushers and tying for 32nd among all FBS edge rushers. Those 46 pressures were comprised of 8 sacks (six full/two half), 11 QB hits, and 27 QB hurries. Collecting his 46 pressures over a total of 328 pass-rush snaps, Clemons registered a pressure rate of 14.0%, which ranked at the 84th percentile among qualified FBS edge rushers”.
🔗 PFF’s Sam Monson - Jets were one of the biggest winners from the NFL Draft - “The Jets had the kind of first-round that can transform a franchise. With two picks in the top 10, they were always likely to be well-positioned, but the board also fell in an advantageous way, allowing them to get the No. 1 cornerback and receiver on their board, Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and Wilson”
Don’t forget that if you’re a fan of those first-place New York Mets, head over to Mets Fix for all the coverage you need. And, if you want to know how the New York Knicks are attacking this off-season, get yourself over to Knicks Film School.
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