For Jets Rookies, a Look Back, a Look Ahead

Posted May 11, 2015

Minicamp Is Over and Now the 1st-Year Players Are Part of a 90-Man NFL Roster Working Toward Summer

Updated, 9:20 p.m. ET

Todd Bowles' first rookie minicamp unfolded no doubt the way all rookie minicamps in all pro sports have always gone. On day one there was a lot of good to see with the top draft picks showing their athleticism in shorts, and some mistakes. Then on day two the rookies had more to absorb, more to blow their minds.

All in all, paraphrasing what Bowles said of top pick Leonard Williams: For two-hand touch, they played pretty well.

"It’s a fine line," the first-year head coach said of the coaching-up process of this camp. "You want them to play fast. The first thing I told the coaches was that I want them to play fast. We want to see who can play and who can’t.

"But at the same time, you have to put a little bit in, enough to make them think, to see if they can develop, but not too much where they can’t learn it. It’s a fine line. For some it’s easy, for some it’s hard. We have to see in between the lines what’s what."

First pick Leonard Williams, as one would expect for one of the top players in the draft, felt the install went well.

"They kept it pretty simple for the first day, and when you know what you're doing, it allows you to play faster," Williams said. "I felt like I just tried my best to learn the system as fast as possible so I could go out there and play as fast as possible."

He also likes what he's seen of the Jets defensive scheme that he'll continue to learn in the coming weeks and months.

"We ran a lot of the same defenses at USC, like a 3-4 defense," he said. "But I think here, it’s a lot more attacking. At USC we did a lot of reading, trying to read the O-linemen and follow their footsteps, whereas here, we just take an initial step and then put our hands on the linemen. So far, we’ve been taking a lot of slants and stunts, getting a lot of D-line movement."

For No. 3 LB Lorenzo Mauldin, it was also about cleaning up things from his first couple of practices and diving headfirst into the playbook.

"I have to make sure I'm all in with this playbook," Mauldin said. "It's the main thing to understanding the defense and understanding the offense we're going against. It's not complex at all. It's just learning the new terminology, being able to go out and understand and transfer what we learned in the classroom out on the field."

The exciting part for all of these players is not only becoming pros — all signed their rookie contracts this week — but about joining what are shaping up to be some very dynamic units for the season ahead. Such as No. 2 pick WR Devin Smith joining a receivers room that includes productive pros Eric Decker, Brandon Marshall and Jeremy Kerley.

"Yes, it makes it a lot easier with guys like that as your teammates, so they can tell you everything that has helped them be successful and how to beat press coverage and how to get open," Smith said. "I’m looking forward to just learning from those guys."

Mauldin feels the same way about mixing in with veteran OLBs Calvin Pace and Quinton Coples.

"You've got an amazing depth chart with the New York Jets. I'm proud to be a part of that. Hopefully I'll get a chance to contribute early," Mauldin said. "Guys like Coples and [Calvin] Pace, of course, the guys I need to learn from. It's going to be a good experience. It feels good. Like I've said, it feels good to be here."

No. 4 Bryce Petty summed it up well:

"It’s a process. It’s one you have to take day by day. It’s a mountain that I’m ready to climb and that I’m excited to climb. Being in a spread offense where things might have been a little bit more simplistic in college and then coming here, being able to play quarterback a little bit — not that we didn’t in Baylor — you just get more on your plate here, which is what I love. It’s why you play the position."

Our 90-man roster at present breaks down like this: After today's signing of QB Jake Heaps and FB J.C. Copeland and the releases of CB Greg Henderson and S Demarkus Perkins, 43 offensive players, 42 defensive players and five specialists. Average age: 25.7 years. Average NFL experience before this year: 3.2 seasons.

Some more changes are likely between now and the start of training camp and then the start of the regular season. But most of the rookies are now folded in with the veterans heading into the Organized Team Activities phase of the calendar and the mandatory full-squad minicamp in June.


VIEW: Rookie Spotlight: Minicamp Day 2

READ: Leonard Williams Concludes Draft Signing Blitz

READ: Williams & Mauldin Are Birds of a Feather

WATCH: Bowles: 'Lot of Learning Going On'

WATCH: Miller: 'Love What the Jets Are Doing'

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