Adam Gase has welcomed most of his rookie class to the Atlantic Health Training Center for a long weekend of orientation. And in the process, the Jets head coach entertained questions today for the first time on the team's draft choices as well as some of his veterans that are continuing their offseason work.
Naturally, Question 1 was about Round 1. Gase said "we were all excited" with the way the draft unfolded and Quinnen Williams, the young D-lineman out of Alabama, was waiting for them with the third pick of the draft.
"Anytime you have a guy that we see as a really talented player, a guy that put a lot of good tape out there his last year in college, and add that to the group we already have, I think it's really going to be something that could help our defense, especially up the middle," he said. "The push up the middle is going to be big for us, especially in this division."
But Gase also noted that Williams may not supply his part of the push from the same spot every play.
"With the way Gregg [Williams, defensive coordinator] does things, he'll play a lot of different spots," Gase said. "Nobody's really set in one area where you say he'll always be on the left, always be on the right, always be at 3 or nose. Gregg moves these guys around so much, it's really hard to pinpoint them. But we'll have a good mix of personnel groupings with those guys."
Gase moved on to third-round edge rusher Jachai Polite, like Quinnen Williams a 21-year-old draftee, who posted outstanding numbers for Florida last season but also unfurled a red flag or two off the field on his way to the draft.
"I don't think a lot of us had it figured out at 21," the coach said, while not minimizing the road ahead for Polite and the Jets' other rookies. "Whatever happened in the past is irrelevant to me. We started last night with our meetings. Moving forward, it's just going to be on him to do the right things and worry about what he can control, which is show up every day, be on time, know what you need to do, go out there and practice hard. He does that, it'll be smooth sailing for him."
And perhaps rough seas for opposing pass blockers if Polite grows as a pro.
"Anytime you have a guy that has a trait like he has, they're harder to find than you realize," Gase said. "To see the skillset that this guy has ... to me he's a fun guy to watch develop over time."
The only other rookies Gase touched on were third-round tackle Chuma Edoga, not at this orientation because he's graduating from Southern Cal, and fourth-round West Virginia TE Trevon Wesco. He said "there's a lot of work ahead" for Edoga but "I do think he's very talented." And he cited Wesco's flexibility as a "Y" tight end — "He's very versatile and he's able to really do all the things you want a tight end to do."
See the Jets Draft Picks During Their First Full Day at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center
Folding those new players into the offensive group should help with the ongoing progress that Gase sees second-year QB Sam Darnold making during the Phase 2 offseason workouts.
"I really like the way Sam works, I love the way he studies. The way he throws the ball is very impressive. He's just natural. He rolls out of bed and he can sling that thing," the coach said. "It's fun to be around how intense he is every day, trying to make sure he gets better."
Darnold and the offense is still working without RB Le'Veon Bell, but Gase said he expects the Jets' big-ticket free agent for next month's full-squad mandatory minicamp and in any event reminded that this part of the offseason program is voluntary.
"Everybody can get upset about it. There's no point," he said. "We know where he is. He's working out. Every year that he's played, he's been ready to go. So that's just what it is."
As for how he feels about the state of the Jets roster, now that the draft and the first wave of free agency are behind, Gase advised that good health will be the key.
"Right now I think we all feel pretty good. But we just need to stay healthy," he said. "That's going to be the biggest thing for us."