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Jets HC Robert Saleh on the Draft: 'Excited for Every Single Pick We Have'

Says of 2021 Rookie Class: 'Some Really Cool Players' Will Be Arriving 


If you want to know the level of excitement that first-year Jets head coach Robert Saleh has for next week's draft, you only have to ask him about the second overall pick, of which general manager Joe Douglas has said it's "a fair assessment" that pick will be spent on one of the top quarterbacks available.

"This is cliché, I'm sorry, but I'm excited for every single pick we have," Saleh told a Jets reporter who asked him about QB during today's Zoom predraft news conference. "I do believe Joe and his staff have such a great bead on the players that are entering the draft. We're going to have some really cool players that come into this building. So the level of excitement for every single player, even our players [already on the roster], to get on the grass with all of them, to shape them all into our schemes, see how they all fit, see how they all work within it, it's an exciting time.

"My excitement goes beyond just the No. 2 pick. It goes to the 23rd, 34th, 66th, 86th. It goes to all of them. So not to bore you with cliché answers, but I'm excited for all of it."

And Saleh even had all the exact positions of the Jets' five picks in the first three rounds nailed. Not that most NFL head coaches don't, but it's rare to hear an HC rattle off those numbers like that.

For the record, Saleh, like Douglas, isn't tipping the Jets' hand on No. 2 or on any of the other nine selections the Jets have from Thursday through Saturday. But he told Eric Allen of the kind of player he's looking for at that all-important position on the offense.

"The quarterback's going to naturally have to be able to throw the football. He's got to be fearless in the pocket. He's got to be a great processor of information and make the right decisions," Saleh said. "After that, what's your flavor? You want someone who's more mobile, someone who's bigger? But fearless and can throw the ball, that's what you want."

Saleh also addressed the systems that his new QB, all his signal-callers, and all his players on both sides of the ball will be trying to master in the coming weeks and months.

"The scheme that [O-coordinator Mike] LaFleur is bringing in is the best scheme in the world from an offensive standpoint, in my opinion," he said. "Defensively, we're a lot further along with regards to how we've evolved since those Seattle days back in 2013, so it's kind of taken on a life of its own. So we're very confident in the systems we're bringing in, very confident in our ability to develop and help players reach their maximum potential."

One more generic trait that Saleh wants to see in all his players is their enthusiasm quotient, or "how much they love ball."

"I've always believed that if a player loves football, they'll usually protect football off the field," he said. "They'll do everything they can to prepare to be the best football player they can be, off the field, on the field, in the meeting rooms. Whatever they have to do. So usually for us, we judge players by how much they love ball, and you can tell through the process. That's where I think our scouting department has done such a great job, really digging into the character of these individuals and finding out who they are and where they stand."

Besides the draft, Saleh was pitched some questions about several veterans:

MLB C.J. Mosley: "It really doesn't matter what the scheme is, he's going to fit. He's been a fantastic player his entire life and that's not going to change just because a new coaching staff has come in. He's a tremendous leader, a tremendous player. He hasn't played in a couple of years so you know he's just chomping at the bit to get back on the field."

QB Sam Darnold, whose trade to the Panthers supercharged all the speculation about the No. 2 pick: "I'm excited for Sam. It's a great opportunity for him to fulfill what he's capable of in being the No. 3 pick. Of all the things that have transpired, I'm most excited for Sam and him getting the opportunity to do great things in Carolina."

Free agent CB Richard Sherman: "Obviously, you know I love Sherm. There's a lot of things I'll leave for Joe with regards to that. There's a lot of things that go into play. That's probably more Joe's alley."

Now the focus is on the draft. Saleh gave Douglas more kudos for the stuff up his alley and praised the players who are already on the roster as well as those about to arrive next week via the draft and undrafted free agency — and in the process showed his quick familiarity with an anti-Jets mantra in the process.

"It is cool," he said about several of the veteran free agent signings talking about wanting to play for him. "But it's more of a testament to the players. They see the things we're doing in this organization. You can always beat the narrative 'Same Old Jets,' but it's not. ... Its a tremendous group of leaders, tremendous character. These young men love to play. That's all you want. Whatever their 'why' is, it doesn't matter. They just love ball."

That was Saleh's take on the free agent class so far, but now his focus has swiveled to Cleveland and the draft that begins in less than a week.

"Joe and his staff, they've got a great feel for the draft, a great feel for the scheme that we run, a great feel for all the players that are entering draft, so we're excited to go through the process as he leads way.

"And we're excited for Thursday."

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