Jets Coach Robert Saleh called him "wiggly." Others have called him the 6-0, 192-pound wide receiver "willowy." Regardless of the adjectives, Garrett Wilson is part of a special group -- one of three first-round draft picks. The key difference is that the other two top picks, Sauce Gardner and Jermaine Johnson, play defense.
What the Jets offense is counting on is the development of Wilson & Wilson, LLC, a potentially long-lasting connection between second-year quarterback Zach Wilson and the Ohio State product who turned 22 years old a few weeks ago.
"I feel like it's good," Garrett Wilson said about the budding chemistry between the two who hope to bring the Green & White a lot of W's over the years. "We just have to keep building. It's only four days into camp and I think we're in a good place. I want to pick it up, but that comes with time and reps."
The rookie receiver was the only non-veteran who joined the quarterback and others for a three-day team-building retreat recently in Idaho. Garrett Wilson on Saturday said that he was tickled to be included in the small group.
"That was an awesome experience to spend time with some veterans on the team and see how they train and spend their time off," he said. "I had time to talk with [Joe] Flacco, he dropped some nuggets on me. I have to be a sponge and made sure that during the whole trip I was able to build chemistry with Zach and Joe. It was a good experience with me being out there."
The pass-catching Wilson has turned a few heads during the first week of training camp at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. He is extremely versatile and gives offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur several options along with the Jets' veteran receivers like Corey Davis and Braxton Berrios, and the "young veterans" like Elijah Moore, Denzel Mims and Jeff Smith.
"It's a young group," head coach Robert Saleh said on Saturday. "But at the same time, what is going to be fun is watching this group gel and create its own identity. Obviously, we have some good, young players and they're all going to grow together."
Wilson was a three-sport star at Lake Travis (TX) High School who turned down a basketball scholarship offer to return to his home state of Ohio and play for the Buckeyes. Last season, his third at Ohio State, he had 70 receptions for 1,058 yards and 12 touchdowns. He's got 4.38-second speed in the 40, strong hands and runs precise routes.
But what stood out in college and during the past week of training camp is Wilson's ability to adjust his body, make the catch and then, literally, hit the ground running. During practice on Saturday, he failed to hold onto a high pass thrown by Wilson, a missed play that dogged him even as he spoke to reporters. The effort highlighted Wilson's unique athleticism as he soared into the air to get two hands on the ball.
"I feel a big part of my game is that I want to catch everything thrown my way," he said. "Any receiver, you get the ball thrown at you — you want to make every play. That's a huge part of my game. I put a lot of emphasis on winning 50/50 balls. I'm working on that. I don't want to beat myself up too hard. I know what I'm capable of and every time Zach trusts me to make a play, I have to make it because you don't know when's the next time they're coming back to you. I'm hard on myself. I don't need a coach to tell me."
Wilson's superpower, if you will, is his ability to use his speed and body control to help make LaFleur's sophisticated and varied playbook come alive. He fits the offense. The offense fits him.
"The entire rookie class is very competitive, they all want to do their best," Saleh said. "They want to be counted on. He [Garrett Wilson] wants to make plays for the quarterback and for the team. I love his mindset and how important the game is to him. That's why guys like him succeed ... everything means something to him."