Rookie WR Garrett Wilson had 3 catches for 15 yards in the first quarter of Monday's 24-16 preseason victory against Atlanta. His grabs did not make the final headlines. But he displayed "freakish" abilities that make the Jets excited about his future.
"I love his mindset," HC Robert Saleh said. "Love where he is at. And even for him to continue to get bigger and stronger, he is only going to get better. He is going to be a cool player."
The Green & White selected Wilson with the No. 10 pick of April's NFL Draft after he caught 70 passes for 1,058 yards and 12 touchdowns in 11 games last season for the Buckeyes. He showed an impressive ability to get separation at the college level and caught 2 passes for 25 yards in his preseason debut against Philadelphia. Against Atlanta, it was more of the same.
Matched up on Pro Bowl CB Casey Hayward on the Jets' first offensive series, he ran an out route against the sideline and cut just quick enough to create separation. QB Mike White fired the ball to the sideline and Wilson caught it for a 4four-yard gain.
"He's got freakish body control," Saleh said. "He has an ability to create separation with his lower half and how he runs his routes."
On Wilson's final drive of the night, the Jets' second, he showed off his "violent hands,." in Saleh's words. In press coverage, he fought off the line vertically, and when the ball arrived, he quickly turned and snatched it for 7 yards.
"I mean, he can snag a ball if it is there," Saleh said. "There's a couple of [passes] that were tight window catches that he had."
Commentator and former QB Dan Orlovsky also praised the catch on ESPN's national broadcast: "Watch the pluck. … His feet are off the ground, and he just shows incredible body control."
A play later, on third down, Wilson caught a pass on a drag route. He was tripped up from behind, nearly breaking it for chunk yardage.
"I thought he was going to be able to keep his feet and convert on that third down," White said. "But Garrett's been one of those guys that just keeps getting better every day."
See the best images from the preseason victory over Atlanta on Monday Night Football.
Wilson may have missed a big-play opportunity on his final catch, but he surely learned from it. During the preseason, he has given distinct value to every snap. He sees every play as an opportunity to improve and has performed with 5five catches in limited action.
"You tell him one thing and he puts his twist and his special dynamic in it," White said. "But he never makes the same mistake twice. It seems like he just keeps improving. And as a rookie, especially as a receiver, that is what you want to see because they are not going to come in and get everything right all the time."
And already, Wilson's performances have White and Saleh thinking about his future.
"No one's going to do everything right, and especially a rookie," White said. "So, to see him be able to take the coaching and play within the scheme, but still add his special, unique skills and that's what's going to make him a really good player down the road."