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Jets HC Robert Saleh Sees a Lot to Like in the First Practice of Rookie Minicamp

He Dishes on QB Jordan Travis, WR Malachi Corley and the '24 Draft Class, 'a Group We're Excited About'


Robert Saleh was wearing the look of a new season shifting into its next gear on his face Friday afternoon.

"It's awful fun to get those guys out there, 9-on-9, 11-on-11, get them out there competing," the Jets head coach said after the first practice of the team's non-contact rookie minicamp was in the books and on the video. "It's an exciting group to work with, for sure. There's still a lot of work to be done, the number one thing keeping all these guys healthy. But it's a group we're excited about."

Within the group of seven draft choices plus 17 undrafted free agents and 47 tryout candidates, the questions for Saleh focused on the "interior" of those draft picks, from Round 3-6, ahead of practices the next two days at the Atlantic Health Training Center.

As might be expected, the fifth-round quarterback, Jordan Travis, drew several questions even though he'll continue to rehab his ankle injury from late last season with Florida State so that he might be ready to start training camp.

"I feel like he's kind of a ball of clay," Saleh said of Travis' combination of skills. "He's a tremendously talented young man and extremely gifted, especially athletically. He's got a lot of work to do, he hasn't even scratched the surface. He's winning games doing things that were just pure athleticism, and if we can tie the football part to it, I think we've got ourselves a damn good player."

Saleh didn't field many questions on first-rounder Olu Fashanu, one of the draft's top tackles who came to the Jets with the 11th overall pick. One thing the coach did indicate was that the former Penn State player will see a lot of work from now through the end of training camp as the Jets keep watch on the activity from their new veteran bookend 33-year-old tackles, Tyron Smith and Morgan Moses.

"It benefits all of them — Olu, Carter [Warren], Max [Mitchell]," he said of more reps for his younger linemen. "When we do manage [Tyron], and we're going to do our best for Morgan, too, those guys are going to get a lot of reps at both tackle spots."

Much of Saleh's and the Jets' coaches' and fans' excitement for this draft is tied to how well WR Malachi Corely, taken with the first pick of Round 3, adapts to the pro game. The Jets coaches like what he's bringing to the table but of course there's more to teach.

"He is raw from a route-running-ability standpoint, so we're obviously attacking that," Saleh said. "Getting him the ball and the creativity that comes with it, I think we're all having a lot of fun looking at ways to get him the ball. He is a smart kid so he can absorb it. For him, we're always talking about these 'Just One Thing,' JOT tapes, and his one thing is route refinement."

Saleh also admires Corley's instinct of, as the WR put it after his day two draft selection, "running dudes over." It's a power-running instinct the coach also sees, among other qualities, in the drafted running backs that sandwiched the Travis selection, fourth-rounder Braelon Allen, at 235 pounds, and 5-B pick Isaiah Davis, at 220.

"They both have tremendous mental makeup, their size, their physicality," he said. "Braelon's so young, he's still a pup, he hasn't even figured out his body yet. But they're highly productive players, they have great vision, great running styles, great demeanor, great work ethic. So they match the character that we covet."

Saleh wasn't asked about Mr. Irrelevant, S Jaylen Key, but he did take a question on sixth-round CB Qwan'tez Stiggers regarding his pass/fail potential in the NFL after having no college experience, one season in the Fan Controlled Football league and last year in the CFL.

"He's got a tremendous skillset, for one," he said. "The reason we don't think he'll fail is his mindset. ... He's a phenomenal athlete, but he's got an elite makeup. You can put him up against any corner with regards to athleticism and all that. But it's his strain and his mindset that we're excited about."

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