Last week, the New York Jets drafted Ohio State offensive lineman, Zach Wilson, with the 118th overall pick in the draft. But, fans (and the media) are praising the pick for a bigger reason: the fact that it’s a sign that the Jets are taking a step towards rebuilding.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a big Josh McCown fan, but I haven’t been a fan of his play over the past two games. After a big loss to the Cowboys, and a loss to the Ravens in Baltimore, McCown is getting a lot of flack from the media and fans, who are saying he has regressed in his play. Others, like myself, are a bit sympathetic to his situation, as he is a rookie, and there are some growing pains that come with being a new player in the NFL.
Rookie mini-camp, OTAs and mandatory mini-camp are the first opportunity for NFL players, coaches and fans to get a glimpse of a team’s rookie class before training camp begins in late July. One rookie is getting a lot of attention during the New York Jets’ workouts, but it’s not Zach Wilson, the second pick. After selecting Wilson from BYU and quarterback Alijah Vera-Tucker from USC in the first round, the Jets took wide receiver Elijah Moore from Ole Miss in the second round. If the praise from the Jets camp is any indication, the sixth WR on the roster could very well be one of the draft’s stealers.
New York Jets pick WR Elijah Moore of Ole Miss as 34th overall
Elijah Moore | Photo Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images Moore grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In high school, he played for the renowned St. Louis football program. St. Mary’s. Thomas Aquinas, who has trained many NFL players, including Michael Irvin, Geno Atkins and the Bosa brothers. Moore shined in high school and became an Under Armour All American, a four-star recruit for ESPN and number 160 on the ESPN 300, according to OleMissSports.com. The 6-foot-5 Florida native broke through on Ole Miss’ team and immediately excelled as a kick returner. In his first start as a wideout, Moore caught 11 balls for 129 yards, an Ole Miss rookie record for receptions and yards per game. After another good year as a sophomore, Moore had a historic year as a junior, playing just eight games in 2020. He set school records for receptions (86), yards (1,193) and touchdowns (8). Based on his performance, he was named a first team All-American. In addition to his college accomplishments, Moore impressed during workouts during the draft. His 17 reps on the bench press were top 10 among receivers, and he finished second in the class. He was also the seventh-fastest player in 2021 with a time of 4.35 in the 40-meter dash. Moore, who was selected early in the second round of the 2021 draft, is part of the Jets’ historic draft class.
Rookie Elijah Moore gets rave reviews from Zach Wilson and Mike LaFleur
How Moore made an immediate impact after his transfer from St. Louis St. Joseph’s. Thomas Aquinas to Ole Miss, so the Jets could have the same impact. Moore has already impressed in pre-draft camp, and his offensive coordinator and new QB have noticed, according to NewYorkJets.com. Wilson wants his new catcher to catch his poorly pitched balls. He also likes the sweetness of Moore: Every now and then you get a glimpse like that, when you throw the ball in his lap or over his head and he catches it so well and can move around the field. It’s so natural for him, his ability to catch the ball and run across the field. A very balanced player. For the Jets’ new offensive coordinator, Mike Lafleur, Moore’s work ethic is even more remarkable than his skills: The interesting thing about Elijah is that the man just works. I know a lot of people say that, but he spends a lot of time, whether it’s 7am at JUGS, in the house, in meetings, or preparing script productions. Lafleur summed up his relationship with Moore by saying he was fun to coach.
Jets will have new attack in 2021
The New York Jets, under LaFleur and new head coach Robert Saleh, have rebuilt their offense for the 2021 season. In addition to selling starting QB Sam Darnold and selecting a potential new starter in Wilson, the team has rebuilt or revamped every position group on the offensive side of the ball. Moore joins a deep and talented group of WRs who were joined in the offseason by coveted free agent Corey Davis of the Tennessee Titans. Those two, along with veteran Jamison Crowder and sophomore Denzel Mims, are the team’s core at the outside positions. Running backs Frank Gore and Le’Veon Bell are no longer at running back. Instead, the team brought in Tevin Coleman from the San Francisco 49ers to complement the young and talented La’Michal Perine and Ty Johnson. Last year’s group remained largely at tight end, but they added Tyler Croft from the Buffalo Bills. Up front, Vera-Tucker, a No. 14 forward in 2021, will sit alongside Mehi Becton, a No. 11 forward in 2020. On the other lines, Dan Feeney, who became a free agent, will team up with Connor McGovern, Greg Van Roten and George Phantom, last season’s starters. Jets fans should hope the revamped offense produces better results than the 2020 version, which finished last in yards scored, yards per play and total points. If the new team succeeds, it could take the franchise back to the playoffs for the first time since 2010. All statistics are from Pro Football Reference EPILOGUE: New York Jets make same mistake with Zach Wilson as they did with Sam Darnold
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