New York Jets OTA recap: Ranking the top performers including Elijah Moore, Michael Carter II and Zach Wilson
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New York Jets OTAs have concluded, and although minicamp is around the corner, a recap of the team’s top OTA performers is in order.

Robby Sabo

Practice. We’re sitting here, talking about practice? Not a game. Practice?

Those were the paraphrased words of Allen Iverson all those years ago when an innocent press conference turned legendary in a split second. Per the thoughts of the great Philadelphia 76ers point guard, “What the hell’s all this rage over practice?”

Don’t let that killer crossover fool you. Don’t allow that league to trick you. Practice in this sport, at this highest level of the National Football League, is critical.

New York Jets voluntary OTAs have concluded, but not before a handful of players whipped up the fanbase into a salivating state.

There was quarterback Zach Wilson, a kid who looked like a veteran at times. There was new guy Carl Lawson, whose arrival last week provided Jets fans with the hope that their edge-rushing hole has finally been filled. There was also new head coach Robert Saleh, a leader whose idea of a team is led by family values.

No shortage of Jet excitement existed in Florham Park these past couple of weeks, and Jets X-Factor was there to experience it first-hand. So, let’s rank the top performers, shall we?

Notable disappointments

  • Chris Herndon
  • Mike White
  • James Morgan
  • Blessuan Austin
  • Javelin Guidry

Before we dive into the top performers, let’s take a quick look at the notable disappointments.

Yes, Chris Herndon deserves to be in the mix here. One particular play in team sessions saw the ball hit Herndon right in the hands in the middle of the field. Young safety J.T. Hassell picked up an easy interception thanks to the popped-up football.

It could be argued that Wilson put a little too much steam on the ball, but Herndon didn’t get his head around fast enough. Although that notable bad play and his number of reps weren’t impressive, Herndon’s overall OTA production can’t be labeled as a complete disaster.

Perhaps the most alarming Joe Douglas note of OTAs is that this team needs a veteran backup quarterback. Mike White is currently not matching his impressive training camp of last year, while James Morgan has played even worse.

Blessuan Austin and Javelin Guidry’s inclusion are for similar yet different reasons. In Austin’s case, injury took him out. On the surface, he shouldn’t get hammered for that fact. Then again, those who replaced him have turned some heads.

A healthy Guidry also saw young kids behind him open some eyes—something that makes his inclusion necessary.

Disclaimer: Considering the nature of OTAs (not live football), evaluating offensive linemen, defensive linemen and even linebackers is a tough chore. Therefore, the other positions enjoyed a leg-up on the competition.

Notables

  • Jason Pinnock
  • Isaiah Dunn
  • Elijah Campbell
  • Bryce Hall
  • J.T. Hassell
  • Trevon Wesco
  • Tyler Kroft
  • Manasseh Bailey

The best sign that things are heading in the right direction is that this list is littered with rookies.

Rookie Jason Pinnock enjoyed plenty of first-team reps last week once Austin went down. He and fellow rookie Isaiah Dunn rotated at the right cornerback spot for most of the week.

When OTAs first started, Elijah Campbell appeared to be the lead horse in the slot, which automatically places him on this list. The previously mentioned Hassell also enjoyed first-team reps opposite Lamarcus Joyner, while Marcus Maye and Ashtyn Davis were absent.

Interestingly, while the defense didn’t rotate as much, the offense did. Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur made sure to rotate offensive weapons for Wilson.

One guy whose role is cemented in an “old reliable” way is Trevon Wesco. Not only did he do his regular fullback thing, but he also caught a couple of passes as an inline tight end.

Tyler Kroft is the tight end that may have received the most love. It’s obvious that he’s extremely versatile. The man can block, catch passes, and will be used in a variety of ways within this offense.

Little known Manasseh Bailey is a slot guy who took advantage of LaFleur’s rotation. He caught balls from White, Morgan and Wilson, helping everybody come to the realization that this offense is loaded with shifty slot weapons (speaking from an overall depth perspective).

Now, to the top performers.

8. Michael Carter

One cut and bang. The thing about the wide zone is that the running back needs to read things efficiently. Reading hats and deciding on a path is of the utmost importance, and rookie running back Michael Carter showcased it nicely in his first taste of big-boy football.

One notable play featured Carter cutting quickly to the inside on a right-side outsize zone. He saw the defense’s over-pursuit and made them pay. If not a 50-plus-yard score, Carter would have ripped off 20-plus on the rep.

7. Tevin Coleman

No, Tevin Coleman is no rookie. He still showcased his versatility, though.

Whether it was LaFleur’s familiar zone-ground game or taking advantage of defenders in the flat off the boot, the former San Francisco 49ers back played well. He’s an excellent route-runner for a running back and catches nearly everything thrown his way.


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Robby Sabo is a co-founder, CEO and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor - Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. SEO: XL Media. Founder/Consultant: Elite Sports NY - ESNY. Email: robby.sabo@jetsxfactor.com

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