N.Y. Jets rookie minicamp: What we learned

Quarterback Darnold, other rookies show off over the weekend.


(Photo Credit: USA Today via Reuters/Noah K. Murray)

The New York Jets were one of nine NFL teams to hold their rookie minicamp over the weekend. While all eyes were naturally on No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold, the Jets also got a first look at some other newcomers they hope can make an impact this season:

Sam is the man

Judging by nj.com’s assessment of Darnold’s work after the first two days of minicamp, he would seem to be ready to lead the team right now. Accuracy has always been one of Darnold’s strong points after completing 64.9 percent of his passes in two seasons at USC, and he apparently didn’t disappoint from that standpoint over the weekend.

(Photo Credit: USA Today via Reuters/Noah K. Murray)

Mobility was another area where Darnold shined during the minicamp. He has a huge advantage in that area over the soon-to-be 39-year-old Josh McCown, who was sacked 39 times last season. 

Overall, Darnold looked to have displayed why the Jets made the move to get him in last month’s draft and why he will compete for the starting job right out of the gate.

Last season, New York ranked 24th in the league in passing (198.9 yards per game), tied for 25th in passing touchdowns (19) and was 28th in total offense (305.2 yards per game). The Jets also failed to boast either a 1,000-yard rusher or 1,000-yard receiver and did not score over seven points in three of their final four contests of the 2017 campaign.

Leading his own flock

While the Jets will eventually lean on Darnold to revive a middling offense, third-round pick Nathan Shepherd will be asked to help boost a defense that has totaled only 55 sacks over the last two seasons.

The defensive tackle out of Kansas’ Fort Hays State worked his way on and off the field to reach the NFL, and expects the hard work to continue with New York. Shepherd, who checks in at 6-foot-2, 289 pounds, should get a serious shot to help fill the void left when the team released Muhammad Wilkerson in February. 

New York also selected defensive lineman Folorunso Fatukasi from Connecticut in the sixth round.

The Cannon is ready

New York used its final pick of the draft, in the sixth round, to take running back Trenton Cannon from Division II Virginia State. Though Cannon should have a hard time cracking a backfield group that includes veterans Isaiah Crowell, Bilal Powell and Thomas Rawls, his real value could come in the return game.

(Photo Credit: USA Today via Reuters/Noah K. Murray)

That’s where Cannon, the first of New York’s draft picks to sign, saw a good deal of time on the weekend, and could be the answer to its recent return woes. The Jets ranked 23rd last season averaging 20.1 yards on kickoff returns and were at the bottom of the league with just 4.5 yards per punt return.

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