OTA’s are done, and minicamp is over. That means it’s time to talk about the New York Jets who are trending up approaching training camp. To preface this list, two points must be made in regards to players who have showed out so far in OTA’s and Minicamp. The first is that the padless nature of OTA’s, along with the Jets’ utilization of lower intensity practices has meant that essentially it’s been a passing camp up to this point. As a result, we are primarily looking at passers and pass catchers, not blockers or ball carriers. The other is of course just a disclaimer: We cannot project this list directly into who will have the best season, all we can do is keep tabs on those who have stood out or shown significant improvement.
See Also: 5 New York Jets who are Trending Up: Defense
Tyler Conklin, TE, #83
Based on multiple reports, the 6’3” TE that the Jets signed in free agency is already making his mark. Conklin’s fluid route running and ball skills that showed up on tape with the Vikings have been on full display so far, and his ability to adjust to the ball in the air has produced a number of highlight catches. Conklin is the perfect fit for the “F” or “Flex” TE position in the Jets offense, which means he will line up and run routes from a large variety of positions.
Whether it’s in-line, split out in the slot, from the backfield, or even as the occasional perimeter receiver, Conklin is primed to be one of the most versatile offensive players on the Jets. With limited physicality by the defense leading up to training camp, this is a perfect opportunity for big bodied pass catchers to stand out in practice.
Right where it needs to be.@ZachWilson ➡ @T_Conk1 pic.twitter.com/5WKQUKj3rR
— New York Jets (@nyjets) June 16, 2022
Garrett Wilson, WR, #17
While the expectations might be high for WR Garrett Wilson, the Jets’ offense under Mike LaFleur (which is an offshoot of the Shanahan offense in San Francisco) is not the most conducive to rookie WR impact. It asks a lot of the position, from wordy play calls, to alignment versatility, and precision route running. The good news is that early comments from Jets internally, whether it be players or coaches, consistently praise the number ten pick’s intelligence at the position.
While it’s wise to temper expectations for the young receiver, there is plenty to suggest Wilson will develop into a key part of the Jets’ offense relatively quickly. Now, that might be anywhere from mid-rookie season to his sophomore season, and there would be no problem with that. However, Wilson has already flashed signs of his true early impact potential: big plays and spectacular catch ability. He may not be ready to post 70 catches as a rookie, but his speed, hang time, and mid-air contortionist act can supply the Jets with game changing plays in the mean time.
Lawrence Cager, TE, #81
Lawrence Cager is a converted WR, and is the longest shot to make the active roster on this list. Originally, Cager was an undrafted free agent WR in 2020, out of the University of Georgia. Cager’s 6’5” frame and WR experience make him a mismatch for the safeties, linebackers, and nickel corners who line match up against him, and it’s no surprise that he had similar advantages to Conklin in the recent OTA environment.
Cager has had multiple flashes so far, and is a major red zone threat. The biggest question that Cager will have to answer in training camp is whether he can bring anything at all to the blocking game. Currently listed at 220 lbs, he may need to add more weight to be a viable TE, but only time will tell. If he does make the roster, it will likely be as Conklin’s backup at the “F” TE position.
Minicamp: Day 1️⃣
"Let's be great." – @lawrencecager3 pic.twitter.com/mUWmXGrItP
— New York Jets (@nyjets) June 14, 2022
Jeff Smith, WR, #16
Even longtime Jets fans can’t be criticized for sleeping on Jeff Smith. As an undrafted free agent signing out of Boston College in 2019, Smith was a QB turned WR/all purpose weapon at BC. Despite three seasons in the NFL, Smith has only totaled 290 yards receiving. His ability to stick with the organization through those years was more a result of poor depth than standout play if we’re honest with ourselves. That is, until the arrival of Mike LaFleur, which might just be the perfect schematic transition for Smith’s profile.
Smith’s all around skill set lends itself perfectly to the arsenal of jet motion, gadget, and trick plays that LaFleur employs. While Braxton Berrios is the lead in that role, the presence of Smith ensures those plays remain available even if Berrios is forced to miss any time. Throughout OTA’s, Smith’s consistent playmaking suggests this theoretical scheme fit is becoming more of a reality by the day. Additionally, Smith’s value as a special teams contributor can’t go unmentioned.
Zach Wilson, QB, #2
What is there to say about Zach Wilson’s rookie season that hasn’t already been said one hundred times over? It covered just about every high and low one can imagine. Complete a quarter of football with more interceptions than completions? Check. Drop bombs on the number one seed Titans for his first win? Check. Miss a chunk of the season to injury? Check. Go toe to toe with Tom Brady for a chance to win the game? Check, and that hardly scratches the surface of the up’s and downs for Wilson in year one.
Year two holds a lot more promise for the young QB, and his performance over the recent mandatory minicamp is a step in the right direction. After committing to changing his body in the offseason, Wilson arrived noticeably more muscular particularly in his lower half. Considering Wilson is already a tremendous athlete with a world class arm, the body transformation is more about protection that performance. After some questionable OTA practices to kick off 2022, the Jets year two QB seems to have settled in nicely throughout minicamp.
Zach Wilson had a good day today. His passes were crisp and he looked decisive. Best practice I've seen from Garrett Wilson. He had one catch with amazing body control. Jeff Smith and Lawrence Cager keep showing up.
— Brian Costello (@BrianCoz) June 14, 2022
Bonus: Denzel Mims, WR, #11
There is no disputing Jets’ former second round pick from 2020 had a wildly disappointing sophomore season. After suffering dramatic weight loss due to food poisoning in the offseason, the 6’3″ receiver never seemed to get his confidence back on the field. Whether it was being a healthy game day scratch, lining up incorrectly, or stepping out of bounds in the end zone… It seemed like nothing could go right for Mims.
This season has a different feeling, with multiple coaches going out of their way to mention the good mindset and excellent shape that Mims came into OTA’s with this year. With a loaded roster at the WR position, Mims is a potential training camp trade piece for WR needy teams. Whether he remains a Jet in 2022 or is traded to a team with a better potential scheme fit, no one is complaining about Mims showing up and turning heads this year.
Follow Max on Twitter: @TheMaxDean
For More Great Football Content
Follow us on Twitter at @GridironHeroics for more great content. We appreciate you taking time to read our articles. To interact more with our community and keep up to date on the latest in Football news, JOIN OUR FREE FACEBOOK GROUP by CLICKING HERE
Pingback: Three Preseason Trade Candidates on the New York Jets - Gridiron Heroics
Pingback: 5 New York Jets who are Trending up: Defense - Gridiron Heroics