Zach Wilson and Elijah Moore have been building chemistry on the football field and it’s something they hope to strengthen off of it, also.
Wilson and Moore have some natural connections. The obvious ones are quarterback to receiver, and both are rookies, trying to learn a new system and figure out the NFL. But they also share a desire to be the best possible player they can be. Wilson said Moore’s passion makes him gravitate toward him.
"He wants to be great," Wilson said. "I spend a lot of time with him and he’s someone I want to be around because he wants to be great. He’s definitely a motivating person. We’re going to have a good time doing this thing together because he’s going to be a good player."
The Jets’ dream is that the two will be really good players together for a long time.
Moore was one of Wilson’s favorite targets during voluntary OTAs and the mandatory minicamp, which ended Thursday. Moore, the Jets’ second-round pick out of Ole Miss, stood out by catching just about any ball thrown to him, his speed and ability to create separation around the goal line during red zone periods.
None of this is by accident.
Moore was often on the Jets’ practice field between 6:30 and 7 many mornings to work on his route running and catching balls shot out of the JUGS passing machine. Many days, the Jets didn’t take the field until around 11 a.m.
"It says that this guy wants to be really, really good in this league and he wants to make a name for himself," offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said. "He’s so internally motivated and driven that you can just tell. Even on the good stuff, it doesn’t matter to him. It’s like literally the next play, ‘What can I do better?’ Sometimes it’s like, ‘Elijah, I really don’t have a coaching point for you right there. It’s really good.’
"There’s no doubt he’s going to work to be the best he can be starting right from the get-go and continue on. You can see with some rookies that come into this league, ‘Just give me a year and I’ll figure out this game.’ He doesn’t want to wait a year. He wants it now. And he’s going for it. I think it shows out there."
Moore is extremely versatile. He can line up in the slot, on the outside, be used in sweeps. He also can play on special teams as a returner. Moore’s arrival contributed to the Jets asking and getting productive slot receiver Jamison Crowder to restructure his deal and take a pay cut.
The night Moore was drafted, he was with Titans receiver A.J. Brown, his former college teammate. Brown got emotional and told Moore that he knew he was special. Brown also texted new Jets receiver and ex-Tennessee teammate Corey Davis and told him to look out for "his little brother." Davis told Brown he would.
"He’s out there making plays left and right and he’s really hungry to do more," Davis said. "He’s a perfectionist. He’s always trying to better his game. I love that about him. He’s a great player, even better person."
Wilson plans to get together with his skill players, including Moore, to keep building familiarity with the offense and each other before training camp starts next month. Moore spoke highly of Wilson before playing with him. Now after spending the spring with him, he said it’s been great working with Wilson and helping one other.
"We’re both out there learning, both out there trying to critique ourselves," Moore said. "There’s always something that we have to work on or something better that we could have done. It’s constantly critiquing each other. Even when we win and we score, there’s always something better that we could have done."
Moore has made a number of acrobatic receptions during the spring, and his burst to break away after the catch is impressive.
"When the guy’s not thinking he is a great player," Wilson said. "He has so much potential. That’s life with everyone right now, we’re all thinking. But every once in a while, you catch the glimpse of whether you throw a ball at his knee or above his head, he catches it so well and is able to transition up the field.
"It’s so natural for him, his ability to catch the ball and get up the field. He’s a very smooth player."