Granted, it’s early. And, conceivably, every rookie looks good in shorts.
But over the course of the Jets’ three-day mandatory minicamp, Dexter McDougle has garnered exceptionally high praise from his coaches.
“I think he is everything we thought he was going to be,” defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said Thursday. “He is a young, talented kid, he is very serious, he loves football. There are some guys that you look at them and you say, alright, he was built to play this position. He was built to play corner.”
McDougle, the last of the Jets’ 12 draft picks to ink his rookie deal, finally ditched the red non-contact jersey this week. And so far, his coaches like what they see.
Rex Ryan admitted earlier this week that he had some concerns about McDougle, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury at the start of his senior season at Maryland. But the Jets coach is now pleased he listened to Thurman.
“He doesn’t get adamant about all these guys,” Ryan said, referring to his defensive coordinator and good friend. “He was so excited about this young man. …He’s all business on the field. I think you saw a little bit of why we’re so excited about him and optimistic about him. He is physical. He’s able to press and get both hands on you in press. He’ll compete and I think those are things that we were looking to see and I think we saw today. All of us saw it.”
On Thursday, the final day of mandatory minicamp, Ryan highlighted a few players who have jumped out to him – and McDougle was one of them.
“They’re some young guys I’ve been impressed with, (Dexter) McDougle I’ve really been impressed with,” said the coach, who also mentioned veteran safety Dawan Landry and 2013 pick Oday Aboushi.
“What did (McDougle) have, two picks today or something like that? This young man is here to compete and challenge, so he’s been impressive.”
Thurman said the defense got “some things” accomplished during OTAs and minicamp. But the key right now is to find some backups – particularly at the cornerback and safety positions, he said.
Despite the lack of experience in their secondary, Thurman said “the talent is there.
"We know that we have guys that can play. We just have to make sure that we communicate the things that we are supposed to do. If we do that, I think we’ll be fine.”
Though Calvin Pryor has turned heads on the practice field – both for his play and his big mouth – Thurman didn’t give a definitive answer when asked if the first-round pick will start.
“Well, we will answer that after training camp,” the coordinator said. “But he’s a talented kid, we drafted him number one (on our board). We feel like he can bring a lot to our secondary, so we’ll see.”
Here are some other tidbits from Thurman’s interview:
On what he sees in Dimitri Patterson…
“Experience, a guy who knows how to play. (He) brings knowledge and depth to our secondary. He can play nickel as well, so right now we are very pleased with Dimitri.”
On if any of the undrafted free agents stood out to him…
"I mean they all have a chance. Anyone who is out there in uniform who has a helmet on has a chance, so right now we are not weeding anybody out."
On what he has seen in Ras-I Dowling…
"(He’s) a tall, physical, talented guy. We liked him coming out of Virginia a couple of years ago. Like I said he has to learn our system, learn how to do things our way, but he is going to be given an opportunity to compete and play."
On if he is pleased with what Quinton Coples has done…
"Oh, he’s come a long way. We are anticipating a big year for Que. He lost some weight. He understands the position a little bit better, so we are expecting big things from him."