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Zach Wilson makes great first impression with Jets teammates

Jets first-round draft pick Zach Wilson works out

Jets first-round draft pick Zach Wilson works out during NFL football rookie camp, Friday, May 7, 2021, in Florham Park, N.J. Credit: AP/Bill Kostroun

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Zach Wilson has already won over some of his new teammates.

This was before Wilson took the field Friday at the Jets' training facility for the start of this weekend’s rookie minicamp and long before the former BYU quarterback threw any of them a pass. It was during last week’s NFL Draft and the days that followed.

Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick, reached out to other players the Jets drafted last weekend to start building relationships.

After the Jets took wide receiver Elijah Moore in the second round, Wilson posted on Twitter that he was "pumped." He then texted Moore to say how "fired up" he was and then they started talking to each other on the phone.

"I could tell he was like a general by what he was saying," Moore said. "He’s super excited to be here as well. His passion comes through the phone."

Moore said they have spoken to each other just about every day since then, and they’ve looked up game film on each other.

"He’s someone that wasted no time," Moore said. "As soon as they got me, I started watching his highlights, he started watching mine. Just trying to see what I got and what he got. I’m going to do whatever I can to make him look good and vice versa."

This is certainly a good start for the Jets that their new quarterback already is showing leadership traits.

It wasn’t only the first day of camp for Wilson and the other rookies, it was Robert Saleh’s first as a head coach. Saleh’s message to all the rookies, and not just Wilson, was "introduce yourselves to us as much as we’re trying to introduce ourselves to you."

Saleh said it would be a "low pressure" camp. The players only received the playbook on Thursday. The goal was to show them schemes and teach fundamentals and technique. He’s trying to take some of the emphasis off Wilson, but Saleh also knows all eyes are on the young quarterback.

"The biggest thing that we’re trying to accomplish is to make sure that we’re growing as a football team first," Saleh said. "The questions about the quarterback, how he plays, the scrutiny and critique that he gets, I get it, that goes with the position.

"It’s our job as an entire organization to make sure everybody, all 53, are lifting one another and the entire organization is lifting all 53 in order to get us where we want to go in the future."

Wilson’s personality and desire to be great were among the reasons the Jets drafted him. His arm and ability to make plays on the run and off-schedule are a big factor, too.

The 21-year-old Wilson replaces Sam Darnold, who was touted similarly when the Jets drafted him third overall in 2018. But it took Darnold a little time before he felt comfortable displaying leadership.

It’s unclear whether Wilson has reached out to some of the older, more established players. But he’s already building a strong bond with the other players from his draft class.

"The more I talked to him I could see why people would say that [about his leadership], just because of his energy," said running back Michael Carter, the Jets' fourth-round pick. "He’s very positive. He’s not afraid to speak up, just turn off his persona and being able to tell he’s a genuine person.

"In terms of leadership, people want to follow people that are genuine and want the best for them. I can already tell just off the bat that he wants the best for the people around him, and he wants the best for the team."

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