Rookie minicamp is always a very exciting time for coaches and fans alike. For coaches and fans, it’s the first glance at their draft picks and potential undrafted free agents. For players, it’s the first time they get to work with their future coaches and prove their value.
Unfortunately, these minicamps are not accurate depictions of how players skill because of its very short duration and its lack of contact along with limited interaction with the rest of the team. However, the rookie minicamp is the first real test of character, where coaches can begin to observe the maturity and personality of their players.
The player who was in the spotlight the most through camp was the Jets’ first round pick Darron Lee. Darron Lee has the media’s attention for two reasons; the first being that he is the Jets’ eighth consecutive defensive first round pick and the second being that Darron Lee is the first of many steps to transition to a younger, faster defense.
This minicamp was the first time that coaches and fans got to see how Darron Lee would react to being in a professional environment. Throughout camp, Lee displayed one really strong trait and one concerning trait. The strong was his excitement and eagerness. The bad was his excitement and eagerness. But how could that be both good and bad?
Obviously, it is a good sign when players are so eager to play. It shows that they are committed to the team but that they also have a love of football. That love of football is what is most important. That love of football and love of winning is what makes a 6th round pick like Tom Brady a Hall of Famer and the lack of love is what turns higher picks like Geno Smith into benchwarmers.
Darron Lee showed his love of football on one particular play in minicamp. Minicamp is supposed to be noncontact but during one drill, Lee was so into it that he ran at top speed and took down the ball carrier. Lee assured there “was no motive behind it…(he) just got a little overaggressive and the guy just happened to be there.” This kid is passionate about football, and that excites everyone.
But this outburst of excitement may reveal a deeper problem. Todd Bowles is a coach that is all about discipline. He even made the team do sprints in 95º weather last season after a fight broke out in camp. This blatant disregard for rules earned Lee a scolding from Bowles and shows that Lee may have some growing up to do between now and September 11th. Honestly, with Todd Bowles at the helm and veteran LB David Harris at his side, I think Lee will have no trouble adapting to the New York Jets locker room mentality but it is something to look out for.
Overall, Lee was a good pick for the team, and it’s fair to say that each rookie has a lot to learn. Darron Lee must learn to channel his love of football into focus and poise instead of reckless takedowns.
But the kid’s excited, now let’s see what he can do.