Darnold Returns to Jets, But Other Rookies Shine in His Absence

Darnold Returns to Jets, But Other Rookies Shine in His Absence
Parry Nickerson catches a pass at Jets OTAs. (Courtesy Dan Szpakowski)

Finally. If I had to guess, I would have bet that you could hear the sighs of relief from Jets fans all the way from Canada after Sam Darnold finally signed his rookie contract yesterday. As he marched onto the field for his first training camp, the media was quick to make it a spectacle, and the players even chimed in by giving the rook a slow clapping ovation.

And even though it’s tough to be fully content after Darnold missed the team’s first three practices, the fans, players and coaches were able to rejoice a bit knowing their potential future franchise quarterback was back in the building.

But all of the spotlight shouldn’t be focused on the former USC quarterback. Heck, the Jets have quite a few other rookies who could ultimately turn out to be just as valuable as the third overall pick. However, the Jets’ history of depleted success at the quarterback position makes the spotlight on Darnold even brighter. Is that fair to the other guys? Tough to say.

But looking past the lopsided amount of media attention amongst Jets training camp, it’s easy to see that not only did the Jets draft strategically this year, but intelligently.

Nathan Shepherd

The former bouncer turned NFL player is making early strides in camp, according to reports. Todd Bowles has praised Nathan Shepherd’s strength, technique and pursuit. He didn’t miss a step when the team transitioned to pads for their third practice. He’s been making a great impression on the coaches and the players around him.

The team hopes Shepherd can continue to develop and team up alongside Leonard Williams this season. Williams, who has doubled teamed often last year, should hopefully get some pass rushing support from the impressive rookie.

Parry Nickerson

The same ambition can be said for the rookie corner, Parry Nickerson, who some say has been the star of Jets training camp thus far. He has reportedly been getting time with the starting defense and just about locking down every receiver he’s been going up against.

Nickerson’s presence brings an exciting development to the group of defensive backs. With his recent success, it will be interesting to see how the competition plays out between himself, Trumaine Johnson, Morris Claiborne and Buster Skrine.

Trenton Cannon

With sophomore back Elijah McGuire suffering a fractured foot in practice the other day, the Jets were hoping to see flashes of potential from rookie Trenton Cannon, and they did.

The former Virginia State running back has broken off a few big runs in practice thus far, showcasing his speed and agility. The biggest sticking point seems to be his ability to turn a quick corner and accelerate past the line. He’ll also be a solid addition to the Jets lacking kick return game.

Chris Herndon

Despite his recent legal issues, rookie Chris Herndon has reportedly impressed in camp thus far. With the Jets tight end room lacking after the loss of Austin Seferian-Jenkins this past offseason, Herndon is looking like the most plausible answer at the moment.

Outplaying Clive Walford, Neal Sterling, Eric Tomlinson and Jordan Leggett is a promising start. In the most likely scenario, the Jets won’t keep all five tight ends, so if Herndon can continue to impress while cleaning up his act, he should solidify a spot on the final roster.

โ€“ Kyle Hirshkind is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Jets and covers the New York Jets. Like and follow on


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