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Wednesday, May 4, 2011
QB McElroy already impressing with smarts

By Rich Cimini

MISSION VIEJO, Calif. -- It's really hard to get a read on a player in what amounts to an informal passing camp, but it didn't take Mark Sanchez long to get a positive vibe from the newest quarterback in the room, rookie Greg McElroy.

"He's so sharp," Sanchez said during a break at his "Jets West" camp. "He's got a ton of experience in college. He played in a lot of games -- a national championship (2009). That's great to add to our quarterback room. He's picking things up quickly in the classroom. It'll be good competition for all of us."

McElroy, who posted a 24-3 starting record at Alabama, was drafted in the seventh round last weekend. Three of the Jets' four offensive draft picks are here for the camp -- McElroy, WR Jeremy Kerley (fifth round, TCU) and WR Scotty McKnight (seventh round, Colorado). McKnight is local, a close friend of Sanchez. The only one who isn't here is RB Bilal Powell (fourth round, Louisville).

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: McElroy doesn't have a rifle arm -- his long balls tend to float -- but he's able to hit receivers in stride on deep corner routes. Much like ex-Jets QB Chad Pennington, it looks like he'll be a touch and timing passer ... McKnight's long speed doesn't make you say, "Wow," but he's quick in and out of his cuts, which will serve him well in the slot. Good hands ... Kerley is a fluid receiver. There's a polish to his game, and you can see it right away. He also tracks the ball well on deep routes.

ONE MAN'S OPINION: I touched base with a highly-respected personnel guy from another team, and he offered a few thoughts on some of the Jets' draft picks.

DE Muhammad Wilkerson (first round): "We had him rated as a high 2. He's a good player and a good kid. The Jets will like him. He fits their scheme really well."

NT Kenrick Ellis (third round): "There are so many things you have to deal with. He had the off-the-field incidents at South Carolina (positive drug tests) and now he's got the pending assault. Obviously, that isn't good. We interviewed him. He's not a bad kid, just very, very misguided. He's a good player. If you want to like him, there's enough to like, but you have to worry about the other stuff."

Powell: "He's very average. He's a big, power guy. He's a good tackle-box runner. I was so-so on the kid. If you have a need, you take him. If you don't, he's not a guy that makes you say, 'Wow.'"

Kerley: "He's a good kid. He's a good, inside receiver. I think he's going to be a good pro. I like that pick. He could help them, especially with all the uncertainty at receiver."

McKnight: "I'm surprised they drafted him. They could've gotten him as a free agent. Everybody knows he's close with Sanchez, so we all figured, 'He's going to the Jets.'"

BOOK HIM: Because of the lockout, only one Jets rookie received a playbook -- Wilkerson. Rex Ryan, speaking Tuesday at a book signing, said he gave Wilkerson a playbook to take home when he visited the Jets' facility last Friday, according to The Star-Ledger of Newark. Ryan said he wasn't able to talk to the other draft picks, but the three attending "Jets West" are learning from material prepared by Sanchez.