He is the do-everything everyman and fan favorite, even before he has rallied the blondes-have-more-fun crowd to his side.
“It’s fun being embraced by this fan base, honestly one of the premier fan bases in the NFL — not even close, truly,” Braxton Berrios said. “They’re diehards.”
And on the sun-splashed day when Berrios was back for team drills and there were green-clad fans in the bleachers for the first time and the Jets trotted out their four first-round and second-round draft picks, Berrios started spreading the news to the New York, New York Post about why the rookies will soon be embraced the way he is.
Cornerback Sauce Gardner did a backflip at the end of cornerback D.J. Reed’s pick-six of Zach Wilson.
“There’s a reason we picked him with the fourth [overall] pick,” Berrios said. “He’s a freak athlete, and he’s coming along really nicely. I’m excited to watch him every day in camp and then as the season gets going.”
Gardner has that athletic arrogance all players, especially cornerbacks, need. And those long arms.
“He does have long arms,” Berrios said. “It poses obviously difficulties for wide receivers, getting around ’em, getting by ’em, and then he also has the speed to cover the distance as well. But yeah, he’s extremely rangy.”
Wide receiver Garrett Wilson, the 10th pick.
“Extremely athletic. Great route runner, strong hands,” Berrios said.
Tight end C. J. Uzomah likens Wilson to a gazelle.
“I always call him a deer,” Berrios said. “He’s springy. And I know I said this about Sauce, but he’s also tangy, he has king arms, string hands. He had a wide target radius, and yet he’s very explosive.”
Wilson apparently dropped the ball, however, when he was asked to sing an old-school R&B number for the vets.
“He has to go again,” Berrios said. He was that bad? “It wasn’t that,” Berrios said. “He didn’t sell out. You just need to sell out. All we want is effort. You can’t be nervous; you gotta be fully in it.”
A better gauge on outside linebacker Jermaine Johnson, the 26th pick, will come Monday when the Jets put the pads on.
“It’s very tough to judge in the limited capacity we’ve been able to, but as camp goes on, I think we’re gonna see some fun stuff out of him. … Always with a smile on his face, just goes and goes,” Berrios said. “I think honestly that whole D-line is kinda like that the way they practice.”
Conclusion: “Those three are gonna be impact players for us this year, I think,” Berrios said.
RB Breece Hall, the 36th pick, could be a fourth impact player.
“I can’t wait till the pads come on because you see a little bit more of why they’re them,” Berrios said, “but same thing — athletic strong … built from the ground up in a way. He seems extremely powerful. He can do everything — he has good hands, he can go out for routes. There’s nothing that I haven’t seen him do.”
Several fans shouted out positive reviews to Berrios on the hair.
“I was a towhead when I grew up, I was blond my whole life,” Berrios said, and smiled, “and as I got older, it got darker and darker. I thought about it a few times, and I just kinda wanted to change going into camp and I thought it was the perfect time to do it.”
Berrios thought it was the perfect time, and the Jets were the perfect team to build on his All-Pro year as returner and security blanket for Zach Wilson and MDP — Most Dependable Player — and sign him to a two-year, $12 million deal.
“I saw the tide turn,” Berrios said. “It didn’t feel like a 4-13 year. I felt that tide turn, and I wanted to be a part of this, getting the Jets back to where they should be.”
So much depends on the quarterback.
“Ever since he came in, I try to be a resource for him,” Barrios said. “You’re coming in as the starting quarterback of the New York Jets at 21 years old. I can’t imagine. We built a great rapport, great chemistry, and we’ve been really, really good friends ever since.”
Wilson will turn 23 on Wednesday.
“He’s very comfortable in the system now,” Berrios said, “and you can tell it in the way he walks, the way he throws the ball, the way he talks. He really is.”
Berrios last year averaged 30.4 yards per kickoff return, the best in the league, with one touchdown. He averaged 13.4 yards per punt return, and was a crafty, dangerous slot receiver (46-431-2 TDs) as well. More mouths to feed now.
“We have a phenomenal … one of the most athletic teams I think I’ve ever been around,” Berrios said. “The best part about it is everybody is on the same page. We don’t have a selfish guy in the room across the whole skill positions. We want to see each other eat, we want to see each other get fed, and just make plays. I think that’s gonna be a really, really exciting thing to watch this year.”
Playoffs or bust?
“You play this game to win,” Berrios said.
He is certain that the Jets won the draft.