Boom! Boom! Pow! Jets Hope Trio Of Rookie Playmakers' Physical Approach 'pErmeates' The Entire Team

New York Jets' Malachi Corley works out during an NFL rookie minicamp football practice Friday, May 3, 2024, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
New York Jets' Malachi Corley works out during an NFL rookie minicamp football practice Friday, May 3, 2024, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Malachi Corley's eyes light up whenever a defensive player squares up to tackle him.

The New York Jets rookie wide receiver is ready to deliver an even harder hit.

And then he keeps running.

“Every time I get the ball, I’m trying to make something happen with it,” the Jets' third-round pick out of Western Kentucky said during the team's rookie minicamp. “And running through guys is just my way of imposing my will.”

That physical approach is why the Jets also drafted a pair of bruising running backs in consecutive rounds last week, taking Wisconsin’s Braelon Allen in the fourth and South Dakota State’s Isaiah Davis in the fifth.

“To have a guy with that mindset, I think it’s contagious,” coach Robert Saleh said. "To bring in the two big backs, that’s contagious. To have that mindset, to bring that physicality, the offensive line, all of it, the hope is that it becomes a contagious trait that permeates throughout the entire building.”

Corley led the country with 1,674 yards after the catch and 55 broken tackles during his last two seasons with the Hilltoppers, earning the nickname “YAC King.” That penchant for never shying away from contact impressed the Jets during the draft process and made Saleh and his staff consider how that presence could help Aaron Rodgers and the offense.

“Especially in a time of self-preservation, he never runs out of bounds,” Saleh said. "That extra 1 or 2 yards, every yard matters. So many times, you’ll see ballcarriers run out. It’s first-and-10 and they get an 8-yard gain, they run out of bounds. You’re thinking, ‘Well, second-and-2,’ but then it’s third-and-1, and then you’re punting, versus stick my foot in the ground, get vertical on first-and-10, now it’s first-and-10 again, get a whole new set of downs.

"That is a huge difference in football."

Corley is seen as a complement to Garrett Wilson, Mike Williams and Allen Lazard in the Jets' passing game. The 5-foot-11, 215-pound wide receiver has drawn comparisons to San Francisco's Deebo Samuel because of his comparative size — Samuel is 6-feet tall and 215 pounds — and physical approach as a do-it-all playmaker.

“I think it's an amazing honor,” Corley said of being mentioned with Samuel. “I think I’ve hardly scratched the potential of who I am as a player. I think the yards after catch thing is just something that I do. But (I'm) just trying to elevate my game even past that label of just being a gadget player and a weapon and all those things.”

Corley could get a crash course this offseason in what he needs to do to succeed in Nathaniel Hackett's offense from Rodgers. The two share business agents and the four-time NFL MVP offered Corley to stay in his guest house — something the rookie intends to take him up on.

“That's going to be my dog while I'm here,” a smiling Corley said with a laugh.

At 20 years old, Allen was the youngest player in the draft last weekend. But by no means does he look or play like a kid.

The 6-1, 235-pound running back ran for 3,494 yards and 35 touchdowns in three seasons with the Badgers — and made a reputation for himself as a tough-to-tackle playmaker. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry over his career while using a mix of speed and power.

“It's just been the way I've played my whole life,” Allen said. “It was kind of my advantage as a young kid, kind of being a little bit bigger than everybody else.”

He wrestled when he was younger and said he learned about using leverage to his advantage, as well as hand fighting and mental discipline. And he carried that with him to the football field.

The Jets see him as a potential change-of-pace complement to Breece Hall, whose speed allows him to bounce outside and sprint downfield while Allen is more of a between-the-tackles grinder.

Same for Davis, who's 6-1 and 220 pounds and helped South Dakota State win back-to-back FCS national championships. He ran for 4,458 yards and 50 touchdowns, averaging a whopping 6.7 yards per carry in his four seasons with the Jackrabbits.

“I guess it’s just a standard you’ve got to live by, play the game by,” Davis said. “I’ve always played a game (with) physicality. And I thought we did a good job at SDSU of doing that. So, just come in here doing the same thing, you know, assert dominance.

"The NFL is a physical game, so running back, special teams, whatever it may be, just assert dominance and be physical.”