After the New York Jets minicamp wrapped up in June, coach Rex Ryan was asked which players stood out to him during the three minicamp practices.
Former Maryland cornerback Dexter McDougle was the second player he mentioned.
“I think you saw a little bit of why we’re so excited about him and optimistic about him,” Ryan told reporters. “He is physical. He’s able to press and get both hands on you in press. He’ll compete, and I think those are things that we were looking to see and I think we saw today. All of us saw it.”
McDougle, the Jets' third-round pick in this year's NFL draft, missed the first two of the Jets’ three organized team activities (OTAs) as he continued to work back from the broken collarbone that ended his senior season at Maryland last year. But he was on the field for both the third OTA and the three-day minicamp last month.
“I think he is everything we thought he was going to be,” defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said. “He is a young, talented kid. He is very serious. He loves football.
“There are some guys that you look at them and you say, ‘All right, he was built to play this position.’ He was built to play corner.”
Thurman has been high on McDougle since the first time he watched McDougle’s tape leading up to the draft.
McDougle only played in three games at Maryland last season, but he was a three-year starter for the Terrapins and had three interceptions in the three games he played in last year, including one he returned 49 yards for a touchdown.
“The first time [Thurman] watched the tape, he came in and got me,” Ryan said. “He’s like, ‘Oh, I’ve got the guy right here.’”
Jets general manager John Idzik was also high on McDougle, as were other high-ranking members of New York’s organization. But Ryan was skeptical at first, later citing the subpar competition McDougle faced in his limited action last year as one of his primary concerns.
“I saw him [as a risk] a little bit,” Ryan said. “But the confidence of John and of Dennis Thurman in particular, that kind of eased my little doubts if you will.”
McDougle apparently diminished doubts even more with his play during the OTA and the minicamp as he began his push for what could be a prominent role in the Jets' secondary.
Ryan said McDougle had two interceptions during that final minicamp practice.
"The young man is here to compete and challenge," Ryan said. "He's been impressive."