At the start of his career in the NFL, Jets GM Joe Douglas cut his scouting teeth working for Ozzie Newsome and the Baltimore Ravens. During his time as a scout, Douglas was part of an organization that won four AFC North titles and a pair of Super Bowl championships.
After his time in Charm City (2000-14), Douglas, 45, was the Bears' director of college scouting (2015) and the Eagles' vice president of player personnel (2016-19) where he also got another ring following the 2017 campaign.
"Joe's very thorough — very, very thorough," Newsome told The New York Post in December 2020. "He's a very good listener, and he has an unbelievable keen eye for talent. He has a way to describe a player that everybody in the meeting can understand what that player is and what he's about."
What Douglas -- who signed a six-year contract with the Green & White on June 7, 2019 -- is about is building a strong and enduring foundation through the NFL Draft. His next opportunity, in concert with HC Robert Saleh and the Jets' player personnel staff, will come at the end of April. As any fan who bleeds Gotham Green knows by now, the Jets own two selections in Round 1, two in Round 2 and nine picks overall.
"His background is, obviously with Ozzie, managing the draft efficiently and being patient," said ESPN analyst Todd McShay. "He was a college scout, that's how he grew up in this league. With Phil [Savage] as his college coordinator, director of college early on with the Ravens and then as Joe kind of climbed the ladder there, that's how he learned and grew up in this profession. It doesn't surprise me."
Looking back at the Jets' 2021 draft class, Douglas said it was a "monumental player-development task." It was one that yielded six solid starting players and, when including the team's undrafted free agents, played 5,681 snaps -- second only to the Detroit Lions (5,969), according to ESPN Stats & Information.
"Joe Douglas has made some really good trades, getting the 2 for Sam Darnold [from Carolina] and the two 1's for Jamal Adams [from Seattle] is hopefully going to pay off now," said Mike Tannenbaum of ESPN. "This is a draft, because of Covid, there's a big theory that this is a little bit of a deeper draft, maybe not as top heavy.
"Keep building on the lines. There are a couple of guys there, but if they can add some difference makers in the front seven and obviously a corner or two. To me those are the positions you usually can't get in free agency, you don't see a lot of great young corners leave teams or great young pass rushers. To me, you want to kind of back-fill other needs and try to get those premium positions in the draft. I think Joe Douglas has done a really good job of amassing good value to do that."
Douglas has acknowledged that, when it comes to the draft (not to mention nearly $50 million in cap space to entice a free agent or two), the Jets have enviable flexibility. Holding the No. 4 and No. 10 picks in the first round could mean that his phone lines are open as other teams, perhaps one in search of a quarterback, consider moving up and sending the Jets even more picks, more capital.
"I think we're always going to be aggressive if the right opportunity presents itself," Douglas said during his season-ending press conference last month. "The good thing is that I think we can be in just about any discussion when it comes to player trades."
And with a franchise quarterback in the fold in Zach Wilson and a handful of teams looking to potentially move up, Douglas seems to again be prepared to play his part as Trader Joe (at least when it comes to the draft).
"The beauty is when you don't need a quarterback," McShay said. "You can maybe take advantage probably with that 10th pick more than that fourth pick and move back a few spots for a team. You have Atlanta sitting at No. 8, and then after that Washington at No. 11 needs a quarterback, Pittsburgh is at No. 18, New Orleans is at No. 20, Detroit is at No. 25.
"Do one of these teams want to move up because they've targeted Malik Willis, the Liberty quarterback or Kenny Pickett, the Pittsburgh quarterback, to go get that guy? You could possibly see Joe with that second first-round pick at No. 10, moving back to exploit a team that is really eager to move up and certainly they have enough needs where it would be great to have five, six picks in the top 64."