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GM Joe Douglas Says Jets Have a World of Options with No. 10 Pick in NFL Draft

Several Mock Drafts Have Georgia TE Brock Bowers Headed to New York 


"Best available." 

It's evolved into a standard response (mostly) when NFL team officials are asked about their plans for the NFL Draft. But when it concerns the Jets ahead of the draft late next month in Detroit, perhaps there's some truth to that stock phrase often bandied about around the league.

During his press gathering on Monday at the NFL League Meetings in Orlando, general manager Joe Douglas said that the Jets' moves in free agency had opened up all possibilities with the team holding the No. 10 overall pick.

"I think this is an unbelievable O-line class and at quite a few positions," Douglas said. "We now have great flexibility to go in any direction that is best for us. It opens the door to a lot of possibilities at No. 10."

He added: "I think you've seen tight ends go high in recent drafts. We're still early in our process, there's still the pro days going on. We'll get with the coaches early in April to hammer out the draft board. I'm open to anyone who can make an impact."

Since 2020, only two tight ends, Dalton Kincaid (Bills), were selected in the first round (No. 25 overall) in 2023; and Kyle Pitts (Falcons) at No. 4 in 2021. Four TEs were taken in the second round of last year's draft.

Numerous mock drafts have floated the notion of the Jets drafting Brock Bowers, the Georgia tight end who many analysts believe is the top player available at the position. The West Coast-style offense directed by coordinator Nathaniel Hackett places a premium on receivers chewing up yards after catches. And quarterback Aaron Rodgers over his career has been a master of the quick release to hulking, yet versatile tight ends.

In only his third season at Georgia, Bowers averaged more yards after catch (8.8) than the three wide receivers projected to be at the top of the draft -- Marvin Harrison (Ohio State, 6.3), Malik Nabers (LSU, 6.7) and Rome Odunze (Washington, 5.7).

While Douglas has quickly addressed the necessity of protecting Rodgers (who is coming off a torn Achilles tendon that ended his 2023 season before it really began) by signing John Simpson and Tyron Smith in free agency and trading for Morgan Moses, the injury virus that afflicted the offensive line last season is fresh in everyone's mind.

The flexibility Douglas mentioned could entail a trade up or a trade back to perhaps amass additional draft capital since the Jets do not have a second-round pick, which went (conditionally) to Green Bay in last April's trade for Rodgers.

In his latest mock draft, Bucky Brooks of projects the Jets taking Bowers at No. 10. "With the team in win-now mode and Aaron Rodgers nearing the end of his career, the Jets could opt to take a pass catcher who can dominate the middle of the field."

Likewise, Chad Reuterof believes Bowers could be in green & white next season. "The Jets finally landed a veteran receiver in Mike Williams, prompting them to zero in on the best tight end in this class. Bowers would be an excellent target for Aaron Rodgers and a strong blocker for Breece Hall."

Though the chatter outside the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center has recently talked up Bowers, Douglas said the team's current tight ends room -- which includes Tyler Conklin, Jeremy Ruckert, Kenny Yeboah and Zack Kuntz -- is "legit."

"I love our tight ends room," Douglas said. "We have a chance to add even more dynamic play, but have guys like Conk, who's a dude and can get open, unbelievable hands. Ruckert is going to make a jump, Yeboah can do a lot of things in the run game and Kuntz is a physical phenom and at 6-7 runs like a gazelle. I feel we have four in the room who are legit tight ends."

Conklin, who was signed in free agency by the Jets ahead of the 2022 season, was the team's second-leading receiver in total yards (behind Garrett Wilson) in 2023. He played in all 17 games and had 61 receptions (on 87 targets) for 621 yards (10.2 a catch) and ran for 246 yards after his receptions from three different quarterbacks. He was the No. 1 option at the position, especially after C.J. Uzomah was injured late in the season and subsequently released by the team in the offseason to clear space under the salary cap. (Uzomah was the only one among four TEs with a TD reception.)

Ruckert, who was in his second season following a rookie year limited because of injuries, played in 15 games with 16 receptions (on 22 targets) for 151 yards (9.4 a catch) and had 109 YAC. He missed the final two games of the season with a concussion but earned praise from HC Robert Saleh.

"We found a lot of versatility with him," Saleh said. "It's unfortunate he got hurt, against Washington, played some fullback and did a really nice job back there. If you can create that versatility, one at the point of attack, he's already a really good blocker to show versatility in the backfield and split as a wide receiver, really excited about him and the things that we can do with him."

Yeboah, who signed with the Jets as an undrafted free agent in May 2021, was a restricted free agent who re-signed with the team. He was elevated from the practice squad for the final five games of the season after Uzomah was put on IR with a knee injury and had 2 receptions for 28 yards.

Kuntz, selected by the Jets in the seventh round (No. 220) of the 2023 NFL Draft, took two offensive snaps in the Jets' season-ending 17-3 win over the New England Patriots.

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