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Jets and GM Joe Douglas Preparing for a 'Wild Card Draft'

Jets and GM Joe Douglas Preparing for a ‘Wild Card Draft’


With free agency behind us (mostly), the frenzy building to the 2024 NFL Draft in Detroit April 25-27 is like an echo moving through a tunnel -- the sound just keeps building.

With the draft three weeks away, Jets general manager Joe Douglas and his staff have already addressed several pivotal needs in free agency -- adding veterans on the offensive line (Tyron Smith, Morgan Moses and John Simpson), a potential gamebreaker at wide receiver (Mike Williams), D-linemen (Leki Fotu and Javon Kinlaw), cornerback (Isaiah Oliver) and at backup quarterback (Tyrod Taylor).

The Green & White also moved quickly to re-sign a slew of the team's own free agents -- kicker Greg Zuerlein, punter Thomas Morstead, safety Chuck Clark, D-lineman Solomon Thomas, tight end Kenny Yeboah. And, after losing edge Bryce Huff to the Eagles in free agency, Douglas quickly obtained Haason Reddick ... from the Eagles.

And now the draft fun starts -- every day seems to yield yet another mock draft. And for all the moves they have already made, the Jets, presently with the No. 10 overall pick, still have needs and still have options.

"In a scenario where the roster is on paper, a lot of holes have been filled, I would say this is a wild card draft in that there are so many ways you can go with No. 10 pick," Leger Douzable, an analyst for CBS Sports, told Eric Allen on this week's edition of "The Official Jets Podcast."

"You could trade back and take a receiver" Douzable said. "[TE Brock] Bowers [who several mock draft project the Jets taking] is a little high for me at No. 10. I love our tight ends group, it's a good group, deep. You could go receiver or trade back. You could then get a receiver and a tackle in the first and second round if you trade back."

Douzable, a defensive end who played in the NFL with five teams from 2009-17 and spent three seasons (2013-15) with the Jets, is a firm believer in building through the draft with depth and recognizes the value of players often taken in the mid-to-later rounds -- for example offensive linemen Carter Warren, Max Mitchell, nickel cornerback Michael Carter and defensive lineman Micheal Clemons.

"So many guys are signed to one-year deals ... and a few players with significant injury histories," he said. "You need longevity and consistency, players who can develop as others potentially move on. Guys have to be foundational pieces that can grow together."

As most draft observers, Douzable sees the Jets' needs in the draft at three positions -- receiver, O-line and safety. (And perhaps another "developmental" quarterback.)

"Safety is one of the most pressing, if not the most," Douzable said. "I love the signing of Chuck Clark, who was injured last year [ACL sustained in training camp]. Ashytn Davis has yet to sign and there are some big names out there. Joe Douglas is letting the market come to the Jets, he did the same with Smith and Williams.

"There's a middle-of-the-pack class, I could see a guy like Cole Bishop [Utah] to the Jets in the third round. He's good in the box. He also gives you the ability to cover tight ends one-on-one and can play the middle of the field. Does Davis come on or do you sign a guy like [free agent] Quandre Diggs?

"I also think a developmental offensive tackle is a need, not as big as everyone says. You could draft someone in the third, fourth or fifth round. You took Max [fourth round in 2002] and Warren [fourth round last year]. Max wasn't supposed to play his rookie year, Warren the same. You hope they continue to develop, spot start and eventually turn into starters. I love how Joe D. addressed depth, you still have [Jake] Hanson and [Wes] Schweitzer, but need one more piece. I'm not high on taking an O-tackle at No. 10. You signed Williams to a one-year deal, and still need a playmaker."

In his view from the first week in April, assuming the Jets hang on to the No. 10 overall pick, Douzable likes the thought of Washington receiver Rome Odunze (6-3, 215).

"Odunze played in the slot and outside," he said, catching passes from Douzable's favorite QB in the draft, Michael Penix. "Williams could hit the free-agent market, and if you take him [Odunze], you have somebody ready to take the spot if he leaves. You not only get a compensatory pick for him [Williams], you have someone to play for years. You look at the route tree and where he came from, he can play the slot, from outside, he can move around, which also frees up [Garrett] Wilson to play in the slot. It makes sense to take him, another good playmaker you need on offense for the quarterback to throw to."

Few observers would deny that there's a bit of alchemy and a lot of uncertainty involved in the NFL Draft every year.

"The draft is all about potential and projection," Douzable said. "Teams sometimes get in trouble thinking they can outsmart other teams about what a guy can be, instead of actually looking a tape and seeing what a guy is and what his ceiling can be. It's hard to take a guy in the top five when you haven't seen him do it on tape.

"You've got to be able to build through the draft for the longevity of the franchise."

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