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NFL Draft Notebook: Trade Winds Picking Up?

GM Joe Douglas: We’re Ready to Roll

A general view of the NFL Draft stage on Wednesday, April 24, 2024 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

On Wednesday, NFL Network/Fox broadcaster Peter Schrager tweeted he thinks "there could be 10 trades or more" in the first round when the 2024 NFL Draft commences. What are the chances Jets GM Joe Douglas moves out of the 10th overall selection in the Motor City?

Since taking over as general manager in 2019, Douglas has made nine trades during the draft with three trade-ups and six trade-downs. The trade-ups involved three players – Alijah Vera-Tucker (MIN 2021), Jermaine Johnson (TEN 2022) and Breece Hall (NYG 2022) – who all will have critical roles on a Jets team determined to become a contender in 2024. Five current role players/depth pieces – CB Brandin Echols (LV 2021), T Carter Warren and LB Zaire Barnes (NE 2023), DB Jarrick Bernard-Converse and TE Zach Kuntz (LV 2023) – remain from the 6 trade-downs.

During Douglas' tenure, the Jets have made seven first-round selections with four offensive players (T Mekhi Becton, No. 11/2020, QB Zach Wilson, No. 2/2021, AVT No. 14/2021 and WR Garrett Wilson, No.10/2022) and three defensive players (Edge Jermaine Johnson, No. 26/2022, CB Sauce Gardner, No. 4/2022 and DE Will McDonald, No. 15/2022). Most pundits believe the Jets will add to the offense Thursday whether with the 10th overall selection or somewhere else in the first round.

"There are a lot of special players on the offensive side of the ball," Douglas said at his pre-draft news conference. "Guys that are playmakers and top-level blockers, top-level playmakers, dynamic playmakers and they are all a different flavor. Whether you want a precision route runner that is super productive, or you want an explosive freak. Whether you want a high-level route runner who can go up and get the ball, but also run by people. There are different flavors of blockers too and a tight end that is a Swiss Army Knife that can move the ball around the formation and can really stress the defense. It is a really cool group."

As far as positional need, both tackle and offensive playmaker make sense for the Jets.

"We definitely have 10 players that we're excited to take, so we're ready to roll," Douglas said.

If the Jets end up moving off the 10th selection, it would be Douglas' 10th trade during the draft.

"We go through that quite in bit in terms of which players would we move up for," said senior football advisor Phil Savage. "And if there are a handful of players at 10, would we consider moving back? How far back would we go? What's the range of movement that we're willing to operate within say at the 10th pick and then of course after that."

New Draft Landscape
The Jets currently hold the final pick in the draft as Mr. Irrelevant this April will be No. 257 overall in the seventh round. Scout preparation for the draft has changed dramatically in recent years due to an altered college football landscape.

"It's one thing to watch the tapes and evaluate the player," Savage said. "It's a whole other for our people to go to the school. They way college football is now, in the old days you would go to a school and have 10 names and there would be six or seven of them you would actually write up and you could put it to bed and be done with it in October. Nowadays because you have Covid seniors, regular seniors, fourth-year juniors, third-year juniors, redshirt sophomores, there are certain schools that you'll go to, and they'll give you 25-35 names. Our guys are having to monitor those 35 names from August all the way through until the declaration date because the schools themselves don't know if he's staying or going. He could transfer or he could go to the league, or he could come back."

Due to new NIL rules, many college players elect to return to schools rather than becoming a late round/undrafted free agent consideration. Only 54 underclassmen entered the draft this year, the lowest number since 2018.

"The volume, the number of prospects that are out there has really changed through the years and I think that's our most difficult task when you're actually on the road walking into USC or Tennessee or wherever it is," Savage said. "And then to go get the background information and hit three or four or sometimes five or six contacts at the school to get that background and personality, the personal character of the individual, entered into the machine so to speak. Our people are extremely diligent in that regard. It's time-onsuming and it's tedious and it takes a lot of patience to do it, and I think our guys do it well."

End of the Journey
The Jets' draft capital entering the draft stands at 7 picks: Rd. 1 (No. 10), Rd. 3 (No. 72) Rd. 4 (Nos. 111 and 134), Rd. 6 (Nos. 185 and 203) and Rd. 7 (No. 257).

"This marks the end of our draft journey so to speak, so looking forward to the weekend," Savage said. "And of course, the draft weekend is the culmination of that project. I started obviously last summer, I want to say I graded about 100 going into the fall. And then August 1st hit the road and probably went to like 40 schools during the fall. I know I went to specifically 22 live games. I did keep track of that and then of course the season ends.

"That's what I call the fog of confusion that sets in from early January until this week. There is just so much noise and so much information out there and you really try to stay true to what you did during the fall, your background, research, what you saw at practice or a game and then marry that up with actually meeting the players at the all-star games, the Combine and of course their visits here to Florham Park, and ultimately put it together."

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