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Notebook | Jets Are In a 'Much Better Place' Than a Year Ago

Bill Barnwell of ESPN Says GM Joe Douglas Made the Offense a Priority


After making a splash in free agency by adding grit and experience on the offensive line and a second potential game-breaker at wide receiver, the Jets could have easily spent their seven draft picks on a relative balance between the offense and the defense.

Instead, as Bill Barnwell writes for ESPN, GM Joe Douglas used his first five picks, and a heady amount of wheeling and dealing to give veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers even more tools in his bulging toolbox.

"After signing wideout Mike Williams and acquiring offensive linemen Tyron Smith, Morgan Moses and John Simpson in the offseason [via free agency and a trade], New York appears to be surrounding Rodgers with legitimate NFL talent," Barnwell wrote.

He added: "GM Joe Douglas oversaw a team that broke down because of injuries and lack of depth last season, and while the roster might have looked done on offense on paper, he wisely continued to go after more talent on offense [in the draft]."

After swapping spots with Minnesota, the Jets nabbed Penn State OL Olu Fashanu with the No. 11 overall selection. Fashanu has the ability to step in as a starter or he can learn at the feet of Smith, one of his football idols. Without a pick in the second round, which a year ago was sent to Green Bay in the trade for Rodgers, Douglas moved to the top of the third round and brought into the fold the "YAC King" in Western Kentucky wide receiver Malachi Corley. With Corley, Williams and Garrett Wilson, Rodgers potentially has a trio of ball-catching threats on the inside, the outside, shallow and deep.

Day 3 brought Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen, still only 20 years old, another RB in South Dakota State's bruising Isaiah Davis and promising Florida State QB Jordan Travis. Defense was addressed toward the tail end of the draft with DB Qwan'tez Stiggers (fifth round) S Jaylen Key (No. 257 and last).

"They also landed a 2025 third-round pick from the Lions, a pick that could come in handy at the trade deadline if New York looks like a contender," Barnwell wrote. "This team is in a much better place than it was a year ago."

Qwan'tez Stiggers' Fantastic Journey
The Jets' coaching and scouting staffs worked overtime to make the fifth-round selection of defensive back Qwan'tez Stiggers a surprising reality.

After the death of his father while Stiggers was playing in college, he returned home to a family that included his mother and 13 siblings. Football took a backseat, at least for a while. He returned to the field, at the urging of his mother, in the Fan Controlled Football league in Atlanta in '22, and last season was named the CFL's Most Outstanding Rookie while playing with the Toronto Argonauts.

"He's got a tremendous skillset, for one," HC Robert Saleh said. "The reason we don't think he'll fail is his mindset. ... He's a phenomenal athlete, but he's got an elite makeup. You can put him up against any corner with regards to athleticism and all that. But it's his strain and his mindset that we're excited about."

Stiggers, at present, is viewed as a worthy backup to slot cornerback Michael Carter II in the scheme devised by defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich. During the draft, Ulbrich broke down in tears of joy after the Green & White staff basically "discovered" Stiggers (5-11, 203) was draft-eligible and was able to snap him up.

Looking back on his life when football wasn't part of it, Stiggers said he did what he had to do to help his mom and siblings.

"I had multiple jobs," he told reporters. "I was a car salesman, a car mechanic, DoorDash, Instacart, warehouse jobs."

Isaiah Davis on His Hard-Running Style: 'It's All I've Ever Known'
Isaiah Davis was a Jackrabbit in college. In the NFL, the Jets hope he plays more like a wrecking ball.

In another one of his draft day deals, GM Joe Douglas moved back from the No. 129 pick in the fourth round to acquire a pair of picks in Round 5 – No. 173 and No. 176 -- in a deal with San Francisco. With one of those selections, the Jets added another running back -- Davis from South Dakota State. An imposing 6-2, 218, Davis rushed for 4,548 yards and 50 touchdowns over 46 games for the Jackrabbits. Last season, he led all FCS running backs with 1,578 rushing yards.

He joins starter Breece Hall, Braelon Allen and Israel Abanikanda in the backfield.

HC Robert Saleh said that Davis' and Allen's physical style of running could become a "contagious trait that permeates throughout the entire building."

Davis added, speaking about his style of play: "I guess it's just the standard you got to live by, play the game by, you know, I've always played the game of physicality. And so I feel like we did a good job at STSU doing that. 
So just, you know coming here doing the same thing, you know certain dominance and you know the NFL, it's a bit of a physical game. 
So running back special teams, whatever may be, just, you know, a certain dominance and being physical. It's all I've ever known."

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