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Jets Would Love to Build a Quarterback Factory via NFL Draft

GM Joe Douglas Comments on Aaron Rodgers’ Presence and the 'Trick' With Zach Wilson


Jets GM Joe Douglas sounds like a man who is going to take a quarterback next week during the NFL Draft. He already used some of his 2024 draft capital to secure the man who will lead his team in the coming season – Aaron Rodgers.

"We don't have a second-round pick this year," Douglas said Friday, referring to his trade last April with the Packers that brought Rodgers to New York. "And if I had the choice of having the second-round pick or not having Aaron, I would take Aaron 15 times out of 10. Obviously, the injury was devastating for all of us, but we're so excited to have him part of this franchise. Just the leadership that he brings, him connecting with his teammates, his presence in the building. He's a great guy and I've really enjoyed getting to know him as a man and spending time with him. I'm excited about this year."

Earlier this week, Rodgers returned to 1 Jets Drive for the first phase of the offseason program. In free agency, Douglas added a proven backup in Tyrod Taylor. And in preparation for this draft, Douglas went back to Green Bay for a QB research project.

"The most important position in sports," he said of quarterback. "I was going back and looking at some drafts and the way teams handled the quarterback position. I went back and looked at how the Packers of the 90s, your draft a guy like Mark Brunell in the fifth round [1993] and then you draft [Matt] Hasselbeck in the sixth round [1998]. They were a quarterback farm when [Brett] Favre was there. Aaron Brook [Round 4, 1999] and then they drafted Aaron in the first round [2005], but I'd love to be a quarterback factory like that. I would love to have quarterbacks that we take very year in the draft. Even if you hit on two or three like the Packers did, you can really turn those into future picks, or they develop into starters elsewhere like Mark Brunell and Aaron Brooks and Hasselbeck all did."

It seems unlikely the Jets will take a QB at No. 10 overall, but Douglas will keep his poker face on until all the hands are dealt in Detroit. Zach Wilson, the No. 2 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, remains on the roster. The Jets value Wilson as an "asset" and have granted him permission to find a trade partner.

"That's the trick right, that's the magic so to speak is to try to make sure Zach is in a good spot but also doing what's right for the New York Jets," Douglas said. "That is the line we're walking, but we have to what's right for the team."

With Rodgers back up and running, the Jets have been bolstered by his leadership and energy.

"It's great. For him to come back now early, just his presence is great," Douglas said. "Just seeing him interact with Sauce ([Gardner]) and Garrett [Wilson] and Breece [Hall] and Will [McDonald] and all the guys on the team, it's great having him back."

For months, many pundits have predicted a top WR or T or TE Brock Bowers to the Jets and their QBs at No. 10 overall. Douglas will have more candidates to choose from if there is an early run on quarterbacks. Caleb Williams (USC), Drake Maye (North Carolina) and Jayden Daniels (LSU) figure to be gone in the top nine selections. Could a fourth like J.J. McCarthy (Michigan) join them and push more players down the board?

"There are a lot of special players on the offensive side of the ball and guys who are playmakers," Douglas said of a group that includes WRs Marvin Harrison Jr. [Ohio State], Malik Nabers [LSU)] Rome Odunze [Washington)]and Brock Bowers [Georgia]. "Top-level playmakers and they're all a different flavor."

But could a protector like Taliese Fuaga (Oregon State), Olu Fashanu (Penn State), Troy Fautanu (Washington) or J.C. Latham (Alabama) help the Jets more than a skill-position talent. Douglas has all options on the table including the value of trade-ups and trade-backs. And set with his quarterback top two, he is likely to have his eyes on a development passer later in the draft.

"I would say just about anybody we draft, it's going to be a dogfight to break into the starting lineup," he said. "I think there are a lot of good players, warriors like [Tyler Conklin] Conk and [Jeremy Ruckert] Ruck, they're not going to go quietly into the night if we took a tight end. It's going to be tough for anyone we draft to come in and just stick their claim to a starting spot."

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