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GM Joe Douglas Reflects on Execution of Jets' Draft Plan

‘Trader Joe’ Likes Situations for T Olu Fashanu and QB Jordan Travis; Machai Corley Makes it a ‘Pick Your Poison’ WR Room

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Even before last week's NFL Draft brought the Jets seven promising young men (plus undrafted free agents) to 1 Jets Drive for this weekend's rookie minicamp, general manager Joe Douglas made multiple moves -- in free agency and via trade.

"If someone had said you'd have an opportunity to get [WR Mike] Williams, [OL] Tryon [Smith], [OL Morgan] Moses and get [DE] Haason [Reddick] before the draft, I would have told you you're crazy" Douglas told Eric Allen on a special post-draft edition of "The Official Jets Podcast."

Add the signing of backup QB Tyrod Taylor, DL Leki Fotu, DL Javon Kinlaw, OL John Simpson and CB Isaiah Oliver; plus the re-signing of four of his own free agents, Douglas put the Green & White in the position of maximum flexibility.

"We had a plan," Douglas said. "And with the help of some great teammates -- pro and college scouts, cap, analytics ... everybody from video, training room, doctors -- we were able to keep the main thing the main thing and avoid distractions. A lot of hard work led into this offseason and I feel like we were able to keep it simple and stay on track."

At the priority was refreshing and strengthening the offensive line, which saw 13 different combinations take the field last season. The task is of paramount importance with the return to the field of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who missed all but four plays last season after tearing an Achilles tendon in the season opener. After the signings of Smith and John Simpson, and the trade for Moses, Douglas turned his attention to a rich draft class of offensive linemen.

The draft saw the selection of 14 straight players on offense, and the top three consensus top wide receivers -- Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze -- were off the board when Douglas engineered a trade, one of many by "Trader Joe" over three days, to swap No. 10 and No. 11 with Minnesota. The Jets selected Penn State OL Olu Fashnau.

"It was a unique group of offensive linemen and playmakers," Douglas said. "As we are going through the night, the early stages of Round 1, it was apparent there wasn't a lot of movement going on. It had been predicted there would be a lot of trades, but it didn't happen. So, we made the decision to stick and made the pick. Even before we got to 10, the phone was ringing off the hook. We had a lot of opportunities thrown our way, but we knew the direction we would go. We had good intel that our guy was going to be there, that Minnesota was going to take a quarterback [the Vikings did, J.J. McCarthy]."

Fashanu was a four-year player and a two-year starter at left tackle for the Nittany Lions. After an injury-shortened 2022 season in which he was named second-team All-Big Ten Conference, Fashanu put it all together last season with 12 starts, and at the end of the year he was selected by Associated Press as a first-team All-American and named Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year.

"We love his consistency," Douglas said. "He's an ultra-productive pass protector. In a lot of ways, Sauce [Gardner] was a guy who never got beat. Olu is a guy who never, if ever gets beat. Low pressure rates, no sacks given up, very plug and play pass protector and just wired the right way. A quiet, competitive, consistent young man.

"What a great situation. Olu is going to come into a situation with two guys, Smith and Morgan, [QB] Jordan Travis can come in and learn from a Hall of Fame quarterback and [Tyrod] Taylor, that's over 30 years of NFL experience. You can just be a sponge, a shadow to each of them and take in what they're willing to give."

Minus a second-round pick, sent to Green Bay in the trade for Rodgers, Douglas used the flexibility acquired in the first-round swap with Minnesota to move up to the top of the third round with another trade for the "YAC King" Malachi Corley. The addition of Corley gives Rodgers and the offense a potential imposing troika at wide receiver.

"In our room now, we have a different flavor, an almost pick your poison-type of room," Douglas said. "We know Garrett Wilson is an elite competitor and route runner who can separate from anyone. Then Williams, he's ultra-productive and can run by people and also go up with the big boys on the outside.

"Now adding Malachi, he really excels with the ball in his hands. When guys are really good at running after catch in college, it usually translates well in the pros. If a guy has the ability to make people miss it's because they're really an elusive high-level athlete and if they're wired to compete. Our coaches are going to use that skill to turn him into an elite route runner. He [Corley] can make people miss. The thing that jumps off the tape is how angry he runs with the ball. He runs with a vengeance, he's not looking to run out of bounds. He brings a cool element to the room."

The Jets' six in-draft trades enabled Douglas to maneuver and strengthen the roster, adding a pair of strong and swift running backs -- Braelon Allen in the fourth round and Isaiah Davis in the fifth -- and help for the defense in late rounds -- DBs Qwan'tez Stiggers and Jaylen Keys with the final pick of the three-day event.

"If we would have gotten to Saturday and had a small group of players we were excited about, we would have stayed [put]," Douglas said. "We had a big pool of players who were our type of person and player. And when we got to our pick, they were all still there so we decided to start moving around the board. Eventually we got to the point where you don't want to risk missing out on guys like Jordan, Braelon. It was time to stick and pick."

And with an eye on the future, Douglas sent pick No. 126 to the Lions for Detroit's third-round pick in 2025. The move right now gives the Green & White two in the third round and two in the sixth next year.

"I think that third-round pick has legit value for us," Douglas said. "With that pick, you can locate a starter."

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