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The Athletic Names the Jets the No. 3 Most Improved Team in NFL

Joe Douglas Added 12 Free Agents, 10 Draft Picks; Including Zach Wilson, Carl Lawson and Corey Davis


The Athletic recently published an article detailing the five most-improved teams in the NFL and the Jets came in at No. 3.

"It's hard to not get excited about the moves that Jets GM Joe Douglas made this offseason," Robert Mays wrote. "[Carl] Lawson and [Corey] Davis were two of my favorite players available in free agency, and the Jets somehow landed both. Davis really came into his own with the Titans after starting a bit slow as the fifth overall pick in 2017. He's an ideal fit for offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur's offense, which shares a lot of DNA with the system that LaFleur's brother Matt brought to Tennessee in 2018. In Head Coach Robert Saleh's attacking defensive front, Lawson profiles as a perfect right defensive end who will be truly unleashed as a pass rusher.

"Davis and Lawson were the big swings in free agency, but Douglas also made several other worthwhile dart throws. The Jets brought in former Saints first-round pick Sheldon Rankins on a two-year, $11 million contract with only $6 million guaranteed. Douglas scooped up former Raiders defensive back Lamarcus Joyner on a one-year, $3 million deal. Both are the sort of low-risk bets worth making on talented players with question marks.

"The Jets' big bet was the decision to take Zach Wilson second overall in a draft with five first-round QBs. Even if Wilson takes some time to get going, there's a very good chance that the Jets will be a significantly better offensive team in 2021 than they were under Adam Gase. Among the 42 QBs with at least 150 drop backs last season, Joe Flacco and Sam Darnold ranked 33rd and 39th, respectively, in EPA per play. Even as a rookie, there's a solid chance that Wilson tops those numbers this fall.

"Whether that's because of the system, the surrounding talent, or Wilson's own ability is almost inconsequential. The Jets should be better on offense. That's especially true if LaFleur can get the most out of this team's other early draft picks. Along with adding Davis, the Jets also spent a second-round pick on Ole Miss receiver Elijah Moore, who immediately profiles as the Jets' starting slot option alongside Davis and downfield threat Denzel Mims.

"Douglas also made a bold move to trade a pair of third-round picks, go back up in the first round and snag USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker. Moving up for a guard isn't necessarily sound process, but in the short term, Vera-Tucker and 2020 first-round pick Mekhi Becton could create a formidable left side of the line.

"The Jets had a ton of resources this offseason, and the result is a roster with considerably more talent than it had a few months ago."

General Manager Joe Douglas attacked the offseason by first signing 12 free agents including Davis, Lawson, Joyner and Rankins. He also added LB Jarrad Davis, WR Keelan Cole, OL Dan Feeney, TE Tyler Kroft, DL Vinny Curry, RB Tevin Coleman, CB/special-teams ace Justin Hardee and LB Del'Shawn Phillips.

After drafting Wilson No. 2 overall, Vera-Tucker No. 14 and Moore No. 34 in the NFL Draft, he added seven more players: RB Michael Carter (Rd 4), LB Jamien Sherwood (Rd 5), DB Michael Carter II (Rd 5), CB Jason Pinnock (Rd 5), LB Hamsah Nasirildeen (Rd 6), CB Brandin Echols (Rd 6) and DT Jonathan Marshall (Rd 6).

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