Joe Douglas is a menace in the draft room and it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down anytime soon. In the three years he’s been orchestrating the picks for the Jets, he’s managed to find immediate impact players in all phases on all three days.
As that momentum continues into next year, what should Douglas focus on when continuing to build his roster? Here are three ideas:
An offensive tackle for the future
The strength of the Jets’ offensive line is the guard-center-guard tandem, especially following the signing of Laken Tomlinson. Pro Football Focus graded the Jets offensive line 14th in run blocking – they’re expected to take a jump into the top ten this year.
The tackle spot on either side is more in question. Many would point to George Fant as being the weakest link of the five, and Mekhi Becton’s injury history has put his long-term future with the team in jeopardy for others. Drafting a flexible tackle who can play either side of the line would be insurance for both concerns.
The 2023 draft is expected to have three offensive tackles taken in the first round: Paris Johnson Jr. (Ohio State), Peter Skoronski (Northwestern), and Zion Nelson (Miami, FL).
A zone specialist safety to round out the secondary
The departure of Marcus Maye will be far more detrimental than many think. Although this past year was a down year in terms of statistics, his productivity is hard to replace.
Sauce Gardner’s specialty is one-on-one, signaling him as a designated taker of the number one wide receiver. Having a zone specialist who can read the field from far away would complement Gardner’s on-ball ability; someone who can be a few steps ahead to position themselves and align well with the aggressive style we saw from Jordan Whitehead in Tampa Bay.
While it’s not a stellar draft for safeties, there are several day-two prospects who are likely to be heavily targeted by clubs looking to boost their secondary. Brandon Joseph (Notre Dame), Antonio Johnson (Texas A&M), and Jalen Catalon (Arkansas).
A wide receiver – yes, another one
At this point in his development, you can’t give Zach Wilson too many weapons. The past few years of the Super Bowl have demonstrated that having several field-altering receivers is necessary for success. This is especially true for the Jets, who collectively face three of the ten best defenses in the NFL six times a year.
While the generational talents like Jaxson Smith-Njigba (Ohio State) and Jordan Addison (USC) might be gone before the Jets make their first selection, the Green Nation has full faith in Joe Douglas to find hidden gems that can make catches and score touchdowns in all seven rounds.