As holes are filled in free agency, draft day targets could change. Regardless, Joe Douglas and the Jets have already been linked to several prospects, namely at positions of need. By evaluating Douglas’ draft history, in this week’s Joe Jet 5, I address the most discussed positions and predict where they will likely be selected.
A brief history to the Jets’ woes up front:
The miseducation of former GM Mike Maccagnan can be traced back to his days in Houston. In thirteen drafts with the Texans, Maccagnan witnessed the organization select one offensive lineman in the first round and only 3 in total within the first two. As a result of their neglect, young QBs being pummeled became a common occurrence and continued to be long after he was gone: David Carr is first (76) and third (68) on the all-time single-season sack list, Deshaun Watson remains tied for 5th with 62. Maccagnan himself, while with the Jets (2015-2019), never drafted an offensive lineman within the first two rounds and selected only 3 in total despite the Jets OL ranking in the bottom half of the league his entire tenure.
Turning over a new leaf:
Thankfully, for Gang Green fandom, Joe Douglas has been indoctrinated with a higher level of education. The Ravens and Eagles are two of the best teams in terms of roster construction, especially when it comes to fortifying the front lines. The Eagles OL, in particular, averaged a rank of 5th from 2015 to 2019 (Maccagnan’s time with the Jets), and still drafted five linemen (two of which came in the first two rounds) compared to Maccagnan’s mere three.
In 2016, the Eagles made a trade that would bring them their future franchise QB—Carson Wentz. When it came to protecting Wentz, Philadelphia didn’t rely on Band-Aid fixes up front (like Wesley Johnson or Spencer Long) to secure their most prized asset. The front office attacked free agency and signed—believe or not, a Texans cast off—pro bowler Brandon Brooks to a multi-year deal and drafted Isaac Seumalo (IOL) with the number two pick. It’s not surprising that, with this approach, the Eagles employed the number one ranked offensive line during their Super Bowl run in 2017.
The Eagles always plan for the future: In 2019, Philadelphia drafted Andre Dillard (Round 1) with the understanding that current LT Jason Peters may only have one year—if that—left in the tank. They finished the 2019 season ranked first in the league despite Dillard spending most of the season on the bench; he’s expected to be the full-time starter in 2020.
The Eagles are perennial studs up front, and their commitment to the OL should leave Jets fans hopeful. If any of the top 4 OT are available at pick 11, they—above all—remain the most probable selection. With Joe Douglas in charge, there could realistically be several offensive linemen taken in the draft. Get ready! The blueprint for Sam’s wall is approved, and the permit issued. Construction start date: March 18, 2020.
Eagles’ Offensive line ranks (last ten years), according to PFF:
- 2009: 9th
- 2010: 10th
- 2011: 2nd
- 2012: 19th
- 2013: 1st
- 2014: 2nd
- 2015: 12th
- 2016: 8th
- 2017: 1st (SUPER BOWL)
- 2018: 5th
- 2019: 1st
- 2016 Bears: Cody Whitehair (Round 2, IOL)
- 2018 Eagles: Matt Pryor (Round 6, OT), Jordan Mailata (Round 7, OT)
- 2019 Eagles: Andre Dillard (Round 1, OT)
In the four drafts that Joe Douglas played a significant leadership role, a WR was never selected before the second round.
In the 15 years Joe D. spent with the Ravens (as a scout), they selected only two WRs in round one, and both players underperformed relative to their draft slot: Mark Clayton (2005) and Breshad Perriman (2015).
In 2017, Joe Douglas opted to address the need at WR via free agency, instead of a high pick in the draft, by signing Alshon Jeffrey to a one-year $14m deal.
- 2016 Bears: Daniel Braverman (Round 7)
- 2017 Eagles: Mack Hollins (Round 4) and Shelton Gibson (Round 5)
- 2019 Eagles: JJ Arcega-Whiteside (Round 2)
For all the fans hoping for Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb—I’m sorry to break the bad news—but Joe Douglas is very unlikely to select a wide receiver in the first round. With all other needs and a deep class, round two will be the earliest you’ll hear a wide receivers name called and, if I were betting man, I’d put my money on round 3.
Several rumors have suggested that Joe Douglas could target an edge during the first round in the upcoming draft, and history has proven this may just be a viable assumption: Leonard Floyd (Round 1, 2016, Bears) and Derek Barnett (Round 1, 2017, Eagles).
- 2016 Bears: Leonard Floyd (Round1)
- 2017 Eagles: Derek Barnett (Round 1)
- 2018 Eagles: Josh Sweat (Round 4)
- 2019 Eagles: Shareef Miller (Round 4)
If the big 4 OT are off the board, edge becomes a very realistic option, and K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU) seems to be at the top of most lists. However, the aforementioned players (Barnett and Floyd) haven’t lived up to expectations, and I don’t anticipate Joe Douglas to reach on a prospect just because it’s at a premium position. I expect Joe D. to trade down or take the BPA while still filling a position of need, so for those holding their breath for Jeudy or Lamb; this could be your opportunity to exhale—but don’t get too excited.
Also, don’t be surprised if Joe Douglas addresses the need in free agency or via trade. In 2018, he played a significant role in orchestrating a deal (with Seattle) that brought in Michael Bennet for a 5th round pick. He himself took an edge twice in the fourth round and observed one of his former teams (the Ravens) find value late in the draft (Matt Judon and Za’Darius Smith).
I do not doubt that under Joe Douglas, the secondary will improve; however, his draft history remains a bit shaky as it pertains to the secondary. Sidney Jones has only played 643 snaps, and Rasul Douglas had severely regressed in 2019. Avonte Maddox was a steal in the fourth round and seems to be the jack of all trades—lines up in the slot, out wide, and safety—although his coverage skills are a work in progress.
- 2016 Bears: DeAndre Houston-Carson (Round 6)
- 2017 Eagles: Sidney Jones (Round 2), Rasul Douglas (Round 3)
- 2018 Eagles: Avonte Maddox (Round 4)
Normally double-dipping is a bit of a safety hazard, and if you’re at my party, I may have to escort you out, but in terms of the draft, it may be just what the doctor ordered. The Eagles fielded the second-ranked pass defense in 2016, and still went back to back cornerbacks (in the second and third rounds) in 2017. With the 18th ranked pass defense this past season, Douglas could realistically adopt the same approach. I fully expect the Jets to select at least one cornerback in the first three rounds and wouldn’t surprise me if they took two.
Kristian Fulton is a name to watch and, if he tests out at the combine, don’t be shocked if he starts getting mocked to the Jets at 11 as well. Honestly, if the OT Joe Douglas most covets isn’t available, Fulton could be a worthy choice.
What did the majority of the teams in the playoffs and particularly the final four have in common? A predominantly zone-based run scheme with a heavy dose of plays to the outside.
Note: “Outside zone yields the highest rate of 20-plus yard gains while also holding the highest probability of busting for zero or fewer yards by a wide margin.”
Regardless, when operated properly outside zone is the most lethal run concept in the entire NFL. Let me make an initial prediction: The outside zone will eventually become the most used run scheme in the league and essentially the NFL’s version of a 3-point shot—stay with me, I’m not talking about field goals. In other words, a lower percentage play that pays dividends if appropriately executed and, if hit consistently, almost unstoppable. The 49ers and their RBs were the NFL’s closest version to the “splash brothers” and, if Gase and Loggains get what they want, we could see a similar result right here in New York.
- 2016 Bears: Jordan Howard (Round 5)
- 2017 Eagles: Donnel Pumphrey (Round 4)
- 2019 Eagles: Miles Sanders (Round 2)
The Jets will draft a RB in the fourth or fifth round made for the wide zone. Last season, outside run concepts became an afterthought because their personnel (OL, RB, and TE) just simply weren’t a good fit. Gang green deployed the scheme less than the league average, and I foresee that changing in 2020 with a revamped OL. Recent reports have already linked one prospect (Anthony McFarland) made for the perimeter game, and I presume a RB of his skill set will be selected. Now, with Bell on the roster, it may take another season to integrate the system entirely, but with the new addition, the Jets will have the tools to employ a more balanced attack.