NY Jets: What the 2020 NFL Draft taught us about Joe Douglas
By Justin Fried
NY Jets general manager Joe Douglas has finished up his first draft with the organization and we learned a few things about the former Philadelphia Eagles executive.
NY Jets fans are understandably optimistic about the future of their franchise following the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft. Of course, that optimism is always tempered by realistic expectations, but let’s try and be positive here.
General manager Joe Douglas did plenty of things right in his first draft with the Jets. After taking over for Mike Maccagnan in the spring of 2019, the former Philadelphia Eagles executive was finally given a full offseason to manage the roster.
And while it will take some team to determine whether his moves were the correct ones or not, we did get a glimpse of what his strategy was.
Douglas seems to abide by the same strategy employed by his former mentor, Ozzie Newsome. That mindset involves limited spending in free agency and building primarily through the draft.
We saw that firsthand this past March when the Jets steered clear of many of the top names on the market. Instead, players like George Fant and Greg Van Roten were signed to be veteran stop-gaps.
Douglas shopped primarily for depth in free agency — he wasn’t looking for long-term answers. And in the 2020 NFL Draft, it was also very clear what Douglas valued.
First and foremost, Douglas valued versatility. From third-round pick Ashtyn Davis to fourth-round pick Cameron Clark, he targeted players who could play multiple positions in the NFL and feasibly fill multiple roles on the team.
That was evident with his free-agent signings, but it was even more evident with draft picks.
Moreover, Douglas seemed to place a heavy emphasis on character and leadership. The Jets drafted five players on Day 3 of the draft — all five of them were team captains.
He was quoted following the draft giving his take on the importance of intangibles and character.
““Talent’s No.1 when you’re discussing how does this player fits on our team. Once you get the players slotted… then, okay, let’s talk about this guy’s fit in our building. But there has to be a baseline level of talent. It’s not just the intangibles. You have to have the ability to make this team better. The icing on the cake is the character and the makeup and all the intangibles in making this locker room better.”
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Clearly talent level is important, but a player’s makeup is often what separates himself from the rest of the pack. Douglas and the Jets were reportedly smitten with quarterback James Morgan as a person which might explain why they took him as high as they did.
Douglas also made it very clear throughout the draft process that he’s not afraid of trading down and accumulating more picks. The Jets traded down a total of three times during the draft including swapping their final pick for cornerback Quincy Wilson.
Douglas’ willingness to trade was no more evident than when he made a deal with the devil exchanging mid-round picks with the New England Patriots.
Again, there’s no way of knowing whether Douglas’ strategy will pay off or not. Every general manager has their preferences, and there’s no one tried-and-true method of succeeding during the draft process.
It’s all about execution — and a little bit of luck.
Nonetheless, Jets fans learned a lot about their general manager from his first draft with the team. And here’s to hoping that his master plan comes to fruition.