NY Jets general manager Joe Douglas had what can only be described as a disastrous 2023 offseason. Sure, he did help orchestrate a trade for Aaron Rodgers — the results of which haven't really been seen yet — but nearly every other decision Douglas made over the course of the offseason was the wrong one.
No position is this more evident than wide receiver.
Douglas shipped Elijah Moore and Braxton Berrios out of town, replacing them with Allen Lazard, Mecole Hardman, and Randall Cobb in free agency. The Jets went to extreme lengths to sign an over-the-hill and injury-prone Odell Beckham Jr., but never even considered making DeAndre Hopkins an offer.
Perhaps most egregious is how the team approached the 2023 NFL Draft. The Will McDonald pick is one that has been criticized extensively in recent months, especially given how the 2023 season developed.
The Jets could have really used another playmaker on offense, perhaps in the form of a first-round wide receiver prospect. Douglas and the Jets never considered it, however. And there's a good reason for it.
Joe Douglas and the NY Jets messed up with the 2023 wide receiver draft class
As numerous outlets have reported (most recently by Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic), the Jets did not have a single first-round grade on a wide receiver in last year's draft class.
That includes the likes of Jordan Addison, Zay Flowers, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who all went on to have impressive rookie campaigns with their respective teams. All three of those players were drafted in the first round after the Jets' selection of McDonald.
While it's already concerning that the Jets opted to draft a fifth-string defensive end over a potential day-one starter at wide receiver, the most troubling takeaway from this is that the team's scouting department straight-up got their evaluations wrong.
Addison finished his rookie season with an outstanding 70 catches for 910 yards and 10 touchdowns. Flowers is Baltimore's clear-cut WR1 and is fresh off a 77-catch, 858-yard season. Smith-Njigba hauled in 63 catches for 628 yards in his first NFL campaign.
This isn't a case of 20/20 hindsight, as Douglas always likes to allude to. All three receivers were seen as consensus first-round prospects by the media and seemingly most NFL teams. The Jets simply disagreed — and they were dead wrong.
Garrett Wilson finished with 1,042 yards this past season. Every other wide receiver on the Jets' roster combined for 654 yards. Sure, the team didn't know that Corey Davis was going to retire, but that doesn't justify the absolute whiffs of signings Lazard, Hardman, and Cobb were.
Joe Douglas' evaluation of the Jets' wide receiver situation this past offseason was a complete and utter disaster. From his free-agent signings to his embarrassing draft grades, there's no defending his missteps last offseason.
The Jets need Douglas to be better in 2024, or else he'll be searching for a new job this time next year.