Brian Billick could see successful Ravens executive Ozzie Newsome’s influence on Joe Douglas from the way the Jets' general manager handled his business during free agency, and he expects it to continue in next week’s draft.
Billick, the former Ravens coach, said the Jets are set up nicely for the draft and beyond because of Douglas’ disciplined approach in free agency. He filled needs and didn’t go for the big name.
“I think that bodes well,” Billick said. “It’s all well and good to want to make a big splash, but most teams that do that aren’t very good. That’s just not the way it works. I’m sure Joe operates under the way Ozzie and me did when we first got going.
“We were never a big free-agency-splash team. The No. 1 job is to address those things in free agency so then you’re not forced into making a choice and you truly can take the best available athlete or best available player rather than be biased by need. Need is a terrible evaluator. With some of the moves they’ve made, he’s given himself some latitude to do just that.”
Billick, now an NFL Network analyst, called Douglas “a grinder” and was impressed with how he hustled, pored over film and worked on projects. Newsome hired Douglas in 2000 as a scout, and Douglas and Billick worked together for eight years.
Their relationship started to build from Douglas being Billick’s “Turk” — the guy who tells players that the coach wants to see them before they’re cut. But Douglas evolved into much more than that in his 15 years with the Ravens. He was instrumental in the drafting of Joe Flacco and other players who contributed to Baltimore’s Super Bowl XLVII-winning team.
“I could see right away that Ozzie developed faith in Joe just by the way he would task Joe and the way he would include him,” Billick said. “You got the sense that Ozzie sees him as one of his guys.”
Billick, who coached the Ravens to the Super Bowl XXXV victory over the Giants, believes Douglas was well-groomed for this moment because of all the time he spent with Newsome and later with Howie Roseman in Philadelphia.
Douglas is preparing for his first NFL Draft as a general manager. But “first draft” takes on a different meaning because it will be a first for everyone. Because of COVID-19, it will be a virtual draft, with commissioner Roger Goodell announcing the picks from his house and all team executives, scouts and coaches working from their homes.
“It’s kind of a unique one,” Billick said. “It puts a higher premium on the ability to relate and communicate with the other GMs and the people that are making decisions to bring the organization together, to get the input that you need. It’s going to test you, but I think Joe will be great at it.
“One thing about Joe’s demeanor: if you see Joe panic, you’re the first one. He is a very cool character that doesn’t seem to let all the chaos around him get to him. He just seems to keep it even-keeled.”
Billick expects Douglas to follow in Newsome's footsteps and trust his scouts, personnel guys and coaches when it comes to picking players.
“He learned at the foot of the master in my opinion, Ozzie Newsome,” Billick said. “When you sit and visit with Joe, Joe’s a good listener. He listens to what’s being said. He realizes there’s something to be gained from that. That’s Ozzie’s biggest strength, in my opinion, and Joe, you got the sense, is the same way.”
The Jets have the No. 11 pick and could draft an offensive lineman or wide receiver. Billick expects Sam Darnold to weigh heavily in the decision one way or another.
“I know he has a lot of faith in Sam Darnold,” Billick said. “They know the No. 1 job is you got to wrap around Darnold those things that he needs to be successful.”