Former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah doesn’t see many “blue-chip players” on the Jets at the important positions other than quarterback Sam Darnold. Jeremiah expects general manager Joe Douglas to start changing that.
Jeremiah, now an NFL Network draft analyst, worked in the Ravens' scouting department for two years with Douglas. He believes Douglas will be able to vastly improve the team's underwhelming roster in this week’s NFL Draft and wouldn’t be surprised if Douglas is very active in trades.
Many draft analysts think Douglas should take an offensive tackle with the No. 11 pick on Thursday night and grab a wide receiver in the second round with the No. 48 selection. Jeremiah, in his most recent mock draft, has the Jets filling a major need by taking Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb at 11. But he can see Douglas making a deal for draft capital with either of the Jets’ first two picks.
“I would not be shocked if either at 11 or 48 [Douglas] traded down to get even more picks in that third- and fourth-round range because then they can really upgrade their roster in this draft,” Jeremiah said.
An added wrinkle is the situation of two-time Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams. ESPN reported on Friday that Adams wouldn’t be taking part in the voluntary — and virtual — offseason program that begins April 27 because the Jets haven’t “expressed any official interest” in extending his contract. It has ramped up speculation that Douglas will listen to trade offers this week.
Adams, however, seems to be the type of player Douglas values, according to Jeremiah. He said Douglas always has liked players who are tough and “really, really highly competitive.” Douglas said the plan is for Adams to be “a Jet for life.” That still might be the case, but if someone makes Douglas a Godfather offer — one he can’t refuse — he has to listen, especially with all the holes the Jets have.
“When you look at premier positions, you’re talking about edge rusher, corner, left tackle," Jeremiah said. "There weren’t a lot of blue-chip players in those positions when [Douglas] got there. In free agency, he did a good job of spreading the resources around just to make sure they could line up and play.”
Jeremiah expects Douglas’ main focus to be on putting better players around Darnold so he can be successful.
Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs, Louisville’s Mekhi Becton, Alabama’s Jedrick Wills and Georgia’s Andrew Thomas are considered the top four tackles. Jeremiah believes Wills or Wirfs will be taken by the Giants at No. 4. If the Jets can’t grab one of the top tackles on their board, Jeremiah thinks they should take a game-changing receiver. After Lamb, the best receivers are Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III.
“They’ve got to find ways to score points,” Jeremiah said. “They just couldn’t do it last year. When you’re 32nd in scoring and 31st on third down, I don’t know how they won seven games. You give the defense all the credit in the world. They got to go get that [offense] fixed. That starts with getting much better up front and then you got to get Sam Darnold some weapons. That’s going to be high on the priority list with this draft.
“At 11, do you want to finish the run on tackles or do you want to begin the run on wide receivers or do you want to trade down? That’s kind of the decision that they’ll have to make there.”
The Jets have two third-round picks: No. 68 from the Giants and 79. Jeremiah said the Jets might find two starters with those picks.
“They can get a starter on the interior of the offensive line with one of those and I think they can get a starter at wide receiver with the other pick,” he said. “Joe’s going to do very well in the middle rounds of this draft. That’s where his sweet spot is.”
Douglas also could use one or both of those third-round picks to acquire more draft capital. If not, taking a cornerback and edge rusher or receiver could be the move.