Joe Douglas is almost set for his first NFL Draft as a general manager. He will spend the next few days meeting with Jets ownership and members of his personnel and scouting department and putting together his draft board. But he seems to have one thing squared away.
Douglas’ makeshift first-floor office in his New Jersey home is just about done.
“I’ve tried to create an environment that’s almost identical to the environment I have in my office at Florham Park,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of help from a lot of people doing that. My wife was upset because we moved into our house during the season. I haven’t really spent much time in the house. We really didn’t have the proper decorations up. I feel like the last two days, we’ve made sure we get pictures on the wall, so it looks good for the camera. She’s been on me about that.”
Douglas, like most of the rest of the world, is working from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic and will be Thursday night when the NFL Draft begins its three-day event.
It’s certainly unusual circumstances for someone who will be running a team’s draft for the first time. There’s no war room where team executives and decision-makers are sitting next to and across from one another at a long table. Everyone is working remotely and communicating that way.
But Douglas, who spent 15 years as a Ravens scout, is positive and upbeat. He believes it will be “a smooth process” and said there are “backup plans in case something crazy were to happen with power or internet.”
The Jets currently have eight picks in the draft. They have the No. 11 choice Thursday night and four of the first 79. Their biggest areas of need are at wide receiver, cornerback, edge rusher and offensive tackle.
With no pro days to attend or visits because of the current state of the world, and most interviews being done by FaceTime or Zoom, Douglas’ job is that much more difficult. But he has faith in his staff and will lean heavily on them.
“You really have to trust the work that our guys have done since August going into the schools,” he said. “Our scouts there, our recon team, they’re out front and gaining as much information and knowledge about players as possible. These guys do a great job going into schools and building relationships with people in programs and give great information on players, their makeup, their personality, their football character. We lean on that information every year, especially this year.
“Also, our coaching staff has done a tremendous job in terms of using the technology that they’ve been given to get to know these players as best as they can through the last weeks with the videoconference calls.”
Douglas said he will continue to collaborate with assistant GM Rex Hogan, player personnel director Chad Alexander, personnel operations director Dan Zbojovsky and the scouting staff and put together his draft board by Thursday.
“We’re going to be ready to roll Thursday,” he said. “Philosophically, we’re going to take the best player available, and our board is going to represent that . . . We’re trying to bring in the players that can make an impact for us and add depth and really stabilize and fortify this roster.”