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Jets likely to tackle offensive line with first-round pick in NFL Draft

Mekhi Becton of the Louisville Cardinals reacts in

Mekhi Becton of the Louisville Cardinals reacts in the second half of the game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Cardinal Stadium on Oct. 5, 2018, in Louisville, Ky. Credit: Getty Images/Joe Robbins

Joe Douglas will be working from his makeshift, first-floor home office looking at television and computer monitors, remotely going over his draft board and trade scenarios with his staff and deciding what’s the best thing to do when it’s time for the Jets to make their selection.

Barring a trade, with the No. 11 pick in the NFL Draft on Thursday, Douglas likely will choose an offensive tackle to help protect Sam Darnold or a playmaking wide receiver to give the third-year quarterback a needed weapon.

Most draft experts and analysts believe the Jets should go with one of the tackles in the first round and address the wide receiver position in the second, with the No. 48 pick. The Jets also will have picks 68 and 79 in the third round. They could end up with two wide receivers on Day 2 of the draft (rounds 2-3) and another lineman or cornerback, another position of need.

In Douglas’ first draft as an NFL general manager,  he has a chance to add some difference-makers to a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in nine years.

“I don’t take this opportunity lightly,” he said. “We have to do our best to get the right type of player and the right type of person that’s going to come in here and turn things around and get us going in the right direction. We’ve seen impact drafts make a real difference in a short time.”

Douglas, who spent 15 years as a Ravens scout, was mentored by some good people. He worked with Ravens executive Ozzie Newsome all 15 years in Baltimore and Eagles president/general manager Howie Roseman for three years before the Jets named him their general manager last June. He brought with him three Super Bowl rings and everything he learned from those successful teams, and he will apply it to this draft.

“[Ravens] Coach [John] Harbaugh used to say to us all the time: ‘Who are the guys that we’re excited about? Let’s get the guys we’re all excited about,' ” Douglas said.

He’s looking for players who love football, are ultracompetitive and have a strong drive and desire to impose their will on their opponent.

The Jets, who have eight picks overall in the three-day draft, haven’t taken an offensive lineman in the first round since 2006, when they hit the jackpot with D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold. The last time they took a receiver was five years earlier (Santana Moss). All signs seem to be pointing to the Jets ending the lineman streak.

Douglas noted that it's important to weigh how many players are viewed as a starter at one position compared to the other. Oklahoma receiver CeeDee Lamb and Alabama’s duo of Jerry Jeudy and speedy Henry Ruggs III would be appealing to the receiver-starved Jets. But the consensus is that there are far more receivers than tackles who can be an NFL starter, and those wideouts can be found in the second and third rounds.

Alabama right tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. is a name to watch for the Jets if he drops to 11 and a good fit. The other tackles who could be in the mix are Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs, Louisville’s 6-7, 364-pound Mekhi Becton and Georgia’s Andrew Thomas. All four are projected to be starters in the NFL and would make the Jets’ revamped line whole.

Douglas’ focus in free agency was the offensive line. He signed left tackle George Fant, left guard Alex Lewis, center Connor McDermott and right guard Greg Van Roten. Last year’s third-round pick, Chuma Edoga, is penciled in to play right tackle, with McDermott backing him up. The Jets are looking for improvements and to shore up this spot.

“If we can find a guy at the right fit that can come in and upgrade the tackle spot and can help us, that’s going to be an interesting addition,” Douglas said.

If the Jets do grab a tackle in the first round, there are a number of quality receivers they could take in the second round and perhaps the third, including USC’s Michael Pittman Jr., Clemson’s Tee Higgins, Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool, TCU’s Jalen Reagor and Colorado’s Laviska Shenault.

“We’ve done a lot of work on these wide receivers. We feel like it’s a good group,” Douglas said. “If there’s a wide receiver when we’re on the clock that we think has a chance to come in here, make an impact and help us offensively or on special teams as a core teamer or returner, those are all the things we’re looking at.”

JETS DRAFT PICKS

First round: 11th overall

Second round: No. 48

Third round: 68*, 79

Fourth round: 120

Fifth round: 158

Sixth round: 191, 211

* — acquired from Giants in Leonard Williams trade

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