Will we be calling Joe Douglas “Trader Joe” when the draft rolls around in April? One draft guru thinks so.
ESPN Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. believes the Jets could trade into the top 10 to target an offensive tackle. During his most recent “First Draft” podcast with fellow draft guru Todd McShay, Kiper was asked which team he could see moving up in the draft and he picked the Jets.
“I think that could be a spot,” Kiper said of the Jets sitting at No. 11 in the Draft. “If you want go back with [D’Brickahsaw] Ferguson and [Nick] Mangold, they’ve done this before with the emphasis on the offensive line and they hit on those two guys. I think the Jets particularly are going to be aggressive at 11 and try to move up to get the offensive tackle that they feel is best to help out Sam Darnold.”
Kiper is basing this off of the belief the Jets will be targeting an offensive tackle in the first round of the draft and that several tackles could come off the board before the Jets get to pick at 11. The Giants, Chargers, Cardinals and Browns have all been linked with tackles in recent mock drafts. All four teams pick before the Jets. Would Douglas be happy taking the fourth-best tackle on his board if there is a run on tackles?
“Look at the Jets, that’s going to be a point of emphasis is building that line for Sam Darnold,” Kiper said. “Look, waiting until 11 … I understand they could take a wide receiver as well, but they’ve got to help this offensive line out. Before you worry about receiver, get the line solid. When you look at the lineman that they prefer out of that group of say four to five, which one are they targeting? They don’t want to wait to see what Cleveland does and they don’t want to see what Jacksonville does and what Arizona does and what the Chargers may do if they don’t take the quarterback. They want to go get their guy.”
It is still early in the draft process. The NFL Scouting Combine is not for another two weeks. However, five tackles have already emerged as potential top 15 picks. Alabama’s Jedrick Wills, Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs, Houston’s Josh Jones, Louisville’s Mekhi Becton and Georgia’s Andrew Thomas are all getting early love from the draftniks.
Kiper’s logic makes some sense. The offensive line is a huge area of need for the Jets. But so is edge rusher, wide receiver and cornerback. Would they be happy to stay at No. 11 and take the second-best edge rusher if their highest-rated tackles are gone? I think so.
The other thing to consider is how much capital Douglas will be working with. The Jets only have seven draft picks, four in the top 80. In addition to the position holes, Douglas also desperately needs to build up the middle class of this roster. The Jets don’t have the necessary depth on their roster to compete with the league’s best.
Last year, Douglas was part of a front office in Philadelphia that made an aggressive move in the first round. The Eagles moved up from 25 to 22 in a trade with the Ravens to take tackle Andre Dillard. It cost them the No. 25 pick, a fourth-round pick and a sixth-round pick. Two years ago, Douglas and the Eagles moved up three spots in the second round to take tight end Dallas Goedert.
Moving up may be tempting for the Jets, especially if they fall in love with one of these tackles over the others, but staying put and holding onto more picks makes more sense.