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Joe Douglas will look to strike the right balance in 2021 NFL draft

Joe Douglas, Zach Wilson
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

Speaking publicly before the NFL draft, New York Jets GM Joe Douglas explained what he’s looking to do after taking a quarterback at No. 2.

The New York Jets have made a list and are checking it twice, as Christmas in springtime is only a week away. Luckily, hints about the presents have already arrived.

Jets general manager Joe Douglas offered some insight as to what’s on that list when he spoke publicly Thursday afternoon. New York owns the second overall pick in Thursday’s proceedings (8 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN/NFL Network)—the earliest it’ll pick since taking Keyshawn Johnson with 1996’s top pick. The Jets also have the 23rd pick on Thursday, obtained from Seattle through the Jamal Adams trade last offseason.

It’s widely assumed that the Jets will be taking a quarterback with the second choice, as the franchise role remains vacant with Sam Darnold in Carolina. Should the Jets go the young quarterback route at No. 2, the subsequent picks become critical.

Some presume that the nine picks to follow would take on an offensive feel. Douglas wasn’t willing to commit to such an outlook, seeking instead to create a balance.

“There is a balance we’re trying to strike,” Douglas told the media on his pre-draft Zoom session. “You’re trying to build the best team you can possibly build. That’s offense, defense, and special teams. There also is an importance to really doing everything we can to provide what we can to make a young quarterback successful. There is a balance that goes into that.”

This will be Douglas’ second draft at the helm after taking offensive lineman Mekhi Becton with the eleventh overall pick his first time around. Many expect the Jets to use the second pick on BYU quarterback Zach Wilson, while others have suggested Justin Fields, Mac Jones, or Trey Lance.

Douglas, speaking alongside assistant general manager Rex Hogan, wasn’t interested in mentioning any prospects by name, at least not until they’re wearing or holding an official Jets jersey with their name on the back of it. But he did make clear that the eventual choice will be one that is fine-tuned for the systems that Robert Saleh and Mike LaFleur are preparing to install.

“Obviously, scheme-fit is important,” Douglas added. “There are so many traits you look for … obviously there are the physical traits that go into it, the arm strength, the athleticism. Then there are the intelligent traits: the intelligence, the leadership, the mental, the physical toughness. There are really so many traits that go into every quarterback evaluation.”

A crucial evaluation process has been somewhat hindered by the lingering effects of the ongoing health crisis, but Douglas praised the job of his talent evaluation staff. He later expounded upon of his favorite parts of the offseason was a meeting with his new coaching staff, which begat fateful discussions in what the team needs and seeks at each position available in the draft.

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“One of the best meetings we had this offseason was when coach Saleh and his coordinators, his position coaches all came into the draft room and presented their profile tapes on each specific position,” Douglas said. “We were able to go through their critical factors, their specifics, exactly what they’re looking for. We were able to down that information and our personnel staff really put that to use.

They did an outstanding job of taking that information and pawning it. That has really helped us moving forward. We were able to really hit the ground running as a group.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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