One press-conference quote from Joe Douglas could be a hint to New York Jets’ 2022 draft plans
New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas answered questions from the media during a press conference on Thursday, one week ahead of the 2022 NFL draft. Most notably, he commented on the Deebo Samuel trade rumors and the whereabouts of Mekhi Becton.
While Douglas’ comments on Samuel and Becton were the biggest attention-grabbers from his nearly 24-minute appearance, his most telling quote of the press conference was a statement that seemed to be a reference to one of the team’s most difficult conundrums entering the draft.
Asked about how he balances addressing positional needs with taking the best player available, Douglas declared his preference for the latter strategy.
“I think you get in trouble if you’re breaking it up by position of need. I think you have to take the best player available,” Douglas said.
That’s a fairly generic answer you would expect to get from most general managers. His next statement is the one that really popped out, potentially revealing a glimpse into the team’s draft plans.
Douglas brought up an interesting quote from Ozzie Newsome, his former boss in Baltimore. Newsome served as the Ravens’ general manager from 2002 to 2018 and has served as their executive vice president of player personnel since 2019. Douglas worked as a scout for the Ravens from 2000 to 2014.
“Ozzie [Newsome] used to always have a saying, ‘A luxury today could be a necessity tomorrow.’ If you get away from your process, if you get away from your board, I think that’s when you can get into a real jam,” Douglas said.
That quote from Newsome sounds like it could be a direct reference to the great debate of whether or not the Jets should consider drafting an offensive tackle with the fourth overall pick.
When the Jets come onto the clock at No. 4, there is a realistic chance that the highest-ranked available player on their board is either North Carolina State tackle Ikem Ekwonu or Alabama tackle Evan Neal. However, the Jets appear to already have two starting tackles on their roster in Mekhi Becton and George Fant.
The presence of Becton and Fant makes the tackle position seem like a non-issue for the Jets. But questions arise when looking toward the future.
Becton’s durability is a major concern after he played 100% of the Jets’ offensive snaps in only eight games across his first two seasons. Fant will be a free agent after the 2022 season and turns 30 years old this July.
With those concerns in mind, it’s possible the Jets could simultaneously see the tackle position as a short-term strength and a long-term weakness – aligning with Douglas’ quote from Newsome.
Selecting a tackle might be considered a “luxury” today but the position could become a “necessity” in the near future.
You can hear Douglas speak about this topic at around the 19:41 mark in the video below.
Could Douglas pull the trigger on Ekwonu or Neal at No. 4 regardless of the talent New York already has on the roster at offensive tackle?