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3 traits commonly seen throughout NY Jets’ 2023 draft class

Israel Abanikanda, NY Jets, 2023 Draft Picks, Class
Israel Abanikanda, New York Jets, Getty Images

Joe Douglas is establishing an identity for the New York Jets

Jets general manager Joe Douglas just completed his fourth draft with the team. By now, he’s made it clear what he believes a New York Jets football player is supposed to look like. Douglas has established a distinct identity for the team.

Throughout his seven-pick 2023 draft class, Douglas consistently emphasized three specific traits, each of which he has already shown to prioritize in his previous drafts. These traits define the culture and identity Douglas envisions for a championship-caliber Jets roster.

Athleticism

Douglas developed a reputation for favoring top-tier athletes throughout his first three drafts. He doubled down on that reputation in 2023.

Five of the Jets’ seven draft picks participated in enough testing drills this offseason (either at the combine or their pro day) to be rated with a Relative Athletic Score (RAS), which is a 0-to-10 scale that evaluates a player’s overall athleticism relative to all other prospects at their position since 1987.

All five of those players scored a RAS above 9.00:

  • EDGE Will McDonald: 9.66 (3rd among EDGE selected in 2023 draft)
  • RB Israel Abanikanda: 9.63 (3rd among RB selected in 2023 draft)
  • LB Zaire Barnes: 9.12 (7th among LB selected in 2023 draft)
  • CB Jarrick Bernard-Converse: 9.78 (6th among CB selected in 2023 draft)
  • TE Zack Kuntz: 10.00 (T-1st among TE all-time)

Joe Tippmann and Carter Warren did not test, but both players’ tape suggests they would have had a great chance of recording an elite RAS.

Douglas has constructed a Jets roster that is loaded with athletic specimens at just about every position.

Length

Not only does Douglas value athleticism, but he places a premium on length, too. Football is a game of inches, and an extra sliver of length can be the difference between winning and losing a rep. Douglas recognizes this.

Will McDonald’s 34⅞” arms place him at the 90th percentile all-time among edge rushers. In college, McDonald proved he can use his length to finish plays at an elite level as he forced 10 fumbles and amassed 34 sacks.

Joe Tippmann brings unusual height to the center position. At 6’6″, only three percent of centers in combine history were taller. Tippmann’s 32¾” arms actually only place him at the 50th percentile for centers, but due to his height, he still has an 80th-percentile wingspan at 80⅜”.

Carter Warren looks the part of an NFL tackle on tape, largely because of his 35⅜” arms (88th percentile). Most importantly, there are signs that he knows how to maximize his length, as he shows good timing and accuracy on his punches to consistently make first contact and take control of the battle.

Length isn’t commonly mentioned as a key trait for running backs, but Israel Abanikanda’s 32″ arms place him at the 82nd percentile for the position. Abanikanda’s long arms could add to his upside as a pass-catcher and pass-blocker, which are two areas of his game where he has room for development.

Jarrick Bernard-Converse’s 32″ arms put him at the 70th percentile for cornerbacks, and Zack Kuntz’s 34″ arms put him at the 83rd percentile for tight ends. Zaire Barnes was the only exception in this class as his 32″ arms rank at the 39th percentile for linebackers.

All over the field, the Jets have players who are not only fast, explosive, and agile but lengthy, too. With excellent team-wide speed and tremendous team-wide length, the Jets hope to close ground in all situations faster than any other team in football.

Character

The Jets picked seven players and there is not a single non-injury-related off-field concern attached to any of them. All seven players are regarded as high-character men and should fit seamlessly into a locker room that has championship aspirations.

Douglas continued building on his reputation for valuing team captains. Carter Warren and Zaire Barnes were team captains. Jarrick Bernard-Converse was also a game captain for multiple games in his career while Zack Kuntz was a team captain in high school.

While Joe Tippmann was not a team captain, his leadership on the Wisconsin offensive line has been lauded by the Badgers’ coaching staff, particularly regarding his ability to communicate protections.

Douglas began emphasizing high-character guys from the moment he entered the building, and it hasn’t been for naught. The Jets established a strong enough culture to lure in one of the most (if not the most) high-profile veteran acquisitions in recent NFL history. If Douglas had not emphasized character so strongly in his evaluations over the past few years, the Jets could have experienced off-field drama that may have turned Aaron Rodgers off to the idea of joining the franchise.

The Jets have not been a good football team on the field in recent years, but because of Douglas’ valuation of character, they have still been able to develop a positive reputation as an organization. This is an underrated aspect of long-term team-building in the NFL and Douglas deserves credit for emphasizing it.

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mlesko73
mlesko73
1 year ago

Thanks Mike for pointing out the often-overlooked character aspect of building a team/culture. Many get short-sighted when it comes to adding “talent” and forget what a player brings to the culture and locker room. Winning creates the best chemistry, but to get there a team has to have each other’s backs.
I think the media’s reaction to selecting WMcD was absurd (including some here). Does anyone honestly think that the prospect of having none of the four OT’s available wasn’t planned for in the war room? Just b/c Belicheat was involved made it a story…”Joe D got caught with his pants down…” etc. Utterly ridiculous.
Long-term success, stability, and respectability as an organization are the goals.

Last edited 1 year ago by mlesko73
wjm12549@yahoo.com
wjm12549@yahoo.com
1 year ago

what do you think of the UDFA’s?

Psi
Psi
1 year ago

Hi Michael…with JDs obvious emphasis on RAS, it would be interesting to see what the RAS tendencies have been for the playoff teams over the last several years. Is there a skew one way or the other? Is it at all predictive of team success?

Jets71
Jets71
1 year ago

As for the logo, and noticing the press conferences. I see WAAAYYY too much black! Even the black helmet on sets now. Get rid of the all black look, the black helmet and go throwbacks. You can go 80’s, and 2000’s in place of the all black horrible look that EVERY TEAM USES. You can simply replace the green pants with the black. This all black look is too conforming.

Psi
Psi
1 year ago
Reply to  Jets71

The color choices are subjective. I like the black. I also like the 80s look. I do not like the all green. It was interesting that they did not once play in their traditional green top and white pants last year. Odd…unless they’re planning on phasing it out.

Jets71
Jets71
1 year ago
Reply to  Psi

I agree subjective….you like the black huh? I know people do. My feeling is that a “team color” is to differentiate your team from others. There is some pride in wearing that color. All teams are now using so much black I feel it’s all blending in. I get it though, people do like it. It just doesn’t feel like “the Jets” to me.

I also found it odd they didn’t wear the green on white, and I think it’s sad. BTW, I also do not like the all green, however if given the choice, I’d go with that over all black. I do like the white on black pants, which I think could give the folks who like the black something too. I think they can dump the green pants altogether.

Jonathan Richter
1 year ago

Good article! I’m happy with the class for all the reasons you mentioned. Tippman is going to be the biggest impact pick. His ability to point out blocking assignments is huge. How many blown up plays could have been avoided if McGovern had simply told Tomlinson “you’ve got that guy.”

Most of these guys will be starters on special teams, which really is 1/3 of the game. Our ST were really inconsistent last year. All these fast athletic guys will help Coach Boyer get us back to #1. We’ve got a number of options to upgrade Berrios’ returning, and Morestead should be more consistent than Mann.

I think Zach Kuntz is going to play earlier than people think. I’m not sure why everyone thinks he needs work. You can’t teach tall, fast and athletic. As long as he runs the routes properly he should be fine. I see him as more of a WR than a TE. He really doesn’t block much. I think he takes Denzel Mims spot on the roster. I recommend people check out his YT video touring the EXOS training facility he used to get ready for the Combine. All the trainers there said the reason he did so well at the Combine is because he did every single thing they told him to do in a dedicated professional manner. THAT is what JD is looking for. Guys willing to put in the work to get better. Both he and Izzy Abanikada are big “steal of the draft” candidates.

For people who think adding pass rusher in the 1st round was a mistake, the World Champion Philadelphia Eagles, who led the NFL in sacks by a WIDE margin, just added 2 D linemen in the 1st round. In Joe Douglas’ world, the trenches are always a position of need.

Go Jets! Super Bowl or Bust!

Last edited 1 year ago by Jonathan Richter
Jets71
Jets71
1 year ago

You couldn’t be more right about McGovern.

Jets71
Jets71
1 year ago

Yes, and I like it. I think everybody overreacted after round 1, because the pundits said it would be OT. They all WANTED that swap of 1st round picks with GB to be the story, so they made it a story. There was only 1 OT left at 13 anyway, so there wasn’t a choice of tackles is was the 4th best guy or another player.

The Patoilets’ biggest need was OL, so the Genius trades the pick to Pitt so THEY can take the OT just to shaft the Jets? I’ve seen enough of the media when it comes to this topic. It’s old, tired and they need a new song.

We have no idea if any of these guys will be good, it’s all a best guess, I always thought, DL or trade back for TE early for the Jets in this draft. Maybe WMD, can actually get QB’s on the ground, and he becomes what they need, or maybe he stinks. That reality exists for any draft pick. The point is they took the guy they feel has the best chance to make an impact and help the team. They didn’t reach for the 4th best guy when there were top players at other positions available. That’s program building.

The Jets won more games last season than in the previous 2 combined. Just about every “rebuild blueprint” points to year 3 as the year you become a contender. This is year 3 for Saleh, and again, year 3 for Joe as the guy running the football show, are they not a contender?

Psi
Psi
1 year ago
Reply to  Jets71

WMD…that’s awesome.

Jets71
Jets71
1 year ago
Reply to  Psi

I’m going with it! haha

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