The Jets exited the 2019 NFL Draft with just their own seven picks. Over the course of a year, the Jets, led by general manager Joe Douglas, would turn those seven picks, plus a 2021 pick, into 13 players through seven trades. Douglas (with an assist from head coach Adam Gase) managed to acquire more …
The Jets exited the 2019 NFL Draft with just their own seven picks. Over the course of a year, the Jets, led by general manager Joe Douglas, would turn those seven picks, plus a 2021 pick, into 13 players through seven trades.
Douglas (with an assist from head coach Adam Gase) managed to acquire more picks and address multiple needs for a roster with more questions than answers. The Jets traded two former first-round picks, acquired one pick that they then traded twice and even managed to get back a 2021 pick that was part of an earlier trade with their longtime rival.
“When we look at these draft picks as a whole, we hope this can be a draft that can springboard us,” Douglas said on “The Michael Kay Show.”
Here is a look at how the Jets turned those seven picks into 13 players, 12 whom are still on the roster:
Jets CEO Christopher Johnson fired general manager Mike Maccagnan on a Wednesday morning last May just under three weeks after the draft. One of the reasons was Maccagnan’s indecisiveness, which was evident to Johnson during the draft.
Johnson named Gase as the interim GM. Gase did not wait long to make his first move. He traded linebacker Darron Lee to the Chiefs a few hours after Maccagnan was fired on May 15. Lee had been the team’s first-round pick in 2016 and a favorite of former coach Todd Bowles. But Lee had underachieved and finished the 2018 season with a four-game suspension for a substance-abuse violation.
The Jets acquired a sixth-round pick for Lee, a pick that ended up being No. 211 overall. It would be a pick that the Jets would trade away twice … to the same team. Lee won the Super Bowl with Kansas City, but was inactive for their playoff games. He is currently a free agent.
The next move came early in training camp. Douglas had been hired in June and had enough time to evaluate the roster to see where the biggest issue was — the offensive line. He swung a deal on Aug. 5 with the Baltimore Ravens, where he had worked for 15 years, for guard Alex Lewis. He sent them a conditional seventh-round pick, which ended up being No. 225 overall. Lewis became the starting left guard in Week 5 and started 12 games for the Jets, who re-signed him in March. Baltimore traded the pick to the Vikings, who selected Michigan State defensive lineman Kenny Willekes.
A few weeks after the deal for Lewis, Douglas was looking to acquire another player. He traded the pick acquired in the Lee trade (No. 211 overall) to the Colts for cornerback Nate Hairston. The trade had conditions on it and if Hairston was not on the active roster for a certain number of games, the pick would be returned to the Jets. It is unclear what the exact number was, but Hairston ended up in 11 games, meaning the condition was not met and the Jets got their pick back … for now.
Douglas made a move that would not affect the 2020 draft, but still came into play during it when he traded a 2021 sixth-round pick to the Patriots for wide receiver Demaryius Thomas in September, the first trade between the teams since Bill Belichick became the Patriots coach.
The big move by Douglas came the day before the trade deadline in October. He sent Leonard Williams, the team’s 2015 first-round pick, to the Giants for a third-round pick in this draft and what ended up being a fifth-rounder in 2021. Williams was scheduled to hit free agency after the year and the Jets were not planning on re-signing him. It was a stunning haul for Williams.
That gets us to this year’s draft. Douglas stayed put at No. 11 overall and took Mekhi Becton. But in the second round, Douglas began making his moves. He traded out of No. 48 overall, sending it to the Seahawks for the No. 59 pick (second round) and No. 101 (third round). Denzel Mims, a wide receiver from Baylor, surprisingly slid all the way to 59 and the Jets grabbed him.
“When we were getting closer to 48 we had a strong group of players, not only wide receivers but other positions,” Douglas said. “We just felt like with the amount of players we had, moving back to 59 and realizing you may lose a few but there’s still going to be enough players that you’re excited about. We felt that wasn’t too far to move back and we were able to get it done with [GM] John [Schneider] and Seattle.”
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The Jets then had the No. 68 overall pick from the Giants thanks to the Williams deal. They took versatile Cal safety Ashtyn Davis with the pick. After making another pick in the third round, Douglas ended Day 2 of the draft by swinging a deal to load up for Day 3. He traded pick No. 101, which he had acquired from Seattle, to the Patriots for two fourth-round picks (Nos. 125 and 129) and the sixth-round pick in 2021 that he had traded to them in September for Thomas.
After nearly 20 years of the Border War meaning no trades between the two teams, Douglas had now made two trades with the Patriots in the span of seven months.
“For us, we had several calls regarding 101 and when New England called it happened to be the best offer we had on the table,” Douglas said. “It was an opportunity to add two picks in the fourth round and get our sixth-round pick back that we traded for Demaryius last year. It was a good opportunity for bolstering the picks we had for [Saturday].”
Douglas took FIU quarterback James Morgan and Charlotte tackle Cameron Clark with the picks from New England.
After making one selection in the sixth round, Douglas had one pick left — No. 211. This is the pick the Jets originally received from the Chiefs for Lee, traded to the Colts for Hairston and then got back when the conditions of the trade were not met. Douglas sent the pick to the Colts again, trading it to end the Jets’ 2020 draft in return for cornerback Quincy Wilson, a former second-round pick who can compete for a starting spot with the Jets.
In the end, the Jets drafted nine players and added veterans Lewis, Hairston, Wilson and Thomas through Douglas’ wheeling and dealing. Only Thomas is not currently on the roster. He remains a free agent and the Jets have not ruled out bringing him back.
Douglas performed a math trick for the Jets — turning those seven picks into 13 players. We won’t know for a few years how all these moves will work out, but the Jets hope this draft is the foundation for what they are building.