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Another Whiff

Joe Douglas needs to start showing something

NFL: New York Jets-Training Camp Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets have waived Quincy Wilson from the team. Wilson was a rare mistake by solid GM Chris Ballard of the Colts who selected him #46 overall in his first draft as GM. Wilson seemed to fit the physical style of Indy defense as a zone corner but he soon fell out of favor in the Colts secondary and was traded to the Jets for the 211th pick of the 2020 draft, which was the 32nd pick of the 6th round.

What is key here is the fact that the traded pick was the last pick the Jets had in the 2020 draft. The trade of that pick pretty much ended the Jets draft because the 7th round selection the Jets had was traded to the Baltimore Ravens for guard Alex Lewis back in August of 2019. There were a lot of interesting prospects on the board when the Jets pretty much gave up on the draft in the 6th round.

The point here is that the Jets are in severe need of talent. No stone should be left unturned in the pursuit of skilled capable players. Late round picks are like lotto tickets; the more you have the better chance of hitting something of value. When a team like the Colts gives up on a 2nd round draft pick in just a few years it should raise immediate red flags. To think somehow you are going to turn that player into a valuable member of your secondary is in reality a pipe dream.

For a person like Joe Douglas whose claim to fame is scouting and finding talent, it is puzzling that he would give up a late pick. Especially in his first draft as a GM you would think he would want to exercise all avenues at his disposal to find that hidden gem.

Personally as someone who has scouted the draft with a passion for over 30 years I really thought the trade was abysmal and I said so when it happened. When I scouted Wilson I thought he was slow to react, even though he ran a 4.54/40 at the combine. Now that time is fairly poor but you can make up for it with anticipation along with understanding a team’s route structure. Wilson never showed that kind of ability of anticipation or understanding the route combinations. Wilson also never showed great character or any secondary traits that would make you think he was a diamond in the rough.

For the Jets to abandon the services of a player when they are in such dire need of secondary help is a testament to the lack of skills (both athletic + mental) that Wilson possesses. Wilson was only active for 3 games this year with a single start while making one tackle. If you can’t crack the starting lineup in the Jets secondary there must be a serious lack of ability/competitiveness.

I really disdain these types of trades. It is almost like a gesture of saving face for another GM. This way if I (as the Jets GM) make a huge mistake with a 2nd round pick that same GM will reciprocate with a 6th round pick back to my team.

I will just come out and say this was a poor trade for a guy (Wilson) I had originally rated as a 5th round pick. He was not special at all and the only reason I had him that high was that he had size so I thought he could possibly develop into a safety. His cover skills were poor as he was very handsy with receivers.

Joe Douglas is still in the honeymoon part of his Jets life, but that is soon coming to an end. I realize there was little he could do last year, but the team may be worse this year after his draft and free agent spending. I had huge problems with his free agents and his draft choices have not become difference makers, though I think Denzel Mims may soon.

So far many of the moves Joe Douglas has made have been disastrous. The Ryan Kalil move was expensive and his play was horrific. Pierre Desir has been just awful as a corner and the fact he is still a starter tells you how good the players behind him are. The Kelechi Osemele signing and handling of his injury made the Jets look poor around the league. The offensive line is still a major problem despite a few free agent signings and 4 new starters.

So who could Joe Douglas have selected with that pick in the 6th round? Let’s look at who he could have drafted, I will not cherry pick players who have done well: I will defer to my notes on who I was hoping for at the time.

1) Rodrigo Blankenship (Kicker)

After the Jets selected Braden Mann as their punter in the 6th round (#191) I thought that the Jets would come right back and select the best kicker on the board in an effort to shore up both sides of the special teams. A quality kicker is worth far more than many give him credit for. Teams who forget to target special teams as a point of emphasis will soon rue that decision. Blankenship became a UDFA; the Jets whiffed on him twice as he signed with the Colts. Blankenship is not perfect but he has made 16 of 18 field goals missing once each from 30-39 and 40-49. He is also 18-20 on extra points. He is not perfect but he is young and learning with a big leg.

2) Yasir Durant (offensive tackle)

Durant also went undrafted in 2020. He has superior size (6’ 6” 331 lbs) with great length (34 3/4” arms) plus he played left tackle in the SEC at Missouri. He would be a developmental prospect with starter potential. He had a bad habit of stopping his feet, then lunging forward to make his blocks on the edge. This is a coachable error in his technique which could be ironed out with training. Yasir signed with Kansas City as a UDFA and has appeared in 3 games without a start.

3) Dane Jackson CB

Jackson was a 3 year starter for the University of Pittsburgh. The Bills selected him in the 7th round. Jackson is behind Tre’Davious White, Taron Johnson and Josh Norman on the depth chart. He has been activated from the practice squad 3 times including a start against the Jets where he had an interception, 3 tackles and 2 passes broken up.

4) Raymond Calais RB

Calais is a smaller running back (5’ 8” 188 lbs) with great speed (4.42 sec 40 - 3rd fastest at the NFL combine) along with solid receiving skills and return ability. He is one of only 3 players at his weight or lighter to run 4.42 or better and put up 20 bench reps. He was considered a very high character player who was well respected by teammates. Calais was selected in the 7th round of the draft by the Buccaneers but waived when they acquired Leonard Fournette. He was quickly signed by the Rams and is the primary kick returner when he is active on game day.

5) Alex Taylor OT

Taylor is a developmental prospect with a sky high ceiling. Taylor is 6’ 8” 308 lbs and only has played football for a hand full of years, instead concentrating on basketball. He has insane length (36 1/8” arms) and huge hands (11 1/4”) with a monstrous wingspan of 88”. His movement skills are incredible for his size. For an example Mekhi Becton has an arm length of 35 5/8” a hand size of 10 3/4” and a wingspan of 83 1/4. Imagine having those two as bookend offensive tackles. Taylor has had some injury concerns that have delayed his development and he will also need a year of weight training. With proper training Taylor could develop over time and the Jets have time to do that.

6) James Robinson RB

James Robinson from Illinois State is the prototype RB for the NFL in 2020. He is not fast but he is 5’9” 220 lbs with great agility. He has a low center of gravity which makes him tough to tackle. He had the 3rd best 20 yard shuttle at the combine at 4.19 sec. In addition to flexibility and athleticism, this drill gives scouts an idea of how well a prospect can sink their hips, keep a low center of gravity, and move laterally. Robinson is a great receiver out of the backfield. He currently has 27 receptions on 32 targets for 225 yards and 2 TDs.

There were many other interesting players

Trystan Colon-Castillo C Missouri

Chris Orr ILB Wisconsin

Azur Kamara Edge Kansas

Hunter Bryant TE Washington

Essang Bassey CB Wake Forest

Patrick Taylor RB Memphis

J. R. Reed S Georgia

Kendall Coleman Edge Syracuse

Lavert Hill CB Michigan

Kalija Lipscomb WR Vandy

Thaddeus Moss TE LSU

Marquez Callaway WR Tennessee

The point is this was another whiff by Joe Douglas, as the Wilson trade has left the Jets with nothing to show for that pick. It is like the Jets never had the pick. If the Jets could have selected a young player to develop then at least there would be hope for that pick bearing some fruit over time.

As these misses pile up the leash gets shorter for the GM. Joe is not in jeopardy of being fired, but the more times he misses the less confidence the people around him have for Joe. As a leader of anything you get the best results when those around you have confidence in your ability to lead the endeavor. You have to show some efficacy in your decisions to give your team the faith in you. If your team has little trust in your abilities then that message will get around the NFL in short order. With that happening the superior free agents will not sign with your team. The players who do sign will be looking for a payday and not looking to become part of an ascending team.

When a team loses faith in their ability to compete it drastically affects the level of play. In order to succeed in the NFL all your players need to put in the work to make themselves better. Film study, extra work on the field and in the weight room, staying after practice to work on routes with a QB plus much more. Teams who lose faith go through the motions and continue to get worse not better.

When a team feels that things are heading in the right direction it all starts from the top. Positive moves are made, that works down to the team leaders, then to the rank and file of the team. Soon all are working hard to perform at the highest level.

Even recent trades that the Jets have made have only weakened the resolve of the players. Trades are good when they move players for draft capital but you need to get value for your players. Avery Williamson was a tradeable player but the Jets got just a 5th round pick for Williamson and a 7th round pick. Jordan Willis and a 7th round pick for a 6th round pick. Steve McLendon and a 7th to the Bucs for a 6th round pick.

You didn’t even pick up an extra pick, just basically moved up a little in the draft for two team leaders. Sure if you get value for a player it’s okay but these moves along with the release of Le’Veon Bell shows the team they basically got zip for 4 players. If I were to trade Williamson or McLendon then I would need to get a pick in return, not a switch of picks. I thought these were another in a line of almost amateur moves by Joe Douglas.

You have to know the value of your players to your own team and locker room. To move from a 7th to a 6th round pick for a team leader hurts team morale rather than helps it. I would rather keep a player than move him for next to nothing. If the Team (like the Bucs) needs another quality defensive lineman when one of their starters go down then they will need to pony up at least a pick. In this case I would have wanted a 5th round pick. The Bucs have signed everyone they can in pursuit of the Super Bowl which will be played in their home stadium. They eventually will give you the pick. If not I could live with that also.

We all want Joe Douglas to succeed but his recent moves have me questioning whether he has the ability to work as a GM. If I was a coach and Joe was my player I would have to tell him to pick up his level of play. The Jets are a laughing stock and his decision in the offseason to say that “I especially believe in Coach Gase, I believe he’s the right coach to lead this team. I feel really good about where we are with him and his leadership” makes me question his judgment and football acumen. I said the exact same thing back in July when he made those comments and Joe has done nothing since to change my mind.

Joe Douglas still has time to turn things around but the game is near halftime and the Jets are being shut out and down big. Joe will need to do something outstanding to get the team going forward. The team has slipped down the rabbit hole, you better start coming up soon. If you get too far down the rabbit hole you might never make it out.

That is what I think.

What do you think?