The Jets' draft history is so bad that Joe Douglas' honeymoon figures to be a short one. He can't possibly be instantly judged on his first draft class, but that's probably exactly what some skeptical fans are going to do.
They are hoping for success, or at least a first round that doesn't make them scream in agony and throw up their hands. They want a first-round pick they can be proud of, rally around, and feel confident that it was a good one. Image may not be everything when it comes to the long-term success of a prospect, but Douglas -- who holds the 11th overall pick on Thursday night -- is about to learn that first impressions matter, especially in New York.
So how can he make his first dive into the shark-infested waters of Jets draft history a good one -- or, at the very least, a safe one? Here's some advice on what he and the Jets need to do to make sure the first round is a success.
Don't trade up
There really is no need to do that in this draft, and no indication that Douglas would be interested in that anyway. But there are several teams ahead of him that want to trade down, and it could be tempting if he really falls in love with a certain tackle or receiver.
But it's just not worth it. There is no player they could move up to grab that they couldn't get similar value at the same position by staying put. There are four tackles generally grouped together and three receivers in a similar boat. None of them stand out so far above the others that trading up makes any sense for a team with so many holes.
Trade down if you can
Now this would make sense. The Jets do have eight picks, but they certainly could use more since almost every player on the roster has been inherited by Douglas. He needs to bring in as many of his players as possible. That's the only way to truly build the kind of team he wants to build.
Trading down would obviously help them add picks, and it might even be able to help them bridge the long gap they have between their first pick (11th) and second (48th). If Douglas can get a pick in between there by dropping down, why not do it? Yes, he could drop himself out of the top tier of tackles or receivers. But there's a pretty good second tier at both positions, too.
Stick to the offensive line-centered plan
It's not sexy or exciting, especially when a speedy receiver could be available to jumpstart their offense, but it is absolutely necessary. Nothing about Adam Gase's offense is going to work if they can't protect Sam Darnold and open holes for Le'Veon Bell.
So Douglas had the right idea during free agency when he loaded up on offensive linemen, but he's not done yet. Not only do the Jets not really have a starting right tackle (or left tackle, if they move George Fant to right), but they don't have a ton of depth. And they certainly don't have a lot of young depth -- good prospects they can develop.
So even though they may be looking at the fourth tackle on their board and possibly the first or second receiver, now is not the time to deviate from the plan. There are really good receivers that will be available when they pick at 48. Many scouts believe there could still be receivers with first-round grades sitting that far down in the second round. Yes, the offensive line class is good and deep too, but the drop-off from the top tier to the next group is more severe and will come earlier.
So keep an eye on those Big Four tackles and take one if there's still one available. It really doesn't matter which one, either. They should be happy with Iowa's Tristan Wirfs, Georgia's Andrew Thomas, Louisville's Mekhi Becton or Alabama's Jedrick Wills. And they shouldn't be afraid of the second tier, either -- like USC's Austin Jackson and Boise State's Ezra Cleveland -- especially if they trade down.
An offensive tackle should absolutely be their first-round pick: Don't be afraid of Mekhi Becton's issues
There are more than a few scouts and talent evaluators who believe the 6-7-, 364-pound Becton is the best tackle in this draft, or at least the one with the highest ceiling. They were amazed at how well he moved at the combine, especially given his massive size.
So why isn't he everyone's No. 1? Well, there was that reportedly flagged drug test at the combine, though that doesn't seem to be a huge issue for most. A bigger issue is a general concern about guys his size keeping their weight down and avoiding injuries. Basically, there's a fear he'll balloon up and wear down.
There's no indication the Jets are worried about any of that, nor should they be. Unless they discover some kind of active drug problem, they should shrug off the flagged test as a youthful mistake. And if Becton is the guy waiting for them, they shouldn't hesitate based on weight issues, either.
First, he managed to start 33 games the last three years at Louisville. And second, the Jets should trust their training staff and their strength and conditioning program. It's their job to get Becton into shape and keep him there.
And if they can, the rewards could be … well, huge.