2021 NFL Draft: Jets' Joe Douglas sees 'explosive' potential for Ole Miss WR Elijah Moore, North Carolina RB Michael Carter

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Garrett Stepien
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Elijah Moore runs Ole Miss Kentucky cropped
Elijah Moore runs Ole Miss Kentucky cropped

Two days after the 2021 NFL Draft ended, Jets GM Joe Douglas shared an optimistic outlook on his 10-member rookie class. Beyond a pair of first-round picks in BYU QB Zach Wilson (No. 2 overall) and USC OG Alijah Vera-Tucker (No. 14 overall), Douglas likes the "explosive" potential that Ole Miss WR Elijah Moore (second round, No. 34 overall) and North Carolina RB Michael Carter (fourth round, No. 107 overall) bring to Gang Green's offense.

"I mean, obviously, there's a prototype," Douglas said of NFL receivers during an interview Monday afternoon with The Michael Kay Show on ESPN New York. "And when you have a guy like Julio (Jones) and Calvin Johnson and AJ Green, those are the prototype builds. But ... the game's also changed and they come in all shapes and sizes. And you don't have to look very far, much further than Kansas City to see how they incorporate different wide receivers at different sizes.

"But this is the one thing that's the common denominator, is explosive playmaking ability. And so, I think that's why we're so excited about Elijah and Michael is that they bring that explosive element to the offense and special teams."

The 5-foot-8, 201-pounder Carter was a four-year starter at North Carolina, turning 596 touches (514 rushes, 82 receptions) into 4,060 yards from scrimmage (3,404 rushing, 656 receiving) and 28 touchdowns (22 rushing, six receiving) in 44 games from 2017-20. Douglas revealed that New York would have taken Carter earlier, before trading away a pair of third-round picks to the Minnesota Vikings and selecting Vera-Tucker at No. 14 overall.

"Mike's a special athlete," Douglas said. "His tape is as fun to watch as any tape you'll see in this draft. And his ability to make people miss, his explosive acceleration, stop-start ability, open-field run skills, balance-contact balance -- it's very unique. This was something, for us, we felt -- just like in a game, some things have to go your way or bounce your way.

"We really felt, in the draft, that the opportunity to get Elijah Moore at 34 and then to turn around and get Michael Carter at Pick 107 -- who we would've happily taken at Pick 66, if we would've retained that pick -- was a case of two things really going your way in the draft and on our board, in our opinion. So we couldn't be more excited to have Michael on this team."

Oct 3, 2020; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels running back Michael Carter (8) rushes upfield during the third quarter against the Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Richins-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 3, 2020; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels running back Michael Carter (8) rushes upfield during the third quarter against the Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Richins-USA TODAY Sports

As the Jets build around Wilson, this past weekend was a key piece. Not only did Gang Green fill needs, Douglas noted, but it also got its best-available targets.

"Unfortunately, when you're coming off a 2-14 season, there's a lot of needs -- and we feel really good about the guys, the players that we brought in and on unrestricted free agency," Douglas said. "And we feel really good, obviously, about these 10 guys that we brought in this past weekend.

"But really, the board really fell in a way so that our highest player also addressed a need. And so, we know we've got a lot of work to do to get to where we want to be. And we feel like this offseason was a really strong progression towards that. But we were fortunate. Like I said earlier, there's some things that really bounced our way this weekend."