Jets 2020 NFL Draft Report Card: High marks for Joe Douglas' first effort

Ralph Vacchiano
SNY

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Everyone has seen the YouTube video of Jets fans expressing their anger and experiencing various degrees of pain through the NFL Drafts over the years. It's a classic, and it always resurfaces like an old football injury at this time of the year.

But times, they are a-changing - or at least that's the way it seemed during the first draft with new general manager Joe Douglas in charge. He made what appeared to be great value picks. He made outstanding trades that immediately worked out in his favor.

Jets fans, understandably scarred and likely still cautious, should be smiling at what he did over the last three days.

Here's the report card on Douglas' first draft class for the Jets. It's one he should be happy to print out and pin on his fridge:

 

Louisville OT Mekhi Becton (First round, 11th overall)

Size does matter when it comes to offensive linemen, and the Jets got the biggest prize in this draft when they landed Louisville's 6-7, 364-pound Mekhi Becton, whom some scouts thought could turn out to be the best tackle in the entire draft. Yes, there are issues - the flagged drug test, his weight - but the risks are easily outweighed by the reward. And yes, the Jets could have drafted the best receiver in the draft at 11, but GM Douglas has been right to focus on the offensive line first. And the upside here is simply huge.

GRADE: A

Baylor WR Denzel Mims (Second round, 59th overall)

This pick would've gotten a good grade if Douglas had taken him at 48. The fact that he was able to trade down 11 spots and pick up an extra third-rounder (101st, which he eventually traded for three more picks) too? That makes this an absolute steal. The 6-3, 207-pounder was a borderline first-rounder, according to many scouts, due to his blazing, 4.38 speed. And now he's got a chip on his shoulder from his unexpected drop. The Jets needed a big receiver who could eventually be their No. 1. They couldn't have done much better than Mims, and the fact that they got an extra pick too? Absolutely brilliant.

GRADE: A+

Cal S Ashtyn Davis (Third round, 68th overall)

The Jets had much bigger needs at other positions (see: edge rusher and cornerback) and they probably could have used this "Leonard Williams pick" on one of those. Instead, they added depth to a position that was already a strength, which is a bit of a curious move. Then again, consider that Marcus Maye is always hurt and entering the last year of his contract, and the future of Jamal Adams is unsettled. Even if they're both there, Davis' flexibility (the 6-1, 202-pounder can play corner, too) gives DC Gregg Williams a big weapon to use in the defensive backfield. The position may have been a little strange, but the value was certainly there.

GRADE: B

Florida DE/LB Jabari Zuniga (Third round, 79th overall)

If the Jets are right about the 6-3, 264-pound Zuniga, the grade for this pick is going to look a lot better in a few years. Until then, they'll have to have their fingers crossed, because he's known for showing flashes of brilliance at times and disappearing at other times. Scouts love his size, his 4.6 speed and his athletic ability, but wonder why he didn't have more production on the field. Last year it had a lot to do with an ankle injury, but there were questions before that too. The Jets think they can develop him into the edge rusher they need. And he's motivated. Said Zuniga: "I definitely consider myself the steal of the draft."

GRADE: C+

Florida RB Lamical Perine (Fourth round, 120th overall)

The Jets are planning for life after Le'Veon Bell, which almost certainly will begin in 2021. The 5-11, 216-pounder didn't get the opportunity to put up huge numbers at college, but there's an upside given his skill set. He's powerful and good around the goal line (22 touchdowns in college). He's also a two-way threat who can catch passes out of the backfield. He ran a 4.62 in the 40 at the combine so his speed is good too. Next year, the hope will be that he can at least be a piece of a Jets backfield-by-committee - possibly as the lead runner, depending on how close to his ceiling he can come.

GRADE: B-

Florida International QB James Morgan (Fourth round, 125th overall)

There's a lot to like about this 6-4, 229-pounder with a canon for an arm. What scouts really like are his character and leadership abilities. They say he's exactly the type of person teams want as a quarterback. He needs some work, especially on his accuracy, and he's more of a pocket passer than a guy willing to throw on the run. But the tools are there. To like this pick, though, you have to accept that some teams just always want to have a young quarterback to develop on the roster, in part because you just never know when you'll need one. Douglas learned that with the Eagles. And if Sam Darnold ever gets hurt, maybe this will look like a stroke of genius. For now, though, it looks like they got a good player that they have to hope will never take a snap in their uniform. The fourth round is awfully high to take a player you hope you never use.

GRADE: C-

UNC-Charlotte OL Cameron Clark (Fourth round, 129th overall)

Douglas just wasn't kidding when he said he was building his team through the offensive line. He proved it in free agency, then again in the first round, and now he starts to add to the Jets' depth. And the value here was high. Clark is a powerful, tough, 6-4, 308-pounder who was a left tackle in college, but could end up as a guard in the pros. He'll do what Douglas loves - compete all over the line, wherever there's an opening. The Jets probably don't need him to be a starter this season, but he certainly could become a top reserve at virtually any position. And in the future, the Jets can take their time and figure out where he fits best.

GRADE: B

Virginia CB Bryce Hall (Fifth round, 158th overall)

Maybe the only reason the 6-1, 202-pound Hall was still available this late was because he lost six games in his senior year to a broken ankle. Otherwise, some scouts think he could've been a second-rounder. He was that good at Virginia, where he showed he had the speed, intelligence and instincts to be a three-year starter, and all that should translate to the pros. The Jets, of course, are desperate for corner help. Even their two top corners, Pierre Desir and Brian Poole, are on one-year contracts. But that's the only knock on this pick - that they should've addressed this position sooner. They are taking a big risk waiting this long and they are counting on Hall's ankle to be completely recovered. That's an unknown until he can get back on the field. But if he's healthy, he's a steal.

GRADE: B+

Texas A&M P Braden Mann (Sixth round, 191st overall)

Using a draft pick on a punter might be a questionable move, but at least Douglas got a good one. Mann was the best punter in college football the last few years. He's got a powerful leg and he's got great touch. He put 26 of his 57 punts last season inside the 20. When teams have a punter who can do that, he becomes a special teams weapon. That's important. Whether it's important enough for a draft pick is debatable, but Douglas understands how important special teams is, and there is a lot of value in what Mann is capable of doing.

GRADE: B-

OVERALL

Douglas' first draft as a GM got off to a good start in the first round, but it was Day 2 where he really started to look brilliant. Trading down 11 spots and still getting Mims was a fantastic move. But then dealing off the extra third-rounder he picked up for two fourth rounders and a future sixth-rounder? That was a steal. There were some risks - Zuniga is a project and Hall's health is a question - but there are big rewards with both those picks if Douglas is right. He even got great value with his Day 3 quarterback and punter, no matter what anyone thinks of using picks on those positions. Maybe he should've taken a cornerback sooner. But then he was able to deal his final sixth rounder to the Colts for CB Quincy Wilson, a former second-round pick who is still only 23 years old. No one can argue with value like that.

GRADE: A-

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