FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:
1. Go O, Joe: By his own admission, general manager Joe Douglas failed to supply former quarterback Sam Darnold with enough help to prosper -- a fresh scar for the organization. Now he gets a mulligan with a second quarterback, presumably BYU's Zach Wilson, and it would be the definition of insanity if he lets it happen again.
"If you're trying to put yourself in a good situation, this whole draft would be about Zach Wilson, at least early on," said NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout who worked with Douglas at the Baltimore Ravens. "We're going to devote as many resources as we can to give him the opportunity that Sam didn't have -- which is to have some good people in front of him and a lot of options of where to go with the football."
Best-case scenario for the Jets in the 2021 NFL draft (April 29-May 1 in Cleveland, on ESPN and ESPN the App): Douglas lands a plug-and-play guard, a dual-threat running back and a home run hitter at wide receiver.
The Jets helped themselves in NFL free agency by signing Corey Davis and Keelan Cole at wide receiver, but there's room at the inn because Cole and Jamison Crowder will be free agents in 2022. If one of the Alabama receivers slips past the No. 12 pick, the Jets, picking 23rd, should use one of their 2022 second-rounders to trade up for DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle. Tight end also is a need, but the position thins out pretty quickly after Florida's Kyle Pitts. The offensive line requires a boost, especially the interior.
At the same time, Douglas can't get too Zach-centric with his decisions. It would make no sense to pass on a highly rated cornerback at 23, perhaps Northwestern's Greg Newsome II, for the sake of drafting an offensive lineman. Smart teams draft the "best player available" and use free agency to fill needs. In the Jets' case, if two players have similar grades, they should lean offense.
It's a delicate spot for Douglas. He wants to appease his defensive-minded coach, Robert Saleh, but he also must recognize the obvious: The Jets have stunk on offense for a long time. In total yards, they have ranked 26th, 28th, 29th, 32nd and 32nd over the past five seasons -- and you can't blame former coach Adam Gase for all of that.
"There's a balance you're trying to strike," Douglas said. "You're trying to build the best team you can possibly build -- offense, defense and special teams. It's also important to do everything we can to provide what we can to make a young quarterback successful."
Prediction: Douglas isn't going to make the same mistake twice. He will try to protect his career-defining investment.
2. Intangibles matter: One of the things teams wanted to learn about Wilson during the vetting process was his leadership ability. The hullabaloo about his captaincy (he was named a captain by the coaches, but not selected by teammates) sparked rumors, along with some whispers about his attitude.
This is what an AFC scout said about that: "Does he have arrogance? Yeah, maybe. There's some cockiness, but a lot of professional athletes have that." The scout noted Wilson led BYU to its most successful season in 25 years, suggesting it wouldn't have been possible if the team didn't have faith in its quarterback.
In talking to people about Wilson, the word that consistently came up was "competitive." Hey, there's nothing wrong with a little competitive arrogance.
There will be a ton of pressure on Wilson, probably more than Darnold faced in 2018. Unfortunately, Wilson won't have a seasoned pro such as Josh McCown to help with the transition.
3. Silly Philly: During Zoom calls, the Jets tried to put prospects in "high-stress situations," according to Douglas. The goal was to see how they processed information by getting them to spit out calls and checks on plays that were punched up on video. They tried to shake it up, keeping things light, but they apparently didn't use a page from the Philadelphia Eagles' playbook.
"I haven't seen any good rock, paper, scissors battles yet," Douglas cracked.
4. Together again: After last year's virtual draft, the Jets' brass will be back in their own draft room. Per league rules, they will have 15 individual tables in the room, socially distant. Everyone must wear a mask. Those that can't get in the room will be dialed into the room via Microsoft Teams.
5. High on Mosley: Douglas has made 11 player trades in 22 months, so don't be surprised if he pulls off another during the draft. There aren't many candidates on the roster, but the one to watch is middle linebacker C.J. Mosley, who hasn't played a complete game in two years because of injuries and an opt-out.
Saleh made it sound like they have no desire to trade Mosley, calling him a "tremendous leader and a tremendous football player" who can play in any scheme. He said he's "excited" to work with Mosley, hoping to get him back to being "the star that he's been." Disclaimer: 'Tis the season for posturing.
Mosley's burdensome contract, coupled with the addition of Jarrad Davis, has fueled the trade speculation. I'm curious to see what the Jets do if Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah slips to No. 23. He's fast and tenacious, an ideal fit in Saleh's 4-3 scheme. That's high for an off-ball linebacker, but it's worth noting Douglas was part of a Ravens scouting staff that drafted Mosley No. 17 overall in 2014. Owusu-Koramoah has the ability to play the weak-side position.
6. Riser, faller: It wouldn't be a shock if the Jets pick an edge rusher with the 23rd or 34th pick, but it would surprise me if it's Miami's Jaelan Phillips. Not only are there medical questions (three concussions, multiple wrist surgeries), but he has off-the-field questions that teams are sorting through. He doesn't sound like a fit, considering the emphasis on character. On the flip side, they're intrigued by Syracuse cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu, who could be a consideration in the second or third round.
7. No sophomore jinx allowed: For the Jets' sake, you hope the '21 draft class stays healthier than the '20 class. Tackle Mekhi Becton, wide receiver Denzel Mims, safety Ashtyn Davis and cornerback Bryce Hall, all of whom are being counted on to play big roles, missed a combined total of 23 games. The Jets' success in 2021 will be determined, in part, by this group's ability to make major strides.
8. Kid QBs: The idea of starting a rookie at quarterback isn't foreign to Saleh. In his three previous coaching stops, his organization never shied away from inexperienced signal-callers.
"I never really thought about that," Saleh said of the trend. "We've seen successes with Russell, and we've seen things go not so well in Jacksonville. One thing I can attest to: From a schematic standpoint, the scheme that [offensive coordinator Mike] LaFleur is bringing is the best scheme in the world, in my opinion."
Saleh's experiences, both good and bad, should serve him well because we know he will have a rookie in 2021.
10. So you're saying there's a chance? Since 2001, only nine teams have won seven or more games after winning two or fewer the season before, per ESPN Stats & Information. This is what the 2021 Jets, coming off a 2-14 record, are up against.