FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:
1. Ready to pounce? The Jets are having a solid offseason. Nothing spectacular, just a series of sound football moves, mapped out by a methodical general manager who has yet to engage in the trading frenzy of the new NFL. Could that change in the coming days?
Let's put it this way: If general manager Joe Douglas trades for disgruntled wide receiver Deebo Samuel and comes out of the draft with two plug-and-play defenders, it will be a trifecta for the ages.
Ideally, the Jets would love to land Samuel without having to surrender one of their first-round picks (presumably, No. 10), but that will be difficult. The feeling at One Jets Drive is the San Francisco 49ers would ask for the moon if they decide to make him available. The Jets have access to the moon -- i.e. a ton of draft capital.
"It’s a great position to be in," Douglas said. "Obviously, there’s been a lot of moves made to be in this position. Unfortunately, we’ve had to trade some really good players to be in this position, but it’s a great opportunity to be part of any opportunity that comes up and have those discussions. If the right situation presents itself, we can be in it."
We know the Jets were willing to part with two second-round picks and a third-rounder for wide receiver Tyreek Hill, which tells us how much they value a star WR1. We also know the Jets were prepared to pay Hill something comparable to the four-year, $120 million deal he received from the Miami Dolphins, so sticker shock shouldn't be an issue.
Yes, the Jets want Samuel, who has requested a trade. The 49ers are telling people they have no interest in trading him, sources said, but if we've learned anything in this wild offseason, it's that star players have a tendency to get their way. The Jets went through the same thing two years ago with safety Jamal Adams, who got shipped out when Douglas received an offer he couldn't refuse.
If the Jets can get Samuel and somehow retain the fourth and 10th picks, they would be in prime position to pick up two of the following players: DE Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon), DE Jermaine Johnson II (Florida State), CB Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner (Cincinnati), CB Derek Stingley Jr. (LSU) and S Kyle Hamilton (Notre Dame).
If they have to give up the 10th pick for Samuel, so be it. It still would be a win for the Jets, assuming they retain their two second-rounders (35 and 38) -- a sweet spot for more defense. They'd look to address their safety need with Jalen Pitre (Baylor), Daxton Hill (Michigan), Lewis Cine (Georgia) or Jaquan Brisker (Penn State). The Jets coached Pitre at the Senior Bowl.
2. Deebo by the numbers: This isn't a revelatory statement, but Samuel is a unique talent. Check out these factoids from 2021, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information:
He became the first player in history with at least 1,400 receiving yards and 300 rushing yards in the same season.
His eight rushing touchdowns were the most by any wide receiver in a season, and it was the first time since the 1970 merger that a receiver led his team in that category.
His YAC (yards after catch) per reception was 10.0, only the second time in the last 15 years that a qualified wideout hit that mark. The first to do it? It was Samuel in 2020 (12.0).
He averaged 13.1 yards per reception on targets at or behind the line of scrimmage. That was a better mark than 52 qualified wide receivers averaged on all targets last season.
3. Don't do it: Not everyone believes the Samuel trade is a no-brainer for the Jets. Here's ESPN draft analyst Jordan Reid, a guest on the "Flight Deck" podcast:
"Not only are you expending high-end draft capital, but you're probably going to have to give Deebo $25 million to $30 million a year. I just think the draft is a better route for that as far as where they are right now. I know you're taking a guy at 10 that you're hoping can eventually turn into Deebo Samuel, but you just have to trust your scouting department and trust your draft board to where you feel as if you can get that guy on a cheaper five-year deal as opposed to dishing out $25 million per year."
4. Receiver madness: If Samuel changes teams, three of the five All-Pro wide receivers from the last two years will have been traded. The others: Hill and Davante Adams.
5. Wanted: Outliers. If there's one thing we know about Douglas, it's that he likes to draft players who score highly in athletic testing.
Five of the nine Jets picks that were graded last year by NFL Next Gen Stats were ranked in the top 10 in "athleticism" at their respective positions. NGS computes a score that represents a prospect's measurables from the scouting combine and pro days relative to his position. (Offensive linemen aren't evaluated, so there's no grade for Alijah Vera-Tucker.) Brandin Echols (score: 99) and Jonathan Marshall (99) were No. 1 at cornerback and defensive tackle, respectively.
"Obviously, you’re looking for unusual people," Douglas said.
6. Beware: Walker is a fascinating prospect. So much talent, yet such little college production (only 9.5 career sacks). If he's drafted in the top 3, he'd have the fewest sacks of any top-3 DE/OLB since 2000 (when sacks became an official NCAA stat).
7. Dibs on Thibs? The Jets, who hosted Thibodeaux on a pre-draft visit, came away with the belief that one narrative surrounding him -- a me-first guy with a strong personality -- is overblown. Is he confident? Yes, but not in a bad way, in their opinion. With Thibodeaux, it comes down to a football decision. They like his game, but "there's probably not a true headliner like you’ve had in the past," assistant GM Rex Hogan said of the edge-rushing class, mentioning Chase Young and the Bosa brothers.
I don’t know about you, but if I’m picking a guy fourth, I’d want him to be a headliner.
8. Did you know? There are a record eight teams with multiple first-round picks. How do teams fare after making two picks in the first round?
It happened 71 times in the last 20 drafts. Of the 71, 41 teams improved their win total from the previous season, and 19 made the playoffs.
9. A vote for Sauce: It's always smart to pay attention to NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah. Not only does he provide excellent insight, but he knows how Douglas thinks. Years ago, they worked together as scouts for the Baltimore Ravens. On a national conference call, I asked Jeremiah about the Jets and the fourth pick.
"For me, personally, Sauce Gardner, if he’s there at No. 4, I’d turn in the card and get myself a real difference-maker," he said. "You come back at 10, if Jeremiah Johnson is there, that’s an opportunity for you. If not, I would hope he’d get a shot at one of those wideouts, with Drake London being my second option and Garrett Wilson being my first option.
"They’ve got to get difference-making players. They’ve got to get playmakers on this team. They’ve done a pretty solid job of building up kind of the foundation pieces, but you’ve got to get guys that teams fear. You’ve got to get some of those guys in this draft."
10. The last word: "I think everyone in here saw what Carl was doing in training camp and OTAs last year and how he was one of the best players on the field for us and was going to be an impact player for us last year. So I absolutely cannot wait ... to get Carl back on the field and having him roaring off the edge." -- Douglas on DE Carl Lawson, who missed last season with an Achilles' tear