Joe Douglas isn’t copping to Jets’ Zach Wilson plan for NFL Draft

With a week to go until the draft, Jets general manager Joe Douglas still is not revealing who he plans on selecting No. 2 overall Thursday.

The entire world seems to believe he is taking BYU quarterback Zach Wilson. But Douglas was not ready to end the suspense just yet.

“I really don’t want to get into any individual assessments of any prospect right now,” Douglas said Thursday on a Zoom call with reporters when asked specifically about Wilson. “I feel like we’ll have plenty of time to discuss any prospect we decide to choose after we chose him. We don’t want to give everyone answers to our test.”

Those answers will be revealed soon enough. It would be an all-time shocker if the Jets took anyone but Wilson at the top of the draft. That has been the expectation for a month now.

General Manager Joe Douglas of the New York Jets in action.
Jets GM Joe Douglas won’t admit the team’s plan for the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
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Douglas and coach Robert Saleh met with the media Thursday, and though they were not going to give up any details of their draft plan, they did answer some questions about what Wilson (or another player) will face after they are drafted here.

“All this pick has to do is be himself,” Douglas said. “I think that’s going to be the most important thing. We’re going to do everything we can to not only help pick 2, but pick 86, pick 228 — every pick — be as successful as they can be.”

Saleh believes the offensive system the Jets will employ under new coordinator Mike LaFleur will help whoever the quarterback is. The system will be a version of what Kyle Shanahan ran with San Francisco, where LaFleur and Saleh last coached.

“The scheme that LaFleur is bringing is the best scheme in the world from an offensive standpoint, in my opinion,” Saleh said.

Saleh sounded excited about the work Douglas has already done on the roster this offseason. The team added a few high-profile free agents in March, most notably defensive end Carl Lawson and wide receiver Corey Davis. Saleh stressed the team signed not only good football players but good people, as he tries to build a winning culture here.

“You can always beat the narrative of ‘same old Jets,’ but it’s not,” Saleh said. “What Joe’s already been able to establish with the foundation and bringing in certain players and guys who love ball, and when you look at that free-agency class that we were able to bring in this year, you can talk about their talent levels all you want — you can plus-minus, whatever you want — but the one thing you can take away from the men that were brought into this building is their absolute love for football.”

Zach Wilson runs though drills at BYU's 2021 pro day.
Zach Wilson has long been expected to be the Jets pick at No. 2 overall.

The Jets have 10 picks in this year’s draft. With the expectation that the first pick will be Wilson, some have suggested the Jets must then focus on supporting him. In other words, pick an offensive lineman over a linebacker because that will directly help the quarterback. The Jets have received heavy criticism for how they did not build around former quarterback Sam Darnold, who was traded to the Panthers this month.

“There is a balance you’re trying to strike,” Douglas said. “You’re trying to build the best team that you can possibly build. That’s offense, defense and special teams. There also is an importance to really doing everything we can to provide what we can to make a young quarterback successful. There is some balancing that goes into that.” 

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