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By: Michael Nania
Joe Douglas is establishing an identity for the New York Jets
Jets general manager Joe Douglas just completed his fourth draft with the team. By now, he’s made it clear what he believes a New York Jets football player is supposed to look like. Douglas has established a distinct identity for the team.
Throughout his seven-pick 2023 draft class, Douglas consistently emphasized three specific traits, each of which he has already shown to prioritize in his previous drafts. These traits define the culture and identity Douglas envisions for a championship-caliber Jets roster.
Douglas developed a reputation for favoring top-tier athletes throughout his first three drafts. He doubled down on that reputation in 2023.
Five of the Jets’ seven draft picks participated in enough testing drills this offseason (either at the combine or their pro day) to be rated with a Relative Athletic Score (RAS), which is a 0-to-10 scale that evaluates a player’s overall athleticism relative to all other prospects at their position since 1987.
All five of those players scored a RAS above 9.00:
- EDGE Will McDonald: 9.66 (3rd among EDGE selected in 2023 draft)
- RB Israel Abanikanda: 9.63 (3rd among RB selected in 2023 draft)
- LB Zaire Barnes: 9.12 (7th among LB selected in 2023 draft)
- CB Jarrick Bernard-Converse: 9.78 (6th among CB selected in 2023 draft)
- TE Zack Kuntz: 10.00 (T-1st among TE all-time)
Joe Tippmann and Carter Warren did not test, but both players’ tape suggests they would have had a great chance of recording an elite RAS.
Douglas has constructed a Jets roster that is loaded with athletic specimens at just about every position.
Not only does Douglas value athleticism, but he places a premium on length, too. Football is a game of inches, and an extra sliver of length can be the difference between winning and losing a rep. Douglas recognizes this.
Will McDonald’s 34⅞” arms place him at the 90th percentile all-time among edge rushers. In college, McDonald proved he can use his length to finish plays at an elite level as he forced 10 fumbles and amassed 34 sacks.
Joe Tippmann brings unusual height to the center position. At 6’6″, only three percent of centers in combine history were taller. Tippmann’s 32¾” arms actually only place him at the 50th percentile for centers, but due to his height, he still has an 80th-percentile wingspan at 80⅜”.
Carter Warren looks the part of an NFL tackle on tape, largely because of his 35⅜” arms (88th percentile). Most importantly, there are signs that he knows how to maximize his length, as he shows good timing and accuracy on his punches to consistently make first contact and take control of the battle.
Really impressed with Carter Warren’s pass protection so far, he looks polished in his pass sets.
Big fan of this pick. When I watch him, he just looks the part of a solid NFL starting tackle pic.twitter.com/MgQPH8LW9D
— Michael Nania (@Michael_Nania) April 29, 2023
Length isn’t commonly mentioned as a key trait for running backs, but Israel Abanikanda’s 32″ arms place him at the 82nd percentile for the position. Abanikanda’s long arms could add to his upside as a pass-catcher and pass-blocker, which are two areas of his game where he has room for development.
Jarrick Bernard-Converse’s 32″ arms put him at the 70th percentile for cornerbacks, and Zack Kuntz’s 34″ arms put him at the 83rd percentile for tight ends. Zaire Barnes was the only exception in this class as his 32″ arms rank at the 39th percentile for linebackers.
All over the field, the Jets have players who are not only fast, explosive, and agile but lengthy, too. With excellent team-wide speed and tremendous team-wide length, the Jets hope to close ground in all situations faster than any other team in football.
The Jets picked seven players and there is not a single non-injury-related off-field concern attached to any of them. All seven players are regarded as high-character men and should fit seamlessly into a locker room that has championship aspirations.
Douglas continued building on his reputation for valuing team captains. Carter Warren and Zaire Barnes were team captains. Jarrick Bernard-Converse was also a game captain for multiple games in his career while Zack Kuntz was a team captain in high school.
While Joe Tippmann was not a team captain, his leadership on the Wisconsin offensive line has been lauded by the Badgers’ coaching staff, particularly regarding his ability to communicate protections.
Douglas began emphasizing high-character guys from the moment he entered the building, and it hasn’t been for naught. The Jets established a strong enough culture to lure in one of the most (if not the most) high-profile veteran acquisitions in recent NFL history. If Douglas had not emphasized character so strongly in his evaluations over the past few years, the Jets could have experienced off-field drama that may have turned Aaron Rodgers off to the idea of joining the franchise.
The Jets have not been a good football team on the field in recent years, but because of Douglas’ valuation of character, they have still been able to develop a positive reputation as an organization. This is an underrated aspect of long-term team-building in the NFL and Douglas deserves credit for emphasizing it.
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Originally posted on Jets X-Factor