Joe Douglas
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

The media has treated New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas like a scouting genius. What does his draft history have to say about that?

Kyle Newman

New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas has been treated as one of the best scouts in the NFL since the hire. The media point to his reputation around the league and his work with Ozzie Newsome as proof.

They also point to his draft success like Marshal Yanda with the Baltimore Ravens. The issue with that example is that he was just a scout with the Ravens; he didn’t run the draft.

Most of the time, they completely ignore his draft work as an executive. Sure, they point to his role in the Philadelphia Eagles winning the Super Bowl in 2018, but not much else. They avoid his actual scout work. Why? That’s actual evidence of his scouting ability.

Of course, Douglas has had to report to the general manager at each of his stops. Twenty-twenty will be the first time he has complete control of a draft room. It’s impossible to pinpoint Douglas’s draft ability by simply looking at his past draft classes as an executive.

However, it should give fans an idea of what kind of players Douglas likes and what his specialties are. It’ll give fans an idea of who Douglas is as a drafter, if nothing else.

2016 Chicago Bears

Joe Douglas was hired as the Chicago Bears Director of College Scouting in May 2015. He was brought in to use his scouting expertise to help turn around one of the worst teams in the NFL. So how did he do in his lone year in Chicago?

  • First Round: Leonard Floyd, Edge Rusher
  • Second Round: Cody Whitehair, Center
  • Third Round: Jonothan Bullard, Defensive Tackle
  • Fourth Round: Nick Kwiatkoski, Inside Linebacker
  • Fourth Round, Deon Bush, Safety
  • Fourth Round: Deiondre’ Hall, Safety
  • Fifth Round: Jordan Howard, Running Back
  • Sixth Round: DeAndre Houston-Carson, Cornerback
  • Seventh Round: Daniel Braveman, Wide Receiver

This was a good draft class for the Bears. They got two Pro-Bowl players in Whitehair and Howard. and drastically improved offense.

What this draft really shows fans is that Douglas’s reputation as a guy who focuses on the offensive and defensive line holds true, so far. He took an edge rusher and an offensive lineman in the first two rounds. The Jets would love to fill those holes in a single draft.

Floyd has struggled since his rookie year. He’s been a bust, without a doubt. So, that’s a mark against Douglas’s reputation, but he did target a need for the Bears at a premium position, something Mike Maccaganan never did in Round 1.

Overall, Douglas got two Pro-Bowlers and three other starters in this class. That’s a very good haul even if it didn’t produce a superstar.

2017 Philadelphia Eagles

Douglas joined the Eagles shortly after the 2016 Draft. He became Vice President of Player Personnel. A big promotion that made gave him even more power over the NFL Draft. After a fairly successful first draft, how did he do in Philly?

  • First Round: Derek Barnett, Edge
  • Second Round: Sidney Jones, CB
  • Third Round: Rasul Douglas, CB
  • Fourth Round: Mack Hollins, WR
  • Fourth Round: Donnel Pumphrey, RB
  • Fifth Round: Shelton Gibson, WR
  • Fifth Round: Nathan Gerry, S
  • Sixth Round: Elijah Qualls, DT

Again, fans can see that Douglas targets a defensive lineman at the top of the draft.

Some things he values can be seen across these two classes already. He likes drafting safeties, wide receivers, and running backs late. He likely views them as good gambles on Day 3, considering their upside. They can also usually help on special teams due to their athletic ability.

From a talent point of view, this draft was awful. Derek Barnett is a fine starting edge rusher, but he’s not a star or a Pro-Bowler.

The other picks in this class are all backups, special teams players or out of the league. Drafting only one starter and a lot of nothing isn’t great.

This is certainly a huge black mark against Douglas’s potential draft record.

2018 Eagles

The Eagles won the Super Bowl after Douglas’s first draft class. Coming off a Super Bowl win Douglas and the Eagles needed an infusion of young talent to stay relevant for the foreseeable future. Did he accomplish that goal?

  • Second Round: Dallas Goedert, Tight End
  • Fourth Round: Avonte Maddox, CB
  • Fourth Round: Josh Sweat, Edge
  • Sixth Round: Matt Pryor, Offensive Tackle
  • Seventh Round: Jordan Mailata, OT

This was a confusing draft class. The Eagles moved away from much of Douglas’s perceived patterns. They didn’t take a safety, wide receiver or running back late. He didn’t take an offensive or defensive lineman early despite a need.

Instead, he took a tight end on a team that already had Zach Ertz playing at an elite level.

This draft seemed more about gathering talent then addressing the issues the team had coming off a Super Bowl victory. A surefire strategy to lose that elite level.

Yet, this class is better than that. Goedert turned into a decent selection in his second year. The Eagles have turned into a two-tight end offense in the absence of strong wide receiver talent.

Avonte Maddox also carved out a role for himself as a versatile corner.  Josh Sweat is a decent situation pass rusher as well.

This is an example of Douglas’s “genius” as a scout coming into play. He clearly identified the best talent he could in this class and how it would fit into the team.

Even if the class didn’t make sense at the time it all worked out because they fill necessary roles. Yet, again Douglas didn’t come away with a star player, but he did get players who fit the Eagles system.

2019 Eagles

Fresh off a playoff appearance the Eagles needed to add young talent to a team that was now rapidly growing older, especially along the offensive line and at wide receiver.

  • Round One: Andre Dillard, OT
  • Round Two: Miles Sanders, RB
  • Round Two: JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR
  • Round Four: Shareef Miller, Edge Rusher
  • Round Five: Clayton Thorson, Quarterback

Finally, Joe Douglas drafts an offensive lineman early. For a guy the media touts as someone who preaches building through the offensive line, he certainly hasn’t lived up to it. In four draft classes, he’s only taken one offensive lineman in the first round and only two in the first two rounds.

Douglas also goes back to his usual pattern. He took a running back, a wide receiver and an edge rusher. He’s taken all three of those positions in three of his draft classes. Expect that trend to continue with the New York Jets. Mid-round skill position talent seems to be a favorite of Joe Douglas.

It’s hard to judge talent after a rookie year, but this class isn’t off to the most promising start.

Andre Dillard was awful his rookie year. He wasn’t good at either right tackle or left tackle. It was a complete disaster. That said, so was every other rookie offensive tackle in this class. They usually are.

Offensive tackles usually see a big boost in play in year two. Will Dillard see a big boost in play? Nobody knows the answer to that, but it’s hard to judge the selection until he plays that second season out.

Miles Sanders was phenomenal his rookie season. He finished top three in rookie of the year voting after putting up nearly 1,400 all-purpose yards. He looks to have a bright future ahead of him.

Arcega-Whiteside was flat out awful his rookie year. He looks like an absolutely huge bust. He played in all 16 games, including five starts, and still only put up 169 receiving yards. Wide Receivers don’t always burst onto the scene, but after a year like that Arcega-Whitside is likely fighting for a roster spring in training camp.

Shareef Miller only played in one game. Not what a fan wants to see.

So does he?

No, he doesn’t. Joe Douglas is not a magical drafter who is going to come in and fix the Jets. At least, that’s what his draft history says (at least the history of the draft classes he’s influenced).

However, Douglas does have his positives. He always manages to find at least one solid player in a draft class. Don’t expect many Maccagnan-esque draft classes.

Douglas is also good at identifying team needs and addressing them in the draft, even if he does it in a roundabout way as he did in 2018. The New York Jets got a good scout in Joe Douglas, just not the great one that the media is making him out to be.

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