The Jets have made a habit out of trading their former first-round picks.
Since General Manager Joe Douglas arrived after the 2019 draft, the club has traded 2015 first-round pick Leonard Williams, 2017 first-round pick Jamal Adams, and now 2018 first-round pick Sam Darnold. And while it happened just before Douglas’ tenure began, New York also sent 2016 first-round pick Darron Lee to the Chiefs.
Trading Williams, Adams, and Darnold has set up the Jets well, as they currently have 20 selections combined in the 2021 and 2022 drafts. It’s worth noting 2019 and 2020 first rounders Quinnen Williams and Mekhi Becton remain with the team and have displayed promise. But consistently dumping former first-round picks for draft capital isn’t an ideal way of doing business.
“When I walked in this building in June 2019, I never thought we’d be sitting here and talking about what you just said — trading Leonard, trading Jamal. I know Darron Lee was traded before i even took this job, and now Sam,” Douglas said on Tuesday, via SNY. “We want to be a great team that drafts, develops, and retains their players, not draft develop and trade. But like I said earlier, you try to take the information you have at hand and try to make the best decision that you can moving forward. And ultimately, these decisions were made.
“We were able to acquire assets to help us moving forward. We’ve only had the opportunity to turn the card in on one of those assets, when we took Ashtyn Davis last year in the third round. So like I said earlier, we have to make the most of these opportunities with these assets.”
Davis’ selection came from a third-round pick received from the Giants in exchange for Leonard Williams. Among the highlights, New York has extra first-round selections in each of the next two drafts from the Adams trade to Seattle. And now the club has an extra second-round pick coming in 2022 for sending Darnold to Carolina.
But Douglas is right — the Jets have to hit on the majority of those selections in order to turn the franchise into a consistent winner. And maybe then they’ll retain more of their top picks on long-term second contracts.