2022 Pre-Draft Press Conference, 4.21

[please click photo for link to the video]

Opening Statements:

Joe Douglas: Welcome, it’s good to see everybody. First, I’d like to say so far, we’ve had a really, really positive offseason. I want to thank the coaches and the scouting staff, personnel staff, a lot of hours and a lot of miles have gone into this offseason, really starting in Mobile. And we’ve had great meetings throughout the offseason, free agent process. We just had tremendous meetings with our coaching staff last week up in the draft room, great collaboration, great communication, great transparency. The only other thing I’d like to say before I turn it over to Rex (Hogan) is this has been a great offseason in terms of, this is really our first offseason since we’ve both been here that we’ve been able to actually bring in players to the building prior to the draft and spend time with them and go through the pre-draft process with the players. It has been a great experience just sitting down with these guys on 30 visits, just spending as much time with these guys face-to-face as possible, including the Senior Bowl.


Rex Hogan: Along those lines, with the Senior Bowl, it was a great way for us to lead off the offseason with our coaching staff and having the opportunity to coach in the game and for our guys to get a little behind the scenes in terms of daily meetings and interactions and even the eating and having meals with the players, just getting more involvement with them, getting to know them more on a daily basis. It was a great opportunity for us. I know myself and Joe (Douglas), neither one of us had ever been involved in the Senior Bowl with an organization in a coaching capacity, so definitely a unique opportunity. It was really well run by the Senior Bowl staff.


Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Joe, I think probably the one that’s on everybody’s mind is kind of what happened yesterday with the news breaking that Deebo (Samuel) has asked for a trade. Have you guys made a call to San Francisco, is that a market that you’re involved in?

JD: Really no specifics, can’t get into specifics when it comes to a player that’s not on our roster. I’ll just say that, since coming here, I’ve made it known my job is to get the team better and we’re going to do that via any avenue that we can.


Rich Cimini, ESPN: Obviously, a few weeks ago, you made a run at Tyreek Hill. Is it fair to say that the veteran receiver market is something you’re interested in?

JD: Again, at the opportunity, I know we talked about it down in Florida, we missed you (Cimini) down there by the way, but if the right opportunity presents itself, we are going to be aggressive.


DJ Bien-Aime, New York Daily News: With the Tyreek Hill trade, you offered two second round picks. Would you guys be willing to possibly package one of the first-round picks to possibly acquire a veteran receiver?

JD: Again, I’m not going to get into any specifics or hypotheticals. If the right opportunity presents itself to make this roster better, we’re going to attack it and be aggressive.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Joe, what is like right now in terms of conversations with other teams, not just specifically about trades for veterans, but also about next Thursday and what teams are willing to do, move up move back? What are those conversations like right now?

JD: Those conversations are just starting to heat up. I think for the last couple weeks, teams have been in their process, whether it’s bringing players in for 30 visits, meeting with their coaching staffs, preparing for the draft with their scouting staff and coaching staff. So, I think from now until the start of the draft, those conversations are really going to heat up with other general managers.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: How much do you enjoy being in this position? You have placed yourself that you can get involved in any conversation. 

JD: It’s a great position to be in. 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 and if the right situation presents itself, we can be in it.


Rich Cimini, ESPN: Since we were talking about receivers, I have a question for Rex. Can you just talk about the receivers in this draft, at the top of the group and, specifically, how much does it factor in when a guy like Drake London doesn’t run a 40, you don’t have that information, how does it affect your evaluation?

RH: I’m going to avoid specific players, Rich, but you take into consideration with each one of the guys on an individual basis on whether or not, how they’ve worked out or not. Our analytics guys do a great job of making projections on what they do from the models they’ve built out and what our scouts do in terms of, with their own eyes and with our own eyes what we see on tape. In terms of a guy like that, you just make the assessment based off what you’ve seen off tape and that projection. Overall, the receiver group as a whole, there’s a lot of parity at the top of the draft and throughout the draft.


DJ Bien-Aime, New York Daily News: You said there’s a lot of parity, how much does it matter to diversify the receiver room that you have right now to complement Elijah Moore, Corey Davis and Braxton Berrios? If you guys were to go and draft a receiver. 

JD: Look, I’d say we feel, and we’ve talked about it in Florida, we feel very fortunate to have the receivers we have in that room. Corey and Elijah were on pace for really good seasons before injury and we’re all excited to ad Braxton back and he played so well down the stretch, Pro Bowl-caliber returner. And also, some young guys that we’re excited about, some guys that have come back ready to roll for OTAs. So, there’s going to be great competition. Like any other position, if there’s opportunity to add quality players, quality depth, we’re going to do it.


Connor Hughes, The Athletic: You kind said, about how this is the first full offseason where you guys have been able to bring people in, how much has that affected your guy’s evaluation of these kids? Do you feel like you’re more comfortable now because of the fact you’ve had that extra access to them by being able to bring them in?

RH: It’s just another step of the process with it, Connor. The face-to-face interaction, you get a lot better feel for who they are in terms of the personality, the overall character. So, it is, it’s good. It’s beneficial to us, you get to feel their energy as you interact with them and see how they interact within the building for the guys you bring in on a 30 visit. It’s been great to be able to take that next step from the process of the last couple of years.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Joe, how do you feel about your cornerback group right now?

JD: First of all, I’ve said it before, we were such a young group last year. Our secondary coaches and defensive coaches did such a great job developing the young players we had. Coach (Jeff) Ulbrich, TO (Tony Oden), Marquand (Manuel), Ricky (Manning Jr), they did a phenomenal job with, frankly, a bunch of first- and second-year players, and quite a few of those guys played good football. Adding a player like D.J. Reed who brings intensity, his love of the game, his passion, it just permeates, you see that. It doesn’t take you one, two plays to see that passion jump out on tape. Adding that level of passion, commitment, competition to the group is only going to add fuel to the fire in that room.


Rich Cimini, ESPN: Joe, as a GM preparing for the draft, how do you balance wanting to satisfy the wants and needs of your coaching staff with staying true to the scouting and grade process?

I think that’s what is so cool about our process, Rich, is that we get together, everyone checks their ego at the door when they get in these draft meetings and everyone has their own opinion and everyone, there’s some good dialogue, good discussions, good back-and-forth. I think the art to it is, you’re trying to get the players that everyone is excited about, the coaches and the scouts, everyone is excited about these players. Quite a few guys, there was some agreement on and there were some other guys you’re having discussions, you’re trying to see it from their point of view, they’re trying to see it from our point of view. That’s what really makes this process special, but at the end of the day, we’re trying to get guys that we’re all excited about being Jets.


Connor Hughes, The Athletic: A couple years ago, you guys had a player in Jamal (Adams) who went the route of vocally saying he wanted to leave, and he went different avenues to do that, whether on social media, things like that. Generally, when you do have a player that is that vocal about wanting to go, as ended up having here, that player ends up getting traded. Is there a way to rectifying those relationships when a player has kind of said, “I want to get out?” Or, is it kind of like when he says that it’s the beginning of the end? In your opinion and history of the league.

JD: I think it takes two to tango. Without knowing the exact specifics of all those situations, there’s going to be a difference of opinions from certain players, certain teams, but I know from our perspective in that specific situation, we tried to do everyone we could to mend the fence there. Ultimately, each situation is different, but from a team’s perspective, you want to do everything you can to help the relationship.


Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Joe, when you came in, obviously it was kind of an odd, midstream period, but now you’re a few years in, you’ve had a couple of full drafts and obviously you’ve got a great opportunity here. How close do you feel like you are? You got your quarterback last year, now you have two super high draft picks now. Obviously, the fans are looking for results and you haven’t had them yet. How long does this string along, so to speak, where you’re just kind of building? Where you do see this in terms of building the program?

JD: I think when you break it down to keeping the main things the main things, it’s going to be about developing and helping our young quarterback. Outside of that, it’s about adding as many difference makers as you can to the roster and making sure that they fit within the culture and the scheme that we’re trying to provide. And then, probably the third and most important thing, is keeping those guys healthy, keeping them on the field as long as we can.


(follow up) Just in terms of your scheme, you’re running the show here so to speak with everyone here around you, how important is it to see some results this year? Not just development, fans want to see wins obviously.

JD: This was a question that was asked in Florida. We expect to be playing in meaningful games in December and in tighter games. We feel like we’re a better team now than we were at the end of last season and we’re going to get better here in a few days. I know Coach is excited, all these players that are here, starting on Monday, they were excited to go out and compete. Look, we’re expecting to get better.


Ralph Vacchiano, SNY: Along those lines, a lot of what you’ve done in the first couple of years has been about getting assets for the future, extra first round picks or whatever down the line. Are you more now about now? Are you less inclined to make a trade down if it gets you future assets because you want to get those impact players now?

JD: I don’t think you ever have the luxury of, as a general manager, of thinking just now. I think you always have to have an eye on the future and the horizon. In one respect, you’re trying to put the best available team that you can on the field for 2022, but you have to also be thinking about ’23 and ’24.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: What do you expect, not specifically, but what do you expect to be getting, both you guys, for your team at number four? And how difficult of a decision, this time last year I think everyone knew where you were going at two, but there could be a lot of guys that can help you, so what do you expect at four?

JD: I think we’re expecting to follow our board and take the best player available. We’re going to continue our meetings with coaches and scouts. I think you go into any draft, whether you’re picking four, 10, 26, and you say we have to have four players we’re excited about picking, we have to have 10 players we’re excited about picking. I can tell you we have 10 players on our board that we’d be very excited to add to the team.


Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: How difficult is that dynamic, when you know you have certain needs and you always talk about the best player available at four for starters, what’s that pull like when you know you need a certain position but maybe there’s a guy that’s a better player on your board. Can you just speak to the dynamic of that and what goes into that decision making?

RH: You go through the process of what you address, both from a vertical standpoint and horizontal standpoint on your board and by position. Vertically, how high they’re ranked and then horizontally, how you compare them within that same level to each other. And then you just ultimately, between ourselves and the coaching staff, we decide who’s going to be the biggest difference maker for us and who is the best available at that point in accordance with the needs of the team.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Joe, when you look at the first four picks in the first two rounds, do you think you have to come out of this with four day-one starters?

JD: The expectation are those four players are going to be impact players for us. You’re expecting those players in the first two rounds to be starters for you. So, that’s our viewpoint going into any draft. In a perfect world, those first, second, third round picks are starters for you. Again, we know the odds don’t always go that way, but that’s what you’re looking to do.


Connor Hughes, The Athletic: This is for Rex and Joe. I know every GM and you guys do this, go on and you kind of put on your own mock drafts to kind of figure out what’s going on, especially in the top-five. How much more complicated has that been this year because of the fact there isn’t a bona fide number one or number two pick quarterback? Or do you guys have a pretty good grasp of what’s going to happen with those first few selections?

JD: I think you hit a good point. I feel like this year more than any, there’s probably going to be a difference of opinion of how the top-10 are sorted, probably different teams are going to have a different order at each position. That being said, it’s just important for us to all be on the same page and who are our top four players, who are our top 10 players, who are our top 38 players and focus on that. If you worry too much about what other teams are going to do, I don’t think that’s a productive thing.


Kim Jones, WFAN: Joe, when you look at improving the defense, how much are you factoring in a healthy Carl Lawson:

JD: Absolutely factoring in a healthy Carl Lawson. 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, I think I can speak for everybody on this one, can’t wait to get Carl back on the field and having him roaring off the edge.


Justin Walters, PIX: In the past, you’ve mentioned one of the best ways to get a $30 million receiver off the field is hitting the quarterback early and often. With that approach, how much of a priority is it to walk away from this draft with a top-flight pass rusher?

JD: Like I said, you’re using my own words from Florida, and especially in Coach Saleh’s defense, o- and d-line are going to be important. From the d-line perspective, this is a front that is an attack front, really getting off the ball, disrupting the offense, disrupting the quarterback, disrupting the pocket is a huge thing for our scheme.


Andy Vasquez, The Record: Joe, you talked about helping your young quarterback. Just where do you think the offensive line is right now and how important is that to helping him and how much are you looking to get better next week in that area?

JD: The offensive line is always going to be important. I feel like the o-line, d-line has always been our focus and will remain our focus, but do feel this unit is vastly improved, especially from several years ago. Just with the additions we’ve made with a Pro Bowl-caliber player in Laken Tomlinson, we feel like we have one of, if not the best guard combinations in the league moving forward. And then on top of it, George (Fant) and Mekhi (Becton) and the depth we have at tackle, Connor (McGovern) is coming back. He just had a baby girl, so congratulations to Conor on that. I feel good about our offensive line.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Rex, can you tell us what you think of the depth of the edge rushers in this class?

RH: It’s a strong class. From the high end all the way through the mid rounds, I think. There’s probably not a true headliner like previous you’ve had in the past, the Bosa’s (Joey and Nick), the Chase Young’s and, like Joe talked about, you poll each one of the 32 teams, they’ll probably have a difference of opinion on who the top edge rusher is. Overall, it’s a strong group though, throughout the draft.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Joe, how do you handle a player whose production is one thing, and maybe when you guys first meet November, December, somewhere along the pre-draft process wows the coaching staff and does impressive things at the combine, how do you kind of handle that type of player?

JD: Those are important conversations because I feel just being a scout, it’s important, it’s important to see that production. When you’re on the road as a scout, you want to actually see the player do it, but there also has to be a vision of what the player’s fit is within the scheme. I think you’ve seen at different positions in this draft specifically, guys have moved to different schemes, guys have moved to different programs, and they’ve been able to flourish in the different schemes. There is a bit of projection to see, ‘Ok, maybe this players production is this in one scheme, but the projections going to be different in our scheme.’ So, those are conversations that have to go on between the scouts and the coaches, and that’s part of the back-and-forth I was talking about earlier and those conversations are extremely productive.


Connor Hughes, The Athletic: How much are you guys, when you’re going into this one, specifically at four and then also at 10, I guess more specifically four, but best player available compared to best player available at a position of need? Because they could be two different things when you’re sitting there that early in the draft.

JD: I think you get in trouble if you’re breaking it up by position in need. I think you have to take best player available. Ozzie (Newsome) used to always having a saying, “A luxury today can be a necessity tomorrow.” If you get away from your process, if you get away from your board, I think that’s when you can get into a real jam.


Dan Leberfeld, Jets Confidential: Two offensive line questions. First off, is Mekhi Becton here? Is he participating?

JD: Mekhi is not here. Mekhi is back in Dallas.


(follow up) Why is he not participating?

JD: These are voluntary. Just in terms of Mekhi, we’ve had great dialogue and discussions back and forth with his medical team back in Dallas. We’re on top of everything with him right now. Again, these are voluntary sessions with the team.


Dan Leberfeld, Jets Confidential: As far as guys at positions, Laken Tomlinson was signed, I think the assumption was he was going to play right guard because your rookie left guard had a good year. What went into that decision as far as moving those guys around? And if Mekhi is going to move to right tackle, does that need to be done sooner rather than later so he can get comfortable over there?

JD: I think those are good questions, I would say those are questions, when it comes to depth chart and where guys are playing, those questions are better suited for Coach Saleh.


(follow up) But can you answer, Laken, when Laken signed, did you know? Because obviously that’s a discussion you have with the player and his agent. Did you know he was moving, he was going to stay? 

JD: Those were discussions that we had. Ultimately, we made the decision, Coach Saleh made the decision that we felt was best for the offense moving forward.


DJ Bien-Aime, New York Daily News: To kind of follow up on Connor’s question, obviously there’s been some really good offensive lineman at the top of the draft. You’ve already invested lot into the offensive line, when is too much investment too much? You used basically two first round picks, spend a lot of money on the offensive line, when is too much investment basically too much?

JD: That’s a valid question. I think when you’re building a team, balance is important. You don’t want to invest too much on one side of the ball, too much on one position. But again, at the same time, you have to keep the main thing the main thing. Coach and I, I think everyone here has been pretty consistent about the importance of the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. We’re also going to keep the main thing the main thing.


Rich Cimini, ESPN: It’s kind of a technical question. Joe, a lot of the websites, these analytic sites, say you trend towards players who test like the highest percentile in the athletic testing and so forth, like Next Gen Stats and so forth. Is that, how high on your list of prerequisites is that? Is that like a mandate, like guys have to be scoring really high in testing?

JD: I don’t think there’s a mandate. I think you try to start with the base level of, ‘Is this guy our kind of person, is this guy our kind of competitor, is this a guy that loves football, hates losing?’ Obviously, you’re looking for unusual people, you want to add some freaks to the roster whenever you can. I don’t know if that’s just specific to us. That’s probably specific to every team, you’re looking for those unusual traits that can help your team.