On April 29th, the New York Jets entered the NFL needing to set themselves up for success in the short term and long term. After hiring Robert Saleh as their head coach, and trading their quarterback Sam Darnold, Joe Douglas set up himself for his most critical draft yet as a general manager. With the selection of quarterback Zach Wilson, trading up, and their commitment toward building around Wilson, this draft class is going to define Douglas' tenure with the Jets. With that being said, here's my opinion about their draft class.
1. Drafting Zach Wilson
Three years after, drafting Sam Darnold to be their franchise quarterback, the Jets are once again hitting the reset button on the quarterback position. Personally, I would've liked to see them keep Darnold and trade down to draft another skill position, such as Kyle Pitts. While Zach Wilson had an amazing season at BYU throwing for 33 touchdowns and only three picks, it was in a season affected by COVID-19 and he played against an easy schedule. However, Douglas still deserves to be trusted by fans since he has been a part of two organizations that have won Super Bowls in the Ravens and Eagles. He was very intrigued by Wilson throughout the offseason and was all in on drafting him following his pro day. Wilson is a talented quarterback who should succeed in the NFL, but in order to make that happen, the Jets must surround him in an environment with the right players and coaches. Something they can't do again after Darnold's tenure.
2. Trading Up
Although the Jets already had an extra first pick, Douglas wanted to move up. He traded the 23rd pick along with both third round picks to the Vikings for the 14th spot, which was used on offensive guard Alijah Vera-Tucker. Trading up to get an offensive lineman who plays on the interior is a risky move despite the fact that this position was their biggest need on the line entering the draft. On the other hand, Jets fans can get used to seeing Vera-Tucker playing on the left side next to last year's standout rookie and pancake machine Mekhi Becton. In addition, Vera-Tucker's ability to thrive in a zone blocking scheme, will be essential for their run game, which is based off the 49ers' system. It has been awhile since the Jets had stability at the offensive line, but Becton and Vera-Tucker can hopefully be cornerstones of that unit in the future.
3. More Skill Positions
In the following rounds, the Jets arguably already gave Zach Wilson more weapons than they did during Darnold's entire tenure. With their second round pick, they selected wide receiver Elijha Moore. Even though cornerback was one of their needs, Moore is a skilled receiver who was expected to go into the first round. He could be a huge steal for the Jets in the years to come. Moore is also from Ole Miss, which has produced two other talented receivers in DK Metcalf and AJ Brown. As for Wilson, this selection gives him a promising receiving core of Moore, last year's rookie Denzil Mims, and free agent acquisition Corey Davis.
The Jets continued to add weapons for Wilson with the selection of running back Michael Carter in the fourth round. Despite sharing touches with Javonte Williams at UNC, Carter had a very productive college career, and could work his way up the team's depth chart at running back. It's very common nowadays for a team to improve their running game through finding a running back later in the draft, and the Jets could be one of those teams if Carter establishes himself as an every down back. He must also establish himself as the better "Michael Carter" since the Jets drafted a cornerback who happens to have the same name.
This draft by the Jets had many positives. They hopefully selected their franchise quarterback who Douglas really trusts, and have committed themselves toward building around Zach Wilson. My original hopes were for them to keep Darnold while trading down, and select a cornerback in the second or third round rather than the fifth round. However, Douglas has experience with Super Bowl winning teams, most notably with the Ravens whose front office is one of the best in football. Therefore he probably knows what he's doing and hopefully, this draft will finally change the team's fortunes.
This NBA season has seen a drastic change in the standings compared to last year. Teams who have missed the playoffs for years, but are back in the mix include the Knicks, Suns, and Hawks. The return of fans after last year's hiatus, also adds to the excitement of this postseason.
Eastern Conference: Western Conference:
#1 76ers 4 #1 Jazz 4
#8 Wizards 1 #8 Grizzlies 1
#1 76ers 4 #1 Jazz 4
#4 Knicks 2 #4 Clippers 3
#4 Knicks 4 #4 Clippers 4
#5 Hawks 1 #5 Mavericks 1
#1 76ers 2 #3 Bucks 4 #1 Jazz 4
#3 Bucks 4. #1 Jazz 2 #6 Lakers 2
#3 Bucks 4 #3 Nuggets 2
#6 Heat 2 #6 Blazers 4
#2 Nets 3 #6 Blazers 4
#3 Bucks 4 #7 Lakers 3
#2 Nets 4 #2 Suns 2
#7 Celtics 0 #7 Lakers 4
When the best running backs are mentioned, names such as Jim Brown, Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, and Barry Sanders are usually mentioned. With that being said, why isn't hall of famer LaDainian Tomlinson mentioned? Despite his incredible accomplishments, factors such as where he played and the fact that he never won a championship seem to have resulted in him being left out of the discussion for the greatest running backs.
Fresh off an amazing college career with TCU, Tomlinson was one of the top prospects and the San Diego Chargers viewed him as their savior in 2001. While winning didn't come right away, Tomlinson was immediately one of the league's best players. In his third season, he became the first running back to rush for 1,000 yards and catch 100 passes in a season. In the following year, the Chargers made the playoffs for the first time in a decade with Tomlinson scoring 17 touchdowns. In 2006. he rewrote the record books in one of the best seasons for a running back, rushing for a career high 1,815 yards while tallying 508 receiving yards. His most impressive accomplishment was breaking the record for total touchdowns in a season with an amazing 31. The Chargers made the playoffs with a 14-2 record, but were upset by the hated Patriots in a heartbreaking loss. Frustration for Tomlinson only grew when his beloved mentor, coach Marty Schottenheimer was fired along with the death of Tomlinson's own father. For the next two seasons, he was still one of the top running backs in the league, leading the league in rushing in 2007, but his workload slowly started to decrease. He also dealt with injuries during the playoffs, and the Chargers eventually released Tomlinson following the 2009 season, making him a free agent for the first time in his career.
It wouldn't take long however, for Tomlinson to find a new suitor. The New York Jets signed him to a two year contract. Tomlinson had a strong season rushing with 914 yards while totaling over 1,000 scrimmage yards. In the playoffs Tomlinson helped the Jets win a rematch of the AFC championship game over the Colts by rushing for two critical touchdowns. The next week, Tomlinson finally got revenge on the Patriots with a touchdown reception in another victory. After a quiet 2011 season, Tomlinson signed a one day contract to retire as a Charger.
As of now, Tomlinson is seventh on the rushing list with 13,684 yards. He is third all-time in 162 total touchdowns, and his 624 receptions ranks third among running backs. His all-around game made him stand out apart from other running backs. Besides running and receiving, he was known to buy his quarterbacks extra time to throw thanks to his ability to pick up blitzes. On top of that, Tomlinson was able to throw the ball. His seven career touchdown passes are the second most in NFL history for a non-quarterback.
So for all of his greatness on the field, why doesn't he currently get the recognition he deserves? One reason might be the increasing number of fans who never saw the Chargers play in San Diego. With the Chargers now in L.A., many fans in San Diego have abandoned the team. In addition San Diego was a really small market team on the west coast which kept Tomlinson from the spotlight. The Charger's failure to win a Super Bowl also played a factor the lack of recognition for Tomlinson's game. Although people might not realize it, Tomlinson deserves to be mentioned in the best of the best without debate.