FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — During the run-up to the NFL draft, New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas said the objective was to “surround our next quarterback with as much talent as possible.”
He wasn’t messing around.
After selecting BYU quarterback Zach Wilson with the second overall pick, the Jets added three more offensive players. The latest pick, North Carolina running back Michael Carter, came Saturday in the fourth round.
This is only the third time in the common draft era (since 1967) that the Jets have opened a draft with four consecutive selections on offense. It also happened in 1969, the year after their only Super Bowl season, and in 1983, when they chose quarterback Ken O’Brien in the first round.
The Wilson pick was expected for weeks, as the Jets needed a replacement for Sam Darnold, whom they traded to the Carolina Panthers on April 5. With a new defensive-minded head coach, Robert Saleh, there figured to be a balance between offense and defense.
After Wilson, the Jets traded up nine spots in the first round to take USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker with the 14th pick. In the second round, they chose Ole Miss wide receiver Elijah Moore No. 34 overall.
Wilson, Vera-Tucker and Moore were graded among the top 25 players on the Jets’ draft board, according to Douglas. They wanted Moore so badly that, in the latter stages of the first round, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur became anxious and excited.
“He was saying, ‘Holy cow! He’s slipping,'” Saleh said.
Moore, who caught 86 passes in eight games last season, said he can’t wait to start working with Wilson.
“Oh, man, he’s got a great arm,” Moore said. “[I’d better] get ready to catch a lot of touchdowns.”
The Jets, coming off one of the worst seasons in franchise history (2-14), needed offensive help in the worst way. Under former coach Adam Gase, they finished 32nd in total yards two years in a row and were the only team in the past 40 years to finish last in yards per play in back-to-back years.
Carter, who averaged 8.0 yards per carry last season for the Tar Heels, should provide a big-play dimension in the backfield.
“Explosive and fun,” he said in describing his running style.