Unicorn, a fictional creature often used to describe highly unusual, highly exciting people, such as athletes, can also be applied to objects as well as subjects.

Such as the 2024 NFL Draft. As NFL Network’s Rich Eisen said with the seventh round winding down toward the Jets’ selection of Alabama S Jaylen Key as Mr. Irrelevant, “This draft has been record-setting on so many fronts.”

We’ll leave it to the national writers and talking heads to dissect how record-setting the draft truly was in terms of attendance, quarterbacks taken and then not taken, TV ratings and the depth of positions like wideout and tackle. But the same wild and woolly adjectives could be used to describe the Jets’ draft in microcosm.

In general, GM Joe Douglas and HC Robert Saleh seemed happy with the seven selections that were made over the last three days and nights.

“We felt like we had a lot of fun over the weekend,” Douglas said. “We added very good players to this team, and our types of guys,” Douglas said. “The board kind of fell our way and we were able to trade back and get guys we wanted.”

And the way it unfolded, this Jets draft was a unicorn in franchise history. Let us count the ways.

Offensive First 5 Selections

One quality that jumped out about the Green & White’s draft class: It was quite offensive.

For sure, the first five selections answered questions and filled holes on offense, from first-round T Olu Fashanu to Round 3 WR Malachi Corley to RBs Braelon Allen in the fourth round and Isaiah Davis in Round 5 to the anticipated day three selection of a QB prospect, and a promising one at that in FSU’s Jordan Travis, also in Round 5.

When was the last time the Jets took offensive players in even their first four selections? Those have been few and far between. The first Douglas/Saleh draft in ’21 had four offensive picks topped by QB Zach Wilson. Before that, we have to go back to 1983, marqueed by QB Ken O’Brien.

And the last Jets draft to go 5-for-its-first-5 on offense? This weekend’s draft was the first.

No secret that the Jets offense needed care and feeding this offseason, but Douglas swore the offensive avalanche was unintentional: “I think honestly it just fell that way with the board.”

A Cavalcade of Trades

Technically, for only the second time in franchise history, the Jets conducted an entire draft without spending one pick that was originally theirs when the full draft order was first established. We say technically because the Jets did hold onto No. 257, their third compensatory pick of this draft, the final pick of 2024 and thus the pick that identifies “Mr. Irrelevant.” It wasn’t a pick they started the offseason with but in March the comps were handed out and 257 then went to the Jets.

The only draft unquestionably without an “own pick” by the Jets was 2007, the Darrelle Revis/David Harris four-pick draft conducted by GM Mike Tannenbaum. Other Jets drafts with one own pick were 2022 (fourth overall CB Sauce Gardner the only own pick) and 2009 (sixth-round G Matt Slauson the only own pick).

“I was answering more calls today than making calls,” the GM said. “Calls were made, offers were made, we took a look at the board. … We were fired up to be able to move back, pick up a premium pick in ’25 [a fourth-rounder for next year’s No. 3 from Detroit in the first trade the Jets and Lions made in 15 years]. There were some pretty cool opportunities that came about.”

Most Draft Picks Held

The reason the Jets had no own picks is because they kept making those trades. Every one of their first six selections were acquired through trade. Douglas set personal records with four day-three trades and six total in-draft trades, and that doesn’t count a seventh trade, sending John Franklin-Myers to Denver for a Round 6 pick in 2026!

As a result of the trades, the Jets held, at one time or another, for a week, a day or a minute, 22 different draft choices. Seven they used on players. Fifteen they either held originally and traded, or traded for and then traded away.

Only once before in the NFL Common Draft era beginning in 1968 did the Jets hold 22 different picks in one draft, and that happened a full half-century ago. In 1974, the draft lasted 17 rounds. The Jets used 16 of their own picks that year, with Carl Barzilauskas going sixth overall up top. They traded for five other picks, and traded away one pick in a six-body deal with New Orleans. (In the AFL Draft days, the team annually had single draft selections rise into the mid-20s.)

Bottom Line ’24

All of these items are interesting but not necessarily important in the NFL scheme of things. Same goes for other trivia, such as fourth-round Braelon Allen being the youngest drafted player this year and will be 20 years old throughout his Jets rookie season. Or fifth-round DB Qwan’tez Stiggers being draft-eligible after a year in the CFL. Or Malachi Corley’s YAC dimension being available for a short tradeup to the top of Round 3.

But the trivia isn’t as important as what the Jets set out to accomplish over the past three days.

As Saleh said about this offseason’s offensive facelift, “It’s a good group all the way across the board. A lot of great competition, a lot of great character, a lot of guys coming in to work who are intrinsically motivated. We’ll throw it out there and see how the cards shake out.”

“I feel like we had a plan,” Douglas said, speaking of the entire roster. “We tried to keep the main thing the main thing throughout the offseason. We feel we stuck to what we tried to do and tried to avoid distractions and not waver from our process. We’ve been able to do that.

“Look, were excited about the team. We’re excited to get this thing going.”