The New York Jets hold the 6th overall selection in this week’s NFL Draft and with so many needs to fill and a roster full of question marks, GM Mike Maccagnan can do just about anything and come away with a better team on Saturday night.
He’ll be more scientific than that, for sure. He vows to take the best available players regardless of position, and he’s done that in his first two drafts but a trade is never out of the realm of possibility. Maccagnan would probably have to get bowled over to trade out of the sixth slot but he’s playing it close to the vest.
“I’m not going to comment on any individual teams we may have spoken with, but there are always inquiries,” Maccagnan told reporters Monday. “Some teams just do their due diligence, just out of curiosity, some teams are more active. There’s always a bit of gamesmanship in it. I think teams are always playing poker a little bit, showing that they’re either too interested or not interested enough. … From our standpoint, we feel pretty good at 6 right now. We’ve done a lot of work on this draft and we’ll see how this thing plays out the next few days.”
Trading down is not the worst thing in the world. As I have written all offseason, the Jets need numbers. They need young, able, healthy bodies and where better can you find them than at the NFL Draft? Maccagnan could be following that train of thought, although he hasn’t made any moves as of yet.
“If I could get 20 picks somehow in the draft, they may all be sixth- and seventh-rounders, but maybe I’ll see how that works out. … I’m joking. … A sweet number? As many as I can get that makes sense to acquire them. … I joked around with another GM the other day who has a lot of draft picks. I said I have pick envy. In a complimentary way.”
The Jets will likely need some of their draft picks to come in and hit the ground running. Maccagnan does not want to tip his hand about which players he feels are more field-ready than others.
“You don’t want to say something that some other team may perceive, ‘Hey, this is what they’re going to do, they’re going to take ready-made players.’” he said. “When you analyze players, you try to do two things. You’re projecting the potential of what the player can be, but you’re also analyzing the risk of what may cause him to fail. So in a perfect world you’d like every player to come in, play right away, be a great player, and fulfill that potential. Sometimes that potential takes a little while to get out of him, sometimes it comes out quick. But we don’t feel any different pressure.”
As a drafting of sorts myself, I don’t advise the Jets to take a QB in this draft. At least one that they plan on playing immediately. Their offense isn’t ready to support a young QB. Perhaps that is why last year’s second round pick, Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg, was given no snaps in 2016 even though the Jets were playing meaningless games down the stretch. The plan this year is likely to have head coach Todd Bowles have recently signed veteran Josh McCown start the season and take the abuse and let Bryce Petty and Hackenberg get first dibs on the crumbs.
“We’re going to make every position as competitive as possible,” Maccagnan said this week. “So whoever goes out there and Todd thinks is the best guy to play and start, that’s his determination. But when we look at quarterbacks, we look at players in terms of their ability, but also from a character and tangible standpoint.”
With Petty coming off surgery on his non-throwing shoulder, that could mean a longer look at Hackenberg, Bowles intimated that Hackenberg would be given an opportunity to win the job.
“He’s got to be excited because he’s got a chance to compete for the starting job right now, which is what he wanted to do in the first place,” Bowles recently said of Hackenberg. “There won’t be any redshirting this year. He’ll have a chance to go out, prove himself and play.”
So, do the Jets select a QB to add to this mix or go with what they have until they prop up the rest of their roster? That’s a decision Maccagnan will make in the next 72 hours or so,