The New York Jets are facing quite the conundrum this year, as they are with each passing season. To draft a quarterback, or not to draft a quarterback? They’ve done so in each of the past four drafts, ranging from Geno Smith in 2013 to Christian Hackenberg this past year.
Will they continue the trend in 2017, holding the No. 6 pick in the draft? General manager Mike Maccagnan’s comments on Friday suggest the Jets are open to adding a rookie, it’s just unclear where they’ll take one. If they were smart, they’d wait until the later rounds, rather than taking a quarterback with the sixth overall pick.
In fact, the Jets would be crazy to draft one that high, and here’s why.
Bill StreicherBill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
New York has gaping holes across the roster
Cornerback, safety, linebacker, edge rusher, center, right tackle, wide receiver, tight end. Shall I go on? Those are all on the Jets’ ever-growing list of needs this offseason, none of which has been definitively filled this offseason.
Now, the Jets aren’t likely to take a linebacker, center or right tackle at No. 6, but the other positions are all well within reach at that spot. Marshon Lattimore can be Darrelle Revis’ replacement, O.J. Howard can be the dynamic tight end they desperately need, Jamal Adams or Malik Hooker can be Pro Bowl safeties for the next decade, and Mike Williams can fill the void left by Brandon Marshall.
All of those players would be smart picks at No. 6, and would fill much bigger needs than that of the quarterback position. The Jets aren’t in a spot to ignore their litany of holes and take a quarterback. There are simply too many other positions that need addressing, and almost all of them can be fixed with elite talents at the top of the draft.
They’re not making the playoffs this season
The Jets are in complete rebuild mode – more so than even the Browns or 49ers. After their recent veteran purge, New York’s roster might just be the worst in all of football. Just this offseason, the Jets lost starters at wideout, center, right and left tackle and cornerback, and have done little to replace them.
As a result, there’s almost no chance the Jets make the playoffs this season. Contrary to fans’ wishes, that’s OK. They’re better off organically tanking – yes, that’s a thing – and looking toward 2018. A rookie quarterback isn’t going to come in and solve all of New York’s issues, leading Jets to the playoffs the way Dak Prescott did for the Cowboys.
The Jets need to be patient and realize they’re a year (or two) away from competing.
NJ Advance Media for NJ.com viaNJ Advance Media for NJ.com
The 2018 class has the potential to be great
Things can change dramatically from one year to the next, so we can’t definitively say next year’s quarterback crop will be substantially better than this year’s. However, all indications point to the 2018 class of signal-callers being superior to 2017’s.
Sam Darnold is the guy generating a great deal of buzz from scouts, doing so at this year’s Combine. Josh Rosen has the arm talent to be a franchise quarterback, as do Josh Allen, Mason Rudolph and Luke Falk. It remains to be seen if those players will be in the first-round conversation this time next year, but Darnold and Rosen are likely to be.
With the Jets looking at another top-10 pick – potentially in the top-3 – there’s a good chance they’ll have a shot at taking one of those guys. Only time will tell if Darnold and Rosen can remain atop the class, but as it stands right now, they look like far better prospects than any of the quarterbacks this year.
Mark J. TerrillAP photo
There isn’t a surefire franchise QB in this draft
If the Jets do take a quarterback at six, which they shouldn’t, whom will it be? Deshaun Watson? Mitchell Trubisky? Those are the likeliest candidates, but is either one deserving of the sixth pick in the draft? There’s absolutely no consensus on that very pressing question.
While there’s never any guarantee a player will pan out the way a team hopes, the quarterback position is infinitely harder to gauge than any other spot. That’s because one quarterback plays at a time, and the future of a franchise hinges on that position.
The Jets whiffed on Dee Milliner a few years ago, but did it cripple the entire organization? No.
JaMarcus Russell was a colossal bust, but did he set the franchise back for years? He absolutely did.
Rather than spending their first pick on a quarterback, the Jets would be better off waiting until the later rounds to take a chance on a player like Nathan Peterman, Brad Kaaya, or the polarizing yet talented Chad Kelly – if they’re insistent on adding a rookie.
Don Juan MooreGetty Images
Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty need a chance
In each of the past two years, the Jets have spent a valuable draft pick on a quarterback. First it was Bryce Petty in the fourth round of the 2015 draft, then Christian Hackenberg in the second last year. Some would say a fourth-rounder isn’t a premium pick, but Jamison Crowder, Kwon Alexander, Shaq Mason and Stefon Diggs were all taken after Petty.
That being said, the Jets have to give Petty and Hackenberg a chance. It’s not like they were taken in the sixth and seventh rounds, where players hardly ever pan out. They were premium selections that could yield contributors at other positions.
To this date, only Petty has seen the field, albeit for a measly 133-pass sample size. Neither quarterback has been given a legitimate chance to start, seeing as Ryan Fitzpatrick was in the way the past two years. It’s far too early for the Jets to give up on their two young quarterbacks before seeing what they really are. If neither plays well in 2017, then you can move on. But how can you definitively give up on a second-round pick without giving him a single start?
If the Jets draft a guy at No. 6, that’s probably what would happen. It would all but spell the end of the Hackenberg “era” in New York before it even began.