By Ernie Palladino
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The other day we speculated about the Giants’ chances of taking a quarterback in one of the high rounds of the draft, which starts Thursday night.
While the NFL Network cameras roll on the machinations and discussions in that team’s war room — an unprecedented event in this buttoned-up franchise’s history — there will be another set of discussions going on westward in New Jersey. Unfortunately for the viewers, the Jets did not give consent to have all their draft secrets spread before heaven and the world.
But we do know this much. It’s not a longshot that John Idzik and his crew will be talking quarterback at some point.
Betting that the Giants will take a high-round quarterback is a big risk, despite the rationale this corner used to justify such a gambit. As for the Jets, perhaps not so much.
Idzik did call the Jets a “quarterback-obsessed” team, after all. And with a fading 34-year-old star in Michael Vick set to face young but inconsistent Geno Smith in training camp, one could easily wonder if the Jets might package a couple or three of their 12 picks to move up in the second round for a Tom Savage of Pittsburgh, Jimmy Garropolo of Eastern Illinois or Logan Thomas of Virginia — or even move up from No. 18 should Central Florida’s Blake Bortles begin a precipitous fall out of the top 10, as some draftniks predict.
As far as projections go, Bortles is an interesting sort of animal. Some soothsayers have him going No. 1 overall. Others who favor South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney in that spot have Bortles going to the Cardinals at No. 20. So would it be outlandish for Idzik to put a little package together to try to grab the pro-style thrower? They won’t be able to run the read-option with him, as they can with Smith or Vick, but he could certainly drop back and throw it.
In his pre-draft press conference, Idzik hinted that he’d welcome additional competition, especially if it came from a stud rookie. As with most teams, that quarterback pick would be more of a developmental one. Wear the baseball cap for a year and then compete in the second year for the starting job.
It’s a nice scenario to think about. But if the Jets do take a quarterback somewhere in the draft, it probably won’t be in the first round. That has to be devoted to filling the need at either cornerback or wide receiver. Marqise Lee, the fleet wide receiver out of USC, might be the pick right at 18. He will probably be there, too, as diminished stats and a knee injury that cost him three games dropped his draft stock. Once believed the class of the wide-receiver crop, he’s now considered a mid-to-late first rounder.
Or, they could go cornerback with Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert. With Antonio Cromartie gone, and Darrelle Revis a year removed from the roster, this could be a position that needs immediate, first-round attention. It doesn’t hurt that Gilbert is rated the most talented cornerback in the draft, and can contribute immediately as a kick returner and a starter.
Whether Idzik picks right or not won’t be evident right away. But if he makes a first-round choice like his tabbing last year of NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Sheldon Richardson, he’ll have two straight first-round knockouts.
That will be a nice pedigree to bring to the end-of-year evaluation meeting, no matter how the 2014 season goes.
And if he indeed mines a gem of a quarterback in the draft quarry, the Jets won’t be the worse for it.
Anything is possible for a general manager trying to fill so many holes, with so many picks at his disposal. The only sure thing is that they’ll discuss the various moves in private, way out of sight of the prying NFL Network cameras.
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