NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The interminable wait is nearly over.
Later this week, the Jets, along with every other team in the NFL, will begin the process of stocking their roster with what they hope are the best and brightest of this year’s draft. General manager Mike Maccagnan met with the media Monday for the final time before the show begins Thursday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
And while he didn’t say much of anything that would give fans a hint of what he’s planning to do with the No. 3 overall pick, it’s clear he’s feeling the pressure to hit a home run.
The Jets have not made the playoffs since 2010 and are coming off back-to-back 5-11 seasons. Though they are currently in the second year of a massive rebuild/youth movement, they are missing the one thing every successful NFL team has — a franchise quarterback.
“You just want to get it right,” Maccagnan said. “What you really have to do, a lot of jobs are high-pressure jobs, but you just put that to the side. You sort of understand the task at hand. You try to be as objective as possible. Then, you try to go through your process.”
Maccagnan’s process includes analyzing the 182 players he has on his war room board. Thanks to the massive trade he made with the Indianapolis Colts that moved the Jets up from No. 6, they have just six picks in this draft. There’s not a person alive who doesn’t expect Maccagnan to take a quarterback in the first round.
Short of the stellar 1998 season from Vinny Testaverde and a few good years from Chad Pennington in the early 2000s, the Jets really haven’t had anything resembling a franchise quarterback since the days of Ken O’Brien back in the mid-to-late 1980s. And even with O’Brien, things were often hit or miss.
Really, the Jets are looking for their first true superstar at the position since Joe Namath basically 50 years ago.
“I know everybody seems to be locked in on that. I don’t know why,” Maccagnan said. “We actually may take a safety this year. I’m just joking. The quarterback is such an important position. There’s always going to be a focal point that this may be a position of interest for us, but we’ll see how it plays itself out.”
Most experts agree that this year’s draft may be the deepest at quarterback in some time. The Jets have been linked to all five of the top ones available — Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson. However, the most persistent reports suggest the Jets really want to get their hands on one of Darnold, Rosen or Mayfield.
Of course, who they ultimately get will largely depend on what the Cleveland Browns and Giants do, respectively, with the first two picks. Both are said to be considering drafting a quarterback, though some reports have said the Browns seem to like Allen more than most and the Giants could take top running back Saquon Barkley or trade out of the pick entirely.
Mayfield’s name has been linked to the Jets the most. The 2017 Heisman Trophy winner may be a bit short, listed at just a shade over 6 foot, but he has the arm strength, accuracy, mobility and, perhaps most importantly, the moxie to potentially thrive in New York. Maccagnan said regardless of the player he selects, he wants someone who will be around for a very long time.
“I think you do that any time you’re picking high in the draft, whether it’s two or three or heck, even at six,” Maccagnan said. “In your mind, you like to think at that pick in the draft in terms of opportunity cost, you’d like to have a guy you think could be a substantial player in your franchise going forward.”
Assuming the Jets don’t shock the world and go in another direction, the quarterback they do select will immediately find himself in a competition at training camp, as veterans Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater signed one-year contracts as free agents earlier this offseason.