Mike Maccagnan is two weeks away from making the most important choice of his tenure as Jets general manager.
On April 26, he will make the selection at No. 3 in this year’s draft that can change the course of the franchise.
No pressure, Mike.
But should Jets fans feel good about Maccagnan being the man in the big chair making that decision?
Should his selection of quarterbacks Bryce Petty in 2015 or Christian Hackenberg in 2016 give fans pause that Maccagnan will stumble when it comes to selecting the right quarterback to end the Jets’ four-decade search for one?
“I’m very confident from that standpoint,” Maccagnan said two weeks ago at the NFL league meetings. “That doesn’t faze me. It’s the college draft. Guys you’ll hit on. Guys that don’t pan out, that’s part of the process. But we feel pretty good about this year’s group and where we’re situated.”
The question of trusting Maccagnan is one I have heard a lot of from fans in recent months. Maccagnan’s quarterback track record is not a good one with Petty and Hackenberg. Petty proved he was not the answer for the Jets in two stints as the team’s starter at the end of the last two seasons. Hackenberg? He remarkably could not even get on the field.
Christian HackenbergGetty Images
Still, I think it is silly to point to those picks and make the correlation that Maccagnan does not know how to choose the right quarterback.
For starters, there is no talent evaluator in the NFL who gets them all right. Seattle general manager John Schneider found Richard Sherman, a four-time Pro Bowler, in the fifth round of the 2011 draft. That pick came after he took James Carpenter (now on the Jets) in the first round and John Moffitt, who played 19 total games, in the third round. Did Schneider suddenly get smarter on the third day of the draft?
Examples like this across the league are easy to find. Bill Belichick made arguably the greatest pick in NFL draft history when he tapped Tom Brady with the 199th pick in 2000. He also took Dominique Easley in the first round of the 2014 draft and ended up cutting him two years later.
Maybe you would argue the picks of Hackenberg and Petty show Maccagnan is weak at evaluating the quarterback position specifically. Did Jerry Reese not know what he was doing when he picked wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. because he drafted Ramses Barden a few years earlier?
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The Giants resist trades with the Broncos and Bills and… Maccagnan is a lifelong scout and you have to trust he and trusted lieutenant Brian Heimerdinger know what they are looking at when evaluating these quarterbacks. They have traveled thousands of miles to work out the top quarterbacks in this draft — Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield. They have gone to their pro days and have several of them coming to New Jersey this week for pre-draft visits. Mayfield arrived in Florham Park on Monday night. Rosen is also expected there this week.
The Petty/Hackenberg argument also loses steam because of where they were picked. Todd Bowles recently called the draft “an educated crapshoot.” It is a perfect description, but the odds in that crapshoot get worse the later you get in the draft. Hackenberg was the 51st pick overall. Petty was the 103rd.
The Jets viewed both Petty and Hackenberg as projects. You are not taking a project at No. 3 overall. This player won’t necessarily have to play right away, but will have to show the ability to play this season if needed.
Maccagnan is 0-for-2 drafting quarterbacks. But no one remembers the first two at-bats if he hits a home run in two weeks.