Despite a polarizing quarterback crop in this year’s Draft, Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan isn’t averse to taking a signal caller in the first round.
“My approach is whoever we feel is the best player for this organization at six, we’ll take him. Plain and simple,” Maccagnan said. “I think when you’re picking that high, if you feel a player is worthy of that pick or is the best at that point in time, you should pick him. We did that with Leonard Williams. Snacks [Damon Harrison] is no longer here, but we had a very good defensive line at that point in time. There were other positions that we may have had a higher ‘need’ at, but at the end of the day we felt Leonard was the best player available.”
Selecting Williams has paid off as the USC product is quickly becoming a cornerstone of the defense, leading the team in sacks (7.0) and quarterback hits (25) his sophomore season as well as earning a trip to the Pro Bowl.
The Jets’ quarterback landscape currently features two young guns in Bryce Petty andChristian Hackenberg as well as 15-year veteran Josh McCown, who was acquired in free agency. Maccagnan provided an injury update, saying he understands from the trainers that Petty can physically throw, but is still rehabbing from offseason surgery in his non-throwing shoulder. Head coach Todd Bowles declared an open competition under center and didn’t close the door on drafting a QB, something Maccagnan echoed.
“We’re going to make every position as competitive as possible,” he said. “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.”
A believer in the Ron Wolf philosophy where an ideal world involves drafting a quarterback every year, Maccagnan has selected a QB in each of his two drafts as architect of the Green & White, and 2017 could be the third. Pundits believe the top quarterback prospects this year are UNC’s Mitch Trubisky and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. In a nutshell, Trubisky may be the draft’s best pocket passer but has a small body of work as he’s only started 13 collegiate games. In comparison, Watson has tremendous pedigree and intangibles, but may not be the purest passer.
“Every team looks at this position, but I don’t think it’s a referendum on one or another player,” Maccagnan said. “I think it’s until you’re at a position where you feel, hey this is where we’re at. And we’re not at that this position yet, but we may be. Time will tell.”