Re-Evaluating John Idzik’s First Draft with the New York Jets


Aug 3, 2013; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets general manager John Idzik looks on during training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Trying to find bright spots after three consecutive losses is difficult. At some point I’m just going to say it’s so difficult I’m going to think about what could have been. I’m a draft nut, so this is a thing that often bugs me. I see it a lot in the NFL, and also in the NBA. An owner like James Dolan with the Knicks, or Woody Johnson with the Jets brings in guys to straighten out my beloved NY teams. In the Knicks case, they had a competent GM named Donnie Walsh who had brought New York under a bloated salary cap, had brought in some young talent in the form of Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallenari, and also David Lee. He had a solid trio, draft picks, and cap space. The owner ( James Dolan) fired him, brought in a company man who traded all those drafted players away. Long story short, the Knicks are again over the salary cap, no youth or depth to speak of, and also traded away three or four years of 1st round draft picks, and currently have no way to fix their 3-9 season. This is a football site, but same concept applies to the Jets.

John Idzik was brought in by Woody Johnson, outside of Rex Ryan’s realm of authority. At first everyone stated things like he has four or five starters that he got out of his first draft. That’s true, but I never felt that this made him a good GM. He did land starters by draft or trade in Sheldon Richardson, Dee Milliner, Geno Smith, Brian Winters, Chris Ivory, and Tommy Bohanon. If you look at it that way, he actively got six guys into starting jobs in his first draft. However there is a big asterisk when you consider Dee Milliner isn’t really a competent starter, Winters starts by default of Ducasse’s failure, Geno Smith is in by default of injury, and Chris Ivory didn’t need to be traded for. To me this drops his number from six good acquisitions to Sheldon Richardson and Tommy Bohanon. Out of two first round draft picks and a full complement of draft picks, he got two right. I’m not blaming him for the Jets’ lack of offense, because you can’t produce an offense in one off season. I am saying, however, sometimes it’s easy to out-think yourself instead of just doing what is simple, drafting a good player that will help your team.

Round 1: The best cover corner in the draft was Desmond Trufant, not Dee Milliner. Trufant showed it in the Senior Bowl, in the combine, and in workouts, he was the better guy. Milliner got a bump because of the school he played for rather than the player he is. Jets should have drafted Trufant who had no injury history, and left Milliner and his five surgeries on the board. True story.

Round 2: Idzik takes Geno Smith. He does this although the Jets need offensive playmakers and offensive line help. The Jets could have drafted literally Robert Woods, Keenan Allen, Markus Wheaton, Terrance Williams, or Steadman Bailey who all could have provided a consistent receiving presence. As of right now Williams has 33 receptions/500 yards/5 TD’s. Robert Woods has 28 catches/388 yards/2 TD’s. The clincher is Keenan Allen who was seen as a possession receiver that the Jets needed. He now has 58 catches/843 yards/3 TD’s. Any one of those guys would have helped the offense more than Geno Smith has. Since all the quarterbacks had question marks coming in, why not help the offense first, and bring in the project QB after that? Quarterbacks Idzik didn’t draft were Ryan Nassib, Landry Jones, and Zac Dysert, all taken after round four.

Jul 27, 2013; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets guard Brian Winters (67) walks out to the field prior to the start of training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Round 3: While I am not against Brian Winters, and I am not a part of the Jets brain-trust, I can’t fault them for getting an offensive lineman. Here’s my problem. The St. Louis Rams drafted Barrett Jones a full 40 picks after the Jets drafted Winters. Barrett Jones is the 6’4 300 pound do-it-all center from Alabama. He played, center/guard/and tackle at one point, and he did it well and was captain of a line boasting three other NFL lineman. Drafting Winters in the 3rd over Jones in the 4th who could have started at guard, or backed up EVERY position on the Jets line was stupid in my opinion.

Round 4: The Jets gave away a draft pick for Chris Ivory. Ivory is like Winters, he’s not a bad player, but why? He’s never been a feature back, so why trade for him? The Jets wouldn’t have even had to give up a draft pick for guys like Michael Turner as the power back. If they wanted to draft a power guy, they could have gotten Zac Stacy who has more yards for the Rams in eight games than Ivory does, Mike James drafted in the 6th round has 300 yards, a 5 YPC average, and 2 TD’s. Point is, why trade away a draft pick for Ivory? He never was going to be a 300 carry running back, and never will be.

This is an annoyingly long blog about John Idzik, and this past draft. Sometimes drafting is simple. Figure out what it is you need, or want to do, and find the best player that does that in the draft. Milliner never was the best at covering, Smith never was the best QB (Nassib was), Ivory wasn’t the best choice as a power runner, and there was no thought at all given to who would be the receiver to eat up catches and make first downs. As I pointed out there were at least three, maybe four that could have been doing that and helping the Jets passing game as it fails week after week.

I will never say the Jets season was a failure, and I won’t say Idzik sucks or anything like that. I will say maybe he over-thinks the simple decisions, like a quarterback needs talent to throw to, running backs are a dime a dozen, and proven lineman don’t grow on trees. Just a thought about the latest company man.