Dec 5, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan State Spartans quarterback Connor Cook (18) looks to pass during the third quarter against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Conference football championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Jets need another quarterback bad. With Ryan Fitzpatrick’s situation still uncertain, they must do their due diligence and explore all options at the quarterback position.
Regardless of what happens with Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Jets should and probably will draft a quarterback at some point in the 2016 NFL Draft. The question is, will the Jets draft a quarterback in the first round?
The Jets should be patient and address the quarterback position later and draft an offensive lineman or pass rusher in the first round of this year’s draft. So with the assumption that Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Paxton Lynch will all go in the first round, the Jets will still have quality options available in the middle rounds to choose from.
Without further ado, here are the top five quarterbacks the Jets should target after the first round.
Next: 5. A Buckeye with a big arm
Sep 12, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Cardale Jones (12) warms up before the game against the Hawaii Warriors at Ohio Stadium. The Ohio State Buckeyes beat the Hawaii Warriors by the score of 38-0. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
5. Cardale Jones (Ohio State)
Physical traits alone, Cardale Jones is a first or second round pick. He has incredible arm strength and elite size for the quarterback position. He stands at 6’5” and weighs 250 lbs and has Cam Newton-like ability to scramble and fight for tough yards if nobody is open.
However, he struggled mightily in terms of decision making and accuracy. He missed too many throws and had a very tough time throwing the ball under pressure. He also couldn’t read coverages at the level that NFL scouts would like.
Jones projects as a day three pick. If offensive coordinator Chan Gailey is ready for the challenge of developing him, Jones’ raw talent and physical features could be worth the time and energy.
Next: 4. Andrew Luck's Stanford successor
Nov 21, 2015; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan (8) reacts on the sideline during the third quarter against the California Golden Bears at Stanford Stadium. Stanford defeated California 35-22. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
4. Kevin Hogan (Stanford)
Kevin Hogan took over as the Stanford starting quarterback when Andrew Luck declared for the 2012 NFL Draft. Since Hogan took over, he had a record of 36-10 as a starter and had one of the highest completion percentages in the NCAA over his career. Hogan never tries to do too much and will do everything he can to help his team win football games.
Hogan’s biggest problem is his flawed mechanics. His release is more comparable to a baseball player than an NFL quarterback and like Jones, he struggled under pressure. Despite his high completion percentages, a lot of the throws he made were short and intermediate throws. He doesn’t have a lot of arm strength and doesn’t always make the NFL throws you hope he would.
Hogan will probably fall to the fifth or sixth round but has the mental capability to develop into a solid backup and perhaps a Fitzpatrick-caliber starter.
Next: 3. The next Tim Tebow
Nov 21, 2015; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott (15) celebrates after the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mississippi State defeated Arkansas 51-50. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
3. Dak Prescott (Mississippi State)
Dak Prescott is widely regarded as the greatest quarterback in Mississippi State history and statistically matches up with just about any quarterback in SEC history. He was the leader for the Bulldogs and led them to some of the best years Mississippi State has ever had. He’s very Tim Tebow-like with his physical running style but would say he had a better arm than Tebow did. With good protection, he showed an ability to make good deep throws and also showed improvement in taking care of the football and cutting down on turnovers.
Prescott does need to work on his awareness and anticipation in the pocket and despite many scouts loving his character at his pro day, he got a DUI two days later which made a lot of executives raise an eyebrow.
Prescott will most likely go in the late third or early fourth round and if given time to catch up with the pace of the NFL, he has the mental acuity and leadership skills to develop into a nice starter.
Next: 2. The Spartan with all the tools
Dec 31, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Michigan State Spartans quarterback Connor Cook (18) drops back to pass against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the second quarter in the 2015 CFP semifinal at the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
2. Connor Cook (Michigan State)
Connor Cook had very high expectations heading into his senior season and while he put up very good numbers and got his team to the college football playoffs, his completion percentage dipped a bit and he suffered a shoulder injury during the 2015 season. He has the arm strength and the experience in a pro-style offense to jump into the pros on day one but there are other concerning factors.
One of those factors is the question of his team leadership. He wasn’t named a captain during his senior season and is rumored to have had a bad attitude and inconsistent effort. He also has to improve his accuracy.
He reminds of former Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins. He has the look and arm of an NFL quarterback and if he can improve his consistency and accuracy, he can be a really good starter in the NFL.
Next: 1. The next great quarterback?
Nov 28, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) drops back to pass the ball during the 2nd half of a game against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
1. Christian Hackenberg (Penn State)
Christian Hackenberg at one time was perceived to be the next great quarterback. Coming out of high school, Hackenberg was the most highly touted prospect. After an impressive freshman season under head coach Bill O’Brien, Hackenburg was skyrocketing into superstardom and NFL scouts drooled at his potential.
However, he disappointed in his sophomore and junior season and declined. Many felt he was and is overhyped but there’s no denying he has showcased excellent leadership skills and has shown he can thrive in a pro-style offense. There’s no throw he can’t make and is probably the best on this list in terms of pocket presence and awareness.
There are a lot of issues with him, however. His tape the last two years is dreadful compared to what he did in his freshman campaign. His games against teams like Temple and Rutgers were painful to watch. He had dismal accuracy against pressure and missed on throws that should’ve been pretty easy to make.
Hackenberg is probably the most polarizing quarterback prospect in the draft but the upside and tools are there for Hackenberg, in the right system, to be an excellent quarterback in the NFL.