Jets wisely followed the Patriot way in 2017 NFL Draft
By Chris Stephano
The New York Jets had one of the oddest drafts in franchise history, opting to acquire as many players and draft picks as possible. Fans should be encouraged by their team’s draft strategy, as it’s one the New England Patriots have used successfully for years.
Every NFL fans’ favorite offseason event is the 2017 NFL Draft. It has officially come and gone and was filled with plenty of surprises. In typical fashion, every sports site, talk show, and blog will spend months blindly speculating about what teams “won” and “lost” in the draft. In many instances, the “expert” predictions will be dead wrong. The New York Jets now have their draft selections in the books as they prepare for the long offseason ahead.
Rather than discuss the merits of the particular players chosen or not chosen by the Jets, I’d prefer to focus on their new draft strategy.
GM Mike Maccagnan & Jets' picks trade w/ CLE is Jets' 4th tradedown, most in any draft in franch history (3 tradedowns in '06, 3 in '97).
— Randy Lange (@rlangejets) April 29, 2017
Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan opted to trade down in the draft to the point where they were the most in franchise history. He also made another trade that dealt a late pick in this year’s draft for a fifth round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
When the dust had settled, the Jets used nine draft picks to bolster their team for the future. With them, they made an extensive effort to improve the defensive secondary (two safeties and two cornerbacks drafted) and also added some talented pass catchers (two wide receivers, one tight end drafted).
While the team addressed many areas of need, the Jets refrained from drafting a quarterback. Multiple teams (Bears, Chiefs, Texans) opted to trade draft picks to move up in the first round and select quarterbacks. The Jets took a more conservative approach in the draft, and will seemingly open the season with the undesirable trio of Josh McCown, Bryce Petty, and Christian Hackenberg at quarterback.
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Maybe McCown winds the clock back and serves as a respectable game manager. Maybe Hackenberg finds a way to turn his tremendous arm talent into a successful NFL career. All that being said, the Jets quarterback situation looks bleak in 2017.
However, unless the Jets were going to magically stumble upon the next Aaron Rodgers, there was no quarterback they could possibly draft that would make them immediate contenders. The Jets were wise to show discipline in the draft, stockpiling talented players instead of trading away multiple picks to reach for a mediocre quarterback prospect.
Consider the Patriots, a team that hoards draft picks like Scrooge McDuck does gold coins. Over the past 10 years, the Patriots have had extra draft picks six times (2009, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016). And only once over the past decade did the Patriots have less than the standard 7 draft picks (2017).
In addition to stockpiling picks and not reaching for a quarterback, the Jets also placed a new emphasis on player character in the draft. It’s no secret that the Jets locker room was an embarrassment and a mess last season.
Successful franchises like the Patriots find ways to keep a controlled locker room. By refusing to draft some of the more prominent prospects with character issues (like Gareon Conley and Joe Mixon), and by their continued efforts to trade the troubled Sheldon Richardson, the Jets are committing to a stable locker room in 2017.
Next: Final grades for entire 2017 NFL Draft class of the Jets
The Jets have a long way to go, and 2017 is going to be a painful rebuilding season. But by stockpiling draft picks, refusing to reach for players, and factoring in character issues to their player evaluations, the team is emulating the success of great franchises like the Patriots and setting themselves up for future success. Now if they could only find a quarterback.