In the 2009 NFL Draft, the Jets selected Mark Sanchez with the fifth pick, as the second quarterback taken overall (Matthew Stafford was the no. 1 pick).
In doing so, the Jets passed on Josh Freeman, who went 12 picks later to the Buccaneers.
Recently, Rex Ryan explained just how close the Jets came to drafting Freeman instead of Sanchez. In an interview, Ryan suggested that the Jets passed on Freeman because more teammates showed up to Sanchez’ workout for the Jets.
“Honestly,” Ryan said “that might have been what separated them – the immense respect we sensed from the people who played with Mark and knew him so well.”
Now, that seems like a silly reason to draft one player over another. But I guess if you can’t come up with any other reason, that beats flipping a coin.
More importantly, we are now two seasons removed from the draft and we can start to wonder if it was the right decision.
We have already seen that Freeman’s 2010 season was one of the best ever for a young quarterback. But Sanchez has led his team to the AFC championship game twice in two years, while Freeman has yet to even play in a playoff game.
Here is the head-to-head comparison…
Both quarterbacks had shaky rookie campaigns and showed improvement in 2010. But Sanchize’s improvement pales in comparison to what Freeman did last season. The Bucs quarterback outperformed Sanchez in every category, despite playing with inferior teammates.
There is a feeling that the Jets have played in the AFC title game the last two years in spite of their quarterback. If that is true, you might be able to make an argument that, despite the differences in success the last two years, the Bucs are in a better position moving forward.
In hindsight, maybe it was silly to base the future of a franchise on how many of the quarterback’s teammates showed up to his workout. And maybe the Jets would be Super Bowl favourites if they had Freeman at quarterback.