The New York Jets didn’t get the quarterback that some thought they were going after in the NFL Draft, but they ultimately ended up with one of the best drafts of any team.
Leading up to the draft, the biggest mystery was whether or not the Tennessee Titans would trade the No. 2 pick to a team that wanted Marcus Mariota. The Jets, who owned the No. 6 pick, seemed to be in the best position to make a move since they had the best pick to offer in return.
At the end of the day the Titans kept the pick and selected Mariota — a move that now appears to have been the plan all along. It turned out to be the best thing to happen to the Jets. Instead of trading up, the Jets made what many analysts are calling two of the best picks in the draft.
1st round — Leonard Williams, DL (USC)
The big win for the Jets started early when they stayed at No. 6 and made a classic best-player-available pick, landing USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams, a player many had graded as the best player in the draft.
Defensive line was not considered a big need for the Jets. They already have two great players in Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson and a third very good player, Damon Harrison, in a 3-4 defence.
However, both Wilkerson and Harrison will be eligible for free agency next winter. In the meantime Williams can rotate in and learn before potentially becoming a full-time starter in 2016.
4th round — Bryce Petty, QB (Baylor)
The Jets may not have landed Mariota, but they may have picked up the next-best thing in quarterback Bryce Petty.
Petty is more of a project than some of the other top quarterbacks in the draft. But by all accounts he has all the physical tools to be a successful NFL quarterback and the early feeling is that the Jets got a steal by nabbing him in the fourth round.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. on ESPN Radio explained why this was such a great pick for the Jets:
“They hit the jackpot with Bryce Petty. I think the Jets did what Buffalo could have done or what other teams should have done and taken Petty in the third round. They get him in the fourth and if Geno [Smith] is not the guy then you at least give your fans something, ‘Two years down the road, we can have Bryce Petty.’ Not this year, but the following year, why not? He is not going to be a 5-year project here.”
The key here for the Jets is that they have a quarterback with experience in Geno Smith who can run the team in 2015.
With the Petty pick, the Jets can gave Smith one more year to show if he can be a playoff-calibre quarterback while Petty adjusts to the NFL, and then give Petty a shot if Smith doesn’t show dramatic improvement.
Mariota can still turn out to be a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. But in the absence of making that move, the Jets made the best of the situation and still landed a good quarterback and maybe the best player in the draft.
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