Strutting into the offseason like Ric Flair down the aisle, Mike Maccagnan had a war chest to spend to upgrade the New York Jets roster. While some new faces will grace the compound in Florham Park, it’s the trade Maccagnan made that could be franchise altering.
New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan was very active in free agency. He brought in Trumaine Johnson, Isaiah Crowell, Spencer Long, Avery Williamson and Teddy Bridgewater, high upside talents that could bolster both sides of the ball.
He also re-signed players familiar with the system and personnel who bought into the Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles vision of the franchise. Most notably, Josh McCown, who will once again play mentor to Bridgewater and whomever the Jets select in the draft.
To be clear, Gang Green will select a quarterback in the draft. Because the Jets were unable to trade up to the first or second pick in the draft, let’s take a look at the scenarios that will present themselves when the Jets select with the third pick.
“The People’s Champion,” as discovered during a Twitter poll conducted by ESPN’s Rich Cimini. Rosen accounted for 38-percent of the vote in a sample of over 9,300 fans. Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and Josh Allen rounded out the four-quarterback field.
Time for the people to speak. Assuming the #Jets pick a quarterback with the third pick, which one do you prefer?
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) March 18, 2018
There are a few knocks on Rosen that could give Maccagnan some pause in selecting the UCLA product. Rosen has had a few concussions and a shoulder injury during his sophomore year in 2016. An injury that didn’t seem to hamper him during the 2017 campaign nor during the combine or pro day.
What may prevent the Jets from selecting Rosen isn’t what he did on the field, but for what he has displayed off the field. Rosen has been critical of the GOP in his words and actions.
Rosen wore a hat during a golf outing at a Donald Trump-owned facility with a disparaging message about President Trump. Could this franchise draft a player who disrespected the person who appointed Woody Johnson diplomat to the United Kingdom? Will that matter?
If you pay attention to Jets talk at all, then you already know the accuracy issues of Josh Allen. His sub-60 percent passing percentage is the worst of all of the top four quarterback prospects.
But what Allen does have is the highest ceiling and a cannon for an arm. Allen showed off his gift during the combine by tossing 70-yard bombs in front of the many talent evaluators.
Allen’s senior year was a disaster, especially against the notable programs of Oregon and Iowa. He was dreadful, but in his defense, there was not much talent around him. Wyoming boasts one NFL prospect this year, Allen.
Allen is ideal for the image of the Jets. He is a kid from humble beginnings, who spent summers working on his family farm. If Maccagnan is looking for humility and an ingrained work ethic, Allen will be his guy.
Brash, self-assured and confident bordering cocky. Say what you want about Baker Mayfield, but make sure you remember that he’s an absolute winner.
Advertised as the “most accurate” quarterback in the 2018 draft class, Mayfield utilized the talent around him to lead the Oklahoma Sooners into the NCAA Playoff. The Heisman Trophy winner would be the consensus number one pick if it weren’t for his height and spending his college career in a spread offense.
Baker Mayfield on combine meeting with Jets: 'Smooth' https://t.co/XK5dsFXb6t
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) March 10, 2018
Standing six-foot-tall, many general managers won’t entertain the prospect of Mayfield at the helm because of this detriment. A large contingent of the fanbase has no problem overlooking his lack of height, as they feel that “Broadway Baker” has the perfect personality to handle the distractions of New York and it’s media.
While it feels like Mayfield is fourth in the pecking order in many NFL analyst eyes, make no mistake about it, he will be a first-round pick. However, because it is hard for evaluators to overlook the lack of prototypical height and inexperience at being under center, could we see an Aaron Rodgers-like fall on draft night?
It would be an opening night shock at the draft on April 26 to not see Sam Darnold go with the first selection in the draft. The question is, can Mike Maccagnan put together the package to move up to number one to select the USC signal caller?
USC will hold its Pro Day today. Sam Darnold will throw in front of NFL reps, including Jets GM Mike Maccagnan #nyj
— Brian Costello (@BrianCoz) March 21, 2018
Like Josh Allen, Darnold’s final season at USC was less than impressive. Turnovers plagued Darnold in some of the biggest spots of the college football season. Both became clients of quarterback guru Jordan Palmer to fix their glaring deficiencies.
While Darnold’s Rose Bowl coming out party win over Penn State put him on the national stage, the scrutiny spotlight shined bright during the 2017 season. Yet, even with the warts that appeared, Darnold still seems most likely to be selected first.
If Maccagnan can finagle his way to the top of the draft, it’s because the “Suck for Sam” prospect was the plan all along. Darnold’s cool demeanor and experience with the Los Angeles media will prepare him well for New York and it’s rabid fan base.
The “wildcard” selection. Don’t be confused here, if Saquon Barkley is selected with the third selection, two of the top three quarterback prospects were selected with the first two picks. This won’t be the Jets selecting Barkley.
If the Cleveland Browns, the New York Giants or a team to be named later select first and second, the Jets will have leverage in moving the third pick for a team to select the Penn State running back. It’s not inconceivable that this team is the Browns with the fourth pick.
This would be mastery by Maccagnan, to be able to select his quarterback with the fourth selection and recoup an asset or two along the way. The Chicago Bears set this precedent when they moved up one spot to select quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
This high stakes game of chicken is unlikely, but cannot be ruled out. If Maccagnan’s top two quarterback prospects are off the board when the Jets go on the clock, expect the phone line to be flooded in what could be the most dramatic draft selection of all time!
Ranking the scenarios by likelihood:
- Mike Maccagnan selects Josh Allen. With a big arm and a squeaky-clean image, it’s hard to imagine the New York Jets passing on the quarterback with the highest ceiling.
- Mike Maccagnan selects Josh Rosen. If Sam Darnold and Josh Allen are off the board, Rosen’s talents will outweigh his off the field antics and opinions. Rosen has the potential to be a face of the franchise.
- Mike Maccagnan trades up to select Sam Darnold. If Maccagnan has eyes for only Sam, expect the general manager with his job on the line to do whatever it takes to get the All-American kid.
- Mike Maccagnan trades back to a team who will select Saquon Barkley. Barkley is considered by many to be the best player in this draft. It would not be a shock if a team like Cleveland Browns trades up to grab the Penn State product to pair with their top pick quarterback.
- Mike Maccagnan selects Baker Mayfield. The trade up with the Indianapolis Colt was a moot point, as the Jets could have selected Mayfield with the sixth pick. Mayfield will be the pick if the Jets can flip the third pick and obtain more assets than they gave up in the original trade with the Colts.