Although Mike Maccagnan hit on first-round talent, that’s where his draft success ended with the New York Jets.
Fans were very harsh on the now-former GM throughout his tenure in New York. For the most part, their issues had to do with his shortcomings in one area—the draft.
Most are already aware that Maccagnan’s drafts weren’t exactly sublime. However, I wanted to get a more exact look at how productive Maccagnan’s drafts have been when stacked up against the rest of the league.
This dive relied on the “Approximate Value” stat—a metric generated by Pro-Football-Reference that aims to attach a single number to players as an estimate of the value they’ve provided on the field. It’s an imperfect measure, especially over small samples or single seasons, but it is a tremendous tool for the purpose of this study. Over large samples, it gets the job done nicely.
For a more in-depth explanation of the stat, check out Pro-Football-Reference’s explanation.
Let’s dig into the numbers and find out where Maccagnan’s drafts stood up against the rest of the NFL.
Note that all numbers are based on the 2015-2018 drafts.
- So far, Maccagnan’s first four draft classes have accumulated a total approximate value of 154. That ties the Jets with the Raiders for the 28th-best in the league, or fourth-worst.
- The Jets made 28 draft picks over Maccagnan’s first four drafts, tied for the ninth-fewest in the league. Those picks have accumulated an average of 5.5 approximate value over their careers to date, which is the 10th-lowest total in the league. Over that span, the Jets are the only team in the league placed bottom ten in both selections made and approximate value per selection.
- If there is anything that Maccagnan did OK with, it’s the first round. His four first-round selections have averaged 7.4 AV per season, the fifth-best mark in the NFL.
- Of course, Maccagnan had some good luck going his way in the first. The average Jets’ first rounder over this span was made at slot number 8.8 overall, the second-best first round positioning in the league behind only the Bears. Three of the four picks landed in the top six overall. In addition, a lot of fans have argued that Leonard Williams, Jamal Adams, and Sam Darnold were obvious picks that fell into Maccagnan’s lap. There’s a bit of credence to that claim, but regardless, some credit is due to Maccagnan for not completely flubbing the first round. It might be the only credit he deserves.
- Round two was an entirely different story. Maccagnan’s three second-round picks have averaged 1.0 AV per season and have combined for a total of 9.0 AV, both totals worst in the NFL.
- The Jets’ second-round per-season average (1.0) and AV total (9.0) are each the worst by any team in any single round over the first three rounds of the draft. Marcus Maye has produced an AV of 8.0 so far, or an average of 4.0 per season. That makes him a slightly above-average second-round value, but Maccagnan’s other two picks were so awful that Maye’s decency can’t save him here. Christian Hackenberg dropped a zero as he never appeared in a single game, while Devin Smith put up only 1.0 AV.
- When you take the first round out of the picture, it becomes clear that Maccagnan’s Jets were perhaps the worst drafting team in the NFL over the final seven rounds. The 80 AV they’ve gotten from post-first round picks is easily the worst in the league. The 19 AV difference between the 32nd-ranked Jets and the 31st-ranked Raiders is the biggest gap between any two bordering spots on the list.
- Only five Jets selections from the 2015 and 2016 drafts remain with the team today, tying the Jets for the ninth-lowest total of remaining players in the league. Two of those players are special teams contributors—Lachlan Edwards and Charone Peake. If you removed them from the equation, the total of three players left would tie the Jets for the third-fewest.
- The average Jets pick over Maccagnan’s first four drafts was made at slot No. 122.8, the 12th best average pick position in the NFL. Despite that, the Jets ranked only 23rd in average AV accumulated per player. That 11-spot difference is third-worst in the league, better than only Baltimore and Cleveland.
- I came up with a metric called “Net AV”—which showed the disparity between a team’s actual AV production and the AV production they should be expected to have based on which round each of their picks were made in (using the average AV per season value of a pick in each round, based on the 2014-15 drafts). Basically, it shows how much a team exceeded or fell short of expectations.
For example, I found that first round picks tend to produce an average of about 5.6 AV per season. Four seasons have passed since Leonard Williams was drafted in the first round, so his “expected AV” would be about 22.4. Given that Williams has accumulated a career total of 35 AV, that would make him a +12.6 value. Combine this value from every selection a team has made, and you have their total Net AV.
Beyond the first round, Maccagnan’s Jets have posted a Net AV of -30.77, fourth-worst, as their 80 AV fell short of their expected value of about 111. On a per-player basis, the average post-round one Jets selection has had a Net AV value of -1.28, which is the worst mark in the league.
- Altogether, with every round of the draft included, the Jets checked in at 25th in total Net AV.
The timing may have been odd. The firing itself may have certified the mishandling of the hiring process by the Jets back in January. However, one thing is for certain—the Jets have rid themselves of one of the worst drafting general managers in football.
Whoever Maccagnan’s replacement may be, it will be a difficult task for him to match the draft weekend ineptitude that preceded his entry into Florham Park.