The NFL Draft is April 27-29 in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia. We have quite some time until the Jets are up with the sixth overall selection in the draft. The debate has already begun as the direction of said pick. There are so many issues with the Jets moving forward that you can make an argument for left tackle, cornerback or even an edge rusher. The brain trust of GM Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles certainly have an interesting decision to make.
Let’s be realistic, 2016 was a flat-out disaster. The Jets failed on every level in their franchise, from management to coaching to execution of the players on the field. If you are any kind of fan of the NFL, you know the most important position is the quarterback. This past season, Ryan Fitzpatrick was a nightmare. The Jets certainly need to address the quarterback situation in free agency and need to bring in a veteran to compete with both youngsters Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty for the starting job. Should they address the quarterback position in the NFL Draft?
ESPN had a report toward the tail end of the NFL season that an anonymous Jets coach said Hackenberg “couldn’t hit the ocean.” That is not exactly confidence inspiring when you think about the future of the former Penn State star. The Jets denied that report. Former offensive coordinator Chan Gailey was asked about Hackenberg in December and said, "I think he's a developmental player at this point. There's a lot of talent there. The sky's the limit.”
Certainly we have no idea what Hackenberg is or what he could be at this stage. The Jets were criticized by some for not starting Hackeneberg this past season, but I do think that was the correct decision. If they felt that he was not ready or experienced enough to take advantage of the opportunity, than there is nothing to gain by starting him. You can actually hurt his chances at developing instead of enhancing it by starting a quarterback too soon.
We did see Petty in 2016, as he played and or started in six games and threw for 809 yards and completed 56 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has a nice arm and he has some good athletic ability, but he certainly did not do enough to stamp himself as the future of the Jets team at the position in any way shape or form.
So, that brings us to the original question of what should the Jets do with the sixth overall pick in April’s NFL Draft. They invested a second round pick in Hackenberg a year ago and they don’t really have any idea of what he is. They got a feel of Petty in what turned out to be a lost season and the search is still ongoing for a franchise quarterback. I don’t think the investment in Hackenberg should prevent the Jets from drafting a quarterback in the first round if they feel as an organization that said player is "the guy" and "the answer." The Jets organization in Florham Park should have a better idea than anyone else of what their two young quarterbacks are and what they are not. They should know if they have a solution long term at the position. If they feel they do not, and they feel that solution is there in the first round, than they have no other choice but to draft a quarterback in the first round.
The names are already out there in Clemson’s Deshaun Waston, North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer. All three have their positives and negatives as prospects and if the Jets feel that one of these guys is the one, then they need to avoid drafting any other position and draft a quarterback early. They all have to go through the draft process of the scouting combine and individual workout and we are four months away from the NFL Draft. But it will be on the Jets brain trust to find their future quarterback if they believe he is not already in the building.
As we get set for all the coverage of Super Bowl 51 this week between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots, remember they have Matt Ryan and Tom Brady at QB. They have franchise quarterbacks and when you don't have one, you better get one. After all, the quarterback position is the most important position in the NFL and the Jets have been searching for their next franchise quarterback for a long time.