In what will be his first NFL Draft in charge of the Jets, the pressure is on general manager John Idzik to produce nothing short of a home run. The men who know him best think he is capable of doing just that.
Idzik comes to the Jets with an intriguing resume even if it might not appear on paper like he’s an ideal candidate. With Seattle the past six seasons, Idzik was the vice president of football administration, a title not synonymous with the draft process. But in this role, he had a vital role in personnel decisions as he specialized in salary cap issues and contracts and also had a hand in player evaluations.
“John did scout on the road and attended workouts for us. Our draft process is mostly collaborative by nature,” John Schneider, executive vice president/general manager of the Seahawks, told Metro New York. “John sat right behind me in the room on draft day and provided input throughout that process. Additionally, he was responsible for coordinating the free agency period of the draft for us. He was a valuable asset.”
The buck now stops with Idzik.
When Idzik was introduced in late January, owner Woody Johnson praised a background that included drafting and scouting. Much like Schneider described the Seahawks draft process, Idzik says all decisions relating to personnel will be collaborative in nature. But last week when he spoke about the draft, he acknowledged the decisions ultimately come down to him.
It won’t be an easy challenge. The Jets have had their struggles recently and lost six starters on defense and four starters on offense from last year’s team.
People around the Jets facility speak glowingly of Idzik in his three months on the job. He has been called a “visionary, someone who looks down the road” by one member in senior management and another who has been involved in the scouting and evaluation process said he is “thorough and concise, I would say to a fault but it isn’t a bad thing so I can’t find it as a fault.”
All told for this draft, the Jets have run 1,426 player evaluations, visited 271 schools, written over 5,000 reports and interviewed over 300 potential draftees. In short, Idzik left no stone unturned in rebuilding this team.
“I’ve been impressed with John now and how he handled things. He’s not afraid to be unpopular, such as the Revis trade. That is a bold move,” one general manager told Metro earlier this week. “I think Idzik will be a departure from the Jets mentality in the past in their war room. He won’t go for the name. He will go for what will help the Jets the most. At the end of the day, it might not grab the headlines in New York but if they win, that’s all that will matter to him.”
Those who worked with Idzik in Seattle say he is pragmatic and can absorb a voluminous amount of information quickly, digesting and discerning it with ease. He works hard and takes great pride in the end result.
On Thursday night, the Jets own two picks in the Top 13 selections, giving Idzik an instant chance to reshape a team that hasn’t made the playoffs the past two seasons. No matter how the draft board shapes up, his old boss in Seattle is certain that Idzik will be prepared.
“He has a very level-handed and pragmatic approach to the job. He is going to be thorough and steadfast. I think he will stay true to his beliefs and make smart, sound decisions based on how they see the board,” Schneider said. “He is not the type of guy who is going to get flustered or step out of character. I think he will go into the draft with a good plan and do everything in his power to execute it. I thought he was a good choice for the job and I think he will do a nice job.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.