The idea that the New York Jets got hosed by moving up to the No. 3 pick in next month’s NFL Draft just doesn’t hold up is simply a tried and true cliché. What is growing tiresome, however, is the narrative that this organization always makes dumb moves, even when logic dictates that they were pretty shrewd.
In this instance, it doesn’t hold up to an explanation that the Jets moved up in the draft only to lose out on the one single player that they crave. Truth be told, this whole move was precipitated on the fact that the Jets moved up to give themselves flexibility.
The Jets traded their original first-round pick and three second-round picks to move up to No. 3, a deal that is universally being acknowledged as a trade so that the Jets can (finally) draft a franchise quarterback. Now with all the rumors that circulate around the draft, the speculation is strong that the Jets won’t be able to draft the player they moved up to pick at No. 3.
See, the Cleveland Browns are likely to take quarterback Sam Darnold at No. 1 and the New York Giants might go quarterback a pick later. All of which, conventional wisdom says, might leave the Jets on the outs.
Except that this was always a scenario and a likelihood when the Jets made this trade. They knew it all along. But it is more fun to bash the Jets than actually give them credit.
In what is a deep draft class for quarterbacks, the Jets know that the first pick, if not the first two picks, might well be a quarterback. The Browns are in need for someone under center and the Giants could draft a possible replacement for Eli Manning. There is also the fact that the Buffalo Bills or Arizona Cardinals, two quarterback-needy teams, might trade up with the Giants.
That two quarterbacks might be off the board by the time the Jets pick isn’t a shock, it is a very real possibility. The Jets aren’t deaf to this noise, they knew that trading up to No. 3 that they may not be able to land Darnold or fellow quarterback Josh Rosen. It is part of the due diligence any NFL team goes through at this point.
So that must mean that there is another player, potentially a quarterback, who the Jets feel confident will definitely be there at No. 3. A trade like this isn’t done on a 50-50 possibility to land just one player. The Jets gave up too much to not be confident that one of two players they rate will be there at third overall.
What the Jets did in moving up was put themselves in the best possible position to get better. The move to trade up in the draft doesn’t signal that the Jets have zeroed in on just one quarterback and are now hoping that he will be there.
Instead, it backs up the fact that they have a handful of players in mind at the pick, exactly what head coach Todd Bowles said on Tuesday. It could be a quarterback such as Baker Mayfield or Josh Allen. It might be a transformational running back such as Saquon Barkley or a much needed offensive lineman such as Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson.
All it says and shows is that the Jets were willing to make a calculated risk to get better and that they weren’t sure that, sitting at the sixth pick, that one of these players would still be there. So, they packaged some picks to make a move. Not with a single player in mind but so that they will have a choice to make the best possible pick.
A move that gives them the chance to get a gamechanger. A move that lets them get better.