If three’s company, then the Jets’ quarterback situation could soon be a crowd.
Despite having recently signed Mark Sanchez to a five-year deal and trading for a “backup” in Tim Tebow, not to mention drafting Greg McElroy last April, the Jets haven’t ruled out selecting another quarterback in this week’s NFL Draft. The team carried four quarterbacks last year, including McElroy who spent his rookie season out with a dislocated thumb, so the precedent is certainly there.
“We can keep four quarterbacks and we will just see how the draft unfolds. I would definitely not rule out a quarterback. Going back to the Ron Wolf/Mike Holmgren thing, when you look at Aaron Brooks and just go all the way down the line of all the guys they drafted — Rob Johnson, [Matt] Hasselbeck — they did a great job for a lot of years developing quarterbacks. If you look at their sustainability, that was a bedrock of it,” general manager Mike Tannenbaum said.
“Again, I am not saying that Greg [McElroy] will turn into a front-line starter, but he played well in the preseason. He almost led us against Houston [last preseason] and he has done good things for us. Obviously, he was hurt, but classroom time and he’s a hard worker, we are excited about what he can do, but I would not rule that out.”
The addition of Tebow, of course, is the interesting component in all of this. While the Jets have repeatedly made it a point that Tebow is coming in behind Sanchez on the depth chart and will be the quarterback of their “Wildcat” package, his unique skillset certainly makes him an intriguing player at a position that remains unsettled with the Jets.
Sanchez’s third year in the league showed little progress and the Jets failed to make the playoffs. His decision making was poor, he frequently got rattled and his sack and interception numbers were both up over his second year.
Enter Tebow, who won the starting quarterback job in Denver last year. Despite rumors that Tebow will play in the backfield or could get some snaps on special teams, Tannenbaum is committed to his newest quarterback being just that — a quarterback first and foremost.
Albeit his “backup.”
“He has some versatility. He is our backup quarterback. That is how we are listing him; that is how we are going to carry him on our roster,” Tannenbaum said.
“Again, that could be more like a subtle tiebreaker, knowing he has a unique skillset and athleticism. In terms of how we are looking at our strategy, he is clearly at quarterback for us and that is how we are listing him.”
If the Jets, who have 10 picks in the draft, decide to forego drafting a quarterback, there is certainly talent available among the pool of rookie free agents. A source told Metro New York that University of Albany’s Dan Dillela will likely be targeted after the draft.
“The Jets really like his skillset,” the source said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he is their first player signed as an undrafted free agent. He has good arm strength and all the right physical tools.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer leading up to this week’s NFL Draft.