Maybe Jets General Manager Mike Maccagnan is playing a game of poker. If you are a card player, you know the saying “Look around the poker table; if you can’t see the sucker, you’re it.” Are the Jets the sucker or are they Doyle Brunson, chip raising and looking to take another stack of chips off of the latest sucker? If you are a longtime Jets fan, you would probably bet on the former and not the latter. But maybe it is time to give the Jets the benefit of the doubt that they are working the system instead of getting worked over by the system.
At the scouting combine in Indianapolis, Maccagnan made it perfectly clear the Jets are “open for business” in trading their draft picks in order to acquire more assets as the organization is looking at a rebuild in 2017 and beyond. Now, in the world of the NFL and especially the NFL draft, nothing is at it seems. Teams are not going to be up front and honest about whom they like because of the fear of that player being picked before they have a chance to select him. Teams might be more inclined to talk up players they don’t like than players that they do.
This brings us to the curious case of North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky; remember his mom prefers “Mitchell” and not “Mitch,” so that is his official NFL name moving forward. Mom is always right, so no issues there. Trubisky seems to be a quarterback prospect that has drawn the interest of the Jets. It was reported in the NY Daily News three months ago that the Jets were quite smitten with the Tar Heel product. They saw him in Indianapolis and at his pro day in Chapel Hill and even had a private workout in North Carolina as well. Does this mean anything one way or the other? No, not really. It means that they have an interest and they are doing their due diligence as they hold the sixth overall pick in the NFL draft at the end of this month. But if they end up making that selection, they need to know and not think they know.
When Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles said there was a scenario in which the Jets drafted a quarterback with the sixth overall pick, it certainly raised a lot of eyebrows in this area. After all, they drafted Penn State signal caller Christian Hackenberg with a second round pick in last year’s draft. But maybe if we connected what Maccagnan said in early March at the scouting combine and what Bowles said in late March at the owner’s meetings in Phoenix we have a clearer picture of the direction of the Jets organization. In order to facilitate a trade, you might need to create a market, and maybe the Jets in doing their due diligence on Trubisky are also creating a market for which they can trade. Maybe, just maybe, the Jets are Doyle Brunson at the poker table of the NFL draft. Maybe they are trying to create a market place for Trubisky and then do what Maccagnan discussed earlier last month and trade down for more picks. In order to do that, they must bluff the rest of the NFL. They need to give a hard sell to the rest of that National Football League that they intend to draft Trubisky and see if anyone is willing to pay the price to move up.
For argument’s sake, if the Jets end up drafting Mitchell Trubisky, they must be 100 percent sure that he is the quarterback to lead the franchise for the next 10-12 years. He is expected to be the first quarterback selected and is ranked as the best quarterback prospect by most scouting services even if he only made 13 college starts. With that being said, there can be no guessing game after the investment they made a year ago with the second round choice of Hackenberg.
I know this might be a difficult thing to do, but I am willing to give the Jets the benefit of the doubt. I am willing to believe that the decision makers in Florham Park are actually playing the game properly. They are getting as much information as they possibly can in order to use their selection in the best way possible. Every year, there is a sucker in the NFL draft — just ask the Cleveland Browns — an organization that trades multiple assets to move up in the draft. Maybe the Jets are trying to facilitate the market for a strong-armed signal caller.
Look around the poker table; if you can’t see the sucker, you’re it. The Jets have been the sucker before. The have been an easy read at the game of poker that is the NFL draft. Later this month, they can’t afford to be again. Draft day must be a win for Gang Green and it starts with the sixth overall pick.