Baker Mayfield. (Photo: Getty Images)
With the third pick in the NFL Draft…
 
A franchise that has never found a solution for Joe Namath let alone a replacement has that opportunity tonight to draft a winner. To grab a player who can lead this team back to the playoffs, a place they haven’t been since 2010. A quarterback to lead them to a winning record, something the Jets have done just once in a stretch that is now poised to reach eight seasons.
 
When general manager Mike Maccagnan moved up in the draft last month, sending the sixth overall pick as well as three second picks to the Indianapolis Colts to jump three spots, it signaled a seminal moment for this franchise. Maccagnan didn’t make this move hoping to land just any quarterback. After time spent evaluating players at the Senior Bowl and then the NFL Combine, not to mention plenty of scouting at games and practices last fall, the Jets have a pretty good idea and grasp about the talent available to them not just with their original pick but now selecting at No. 3.
 
And Maccagnan, certainly no fool, knew that one of two quarterbacks would be there for him. He didn’t make this trade on a wing and a prayer. It was a calculated move.
He did it playing the odds and banking that he would be able to take a franchise quarterback picking third overall. That the odds were better at that spot than at sixth.
The Jets will be taking a quarterback tonight in the first round, there is no doubting that.
 
…the New York Jets select…
 
This is a franchise that has settled on quarterbacks in recent years of the draft. The selection of Mark Sanchez in 2009 was undercut by personnel decisions in subsequent years that hampered his development. Geno Smith, the second round pick a couple of years ago, was anointed the heir apparent way too soon. And Christian Hackenberg doesn’t seem ready to take the torch from ‘Broadway Joe.’
 
The winding, twisting road that got the Jets here include pit stops with players such as Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brett Favre, temporary answers on the way. Some draft picks worked out well, like Chad Pennington. But none has ushered this team towards sustained success or brought the Jets back to the Super Bowl let alone win it.
The ulcer that grows bigger each year inside Jets fans might finally get that elixir tonight.
 
This pick, this selection, determines the direction of the franchise for the next decade. The Jets went through a painful series of cuts last year and started to rebuild this offseason. They go into next year not just with roughly $100 million in salary cap space but also with a starting quarterback who will have been developed this year behind two veterans.
 
It is an exciting time for the one player, taken third overall, who will lead them. There is hope now, finally. There is promise. This franchise actually has a sense of direction and tonight’s pick will be expected to get them there.
 
Baker Mayfield, quarterback from Oklahoma.
 
There is only one pick here and it is Mayfield.
 
It has to be ‘Broadway Baker,’ the gunslinger who won the Heisman and the Maxwell Award as the nation’s top player. In Mayfield, they have a winner, someone who with every grab to his nether region shows the type of intensity and desire that has been lacking among Jets quarterbacks since, well, Namath left the building.
 
Mayfield has the numbers, the ridiculously high completion percentage as well as a gaudy touchdown-to-interception ratio. He’s a winner and will excite not just the fans but his teammates.
 
There is nothing that Mayfield, a former walk-on at Oklahoma, wants more than to rack up wins. What he may lack in pure height he makes up for in backbone and sheer guts.
 
He’s a kid with a chip on his shoulder, who always has viewed the world as being against him. In high school, no one believed in him enough to give him a scholarship. Now hours away from the NFL Draft, people doubt his production and ability, that he can translate his unstoppable form in the Big XII to playing on Sundays.
 
The time is now for this son of Texas, the plucky gunslinger with more moxie and courage than the other draft prospects combined. It is time for Mayfield to pick up that white fur coat, dust it off, and roll into town to turn around this franchise’s fortunes.
Time to fulfill the legacy of Namath, the greatest quarterback and player to ever don the green and white of the Jets.
It is Mayfield time in New York, ‘Broadway Baker’ set to step under center. It is guarantee-worthy to say the least.