Laremy Tunsil's slide down the board set up a dream scenario for the Jets in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night.
According to a source, general manager Mike Maccagnan tried desperately to move up in the order — from No. 20 to as high as No. 7 or 8 — in hopes of stealing the Ole Miss offensive tackle whose top-five draft-day hopes went up in smoke. Literally.
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But the source said the Jets, who feverishly worked to move up into the high teens after previous trade attempts failed, couldn’t give up enough compensation to make another team budge.
Tunsil, the highest-rated tackle in this year’s draft, conceivably lost millions after his stock plummeted when a video clip of him smoking a bong through a gas mask was posted from his verified Twitter account shortly before Round 1 began.
Tunsil deleted his original Twitter account and later created a new one to acknowledge it was, in fact, him in the video. And instead of being a top-five pick, he slid all the way to No. 13 when he was picked by the Miami Dolphins.
But his social media woes didn’t end there.
Before Day 1 ended, two screenshots of an alleged text message conversation between Tunsil and Ole Miss assistant athletic director John Miller were posted on Tunsil’s Instagram page. The thread pertained to the university paying Tunsil’s mother’s rent and electric bills.
The Instagram account, like his Twitter account, was hacked, Tunsil said.
After the Dolphins selected him, Tunsil acknowledged to reporters that he took money from Ole Miss coaches. “I made a mistake. That happened,” he said. “I’d have to say yeah.”
The university said in a statement Friday it is “aware of the reports from the NFL Draft regarding Laremy Tunsil and potential NCAA violations during his time at Ole Miss” and “will aggressively investigate and fully cooperate with the NCAA and the SEC.”
Ole Miss is currently under NCAA investigation and received a Notice of Allegations from the governing body in January regarding violations in football, women’s basketball and track and field.
But the character concerns that caused some NFL teams to cross him off their board didn’t dissuade the Jets’ decision-makers. Maccagnan & Co. felt comfortable enough in their scouting and due diligence to take a shot at getting Tunsil. They just couldn’t offer enough to make a trade happen.
The Jets stayed at 20 and selected Ohio State outside linebacker Darron Lee. The 6-1, 232-pounder will be an inside linebacker in Todd Bowles’ scheme.
“It was an interesting first round,” Maccagnan said Thursday night. “Just to start to give you guys a little insight, there were a couple of scenarios where we kind of monitored other players in the draft and sort of fielded calls, potentially trying to either move up or move back, more or less like every first round and every draft I’ve been around and associated with.
“We’ll see how this thing unfolds going forward, but we’re quite excited about the player we got. We had a few players we were hoping would be there at 20. He was definitely one of them, so we’re kind of excited to get him and bring him to our organization.”
With The Associated Press