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Jets' Idzik won't rule out drafting a QB in first round

John Idzik talks during a news conference ahead

John Idzik talks during a news conference ahead of the NFL Draft on Wednesday, April 30, 2014, in Florham Park, N.J. Credit: AP / Julio Cortez

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - As always, John Idzik is keeping his plans under wraps.

With a week to go until the NFL draft, the Jets general manager offered no real insight Wednesday into the organization's strategy with 12 draft picks and the No. 18 pick overall. But he did divulge that the Jets are keeping their options open -- even at quarterback.

"We remain open-minded," Idzik said during a predraft news conference. "We're going to evaluate each pick and the players that are available to us at that pick, and we'll pick who we think is the best player."

The Jets surprised many last year by selecting Geno Smith 39th overall, despite having the incumbent Mark Sanchez. The addition of Smith brought their QB total to six, but Idzik & Co. explained that Smith's skill set was just too good to ignore.

And the organization has been keeping a close eye on this year's quarterback class as well. "We spend as much time with them as we do any position," said senior director of college scouting Terry Bradway, who joined Idzik and director of college scouting Jeff Bauer. "We've seen them all. We've got them ranked, and feel good about where we have them on our board."

Smith started every game in 2013 after Sanchez suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the preseason. And when Sanchez became a salary-cap casualty last month, the Jets signed former Eagles quarterback Michael Vick "to compete" with and "push" Smith in 2014. But that doesn't mean the organization is set at the position.

"We'll always operate off our mantra of competition," Idzik said. "If a new guy comes in, then we'd expect him to add to that competition, that's going to make everybody better. Not only the rookie, not only Matt [Simms], Mike, but also Geno. So that runs throughout. That is legitimate. That is not just a line that we use."

Smith, meanwhile, is just as confident heading into Year 2. But he said he's prepared to fight off Vick -- and whomever else the Jets might add -- for the starting gig.

"I'm 1,000 times more familiar with the offense and just what I'm asked to do [than] I was coming in as a rookie," he said Wednesday on ESPN Radio, adding that his mindset remains the same. "I'm going to compete as if I'm last on the depth chart."

In preparation for the draft, the Jets made 575 school visits, recorded over 3,500 player evaluations, wrote 1,372 player reports and attended 115 pro days. Save for a few tweaks here and there, Idzik said their draft board will pretty much be set by the weekend. And as a second-year GM, he's far more comfortable in his role. "This year we had somewhat of a template," Idzik explained, noting that several technological improvements have been made to their draft room. "So, yeah, there is a higher comfort level this year."

There is always the chance the Jets could trade up or down from No. 18. Or they could take a defensive player in the first round for the fifth straight season. "The nice thing about having 12 picks is it does give you flexibility and maneuverability within the draft," Idzik said.

And regardless of their strategy, the front office is confident they'll pick a winner in the first round.

Said Bradway: "We feel, if we stay at 18, that we'll have the ability to select a good player, somebody that can come in and help us win."

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