FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — With the No. 3 pick in Thursday’s NFL Draft, the Jets’ general manager joked on Monday about taking a safety.
Mike Maccagnan already has done that, drafting two talented safeties last spring. This time he is on the clock like never before to get a quarterback. To get the opportunity, he moved up from No. 6 by giving the Colts two second-round selections in 2018 and a second-round pick in 2019.
The pressure on Maccagnan is enormous, even though he tried to downplay it in a 25-minute chat with reporters.
“You feel the pressure to be successful,” he said. “But you push it to the side and almost try to operate in a vacuum. I think when you make decisions, you have to do that. You have to make sure you get it right.”
He wouldn’t say whom the Jets will pick, but it’s apparent that they are leaning toward a quarterback. They held private workouts with Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen and Josh Allen, and Sam Darnold visited them. Maccag nan attended each one’s pro day, and if you count Lamar Jackson, the Jets met with nearly all of the top quarterbacks.
In the previous three years, Maccagnan drafted two quarterbacks, Bryce Petty (fourth round, 2015) and Christian Hackenberg (second round, 2016). Petty is 1-6 as a starter. Hackenberg has not played in a regular-season game.
Maccagnan was noncommittal about Petty or Hackenberg being on the roster for OTAs next month. A rookie quarterback most likely would push either or both out the door, with projected starter Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater remaining at the top of the depth chart.
“Everybody is going to see them maybe a little bit differently, but you’re always going to have your opinion on them,” he said. “You try to be as objective as possible and then try to go through your process.”
Maccagnan did well with safety Jamal Adams, last year’s first-round pick, and his 2015 first-rounder, defensive end Leonard Williams. Darron Lee, the 2016 first-rounder, is a starting inside linebacker, but he has been inconsistent.
Maccagnan understands that this might be his last chance to solve the Jets’ quarterback problem. Whether he gets the quarterback right might define his tenure with the Jets. The fans want a franchise QB, and in a draft rich with potential at the position, the pressure to get one has increased.
“It feels stressful wherever you’re picking,” he said. “I’ve been associated with teams [the Texans] that had the first pick in the draft and you feel pressure, but you feel pressure wherever you are. I think you realize you never know what decision you may make that will impact the organization’s future. You look at it and make sure you’re objective.”