PHILADELPHIA — Even Mike Mayock isn’t sure what to make of this year’s NFL Draft.
“I’ve never seen a draft where there’s been more medical, character, late-breaking issues,” the NFL Network draft guru said Wednesday. “It’s the cloudiest first round I’ve ever been involved with.”
There are a few consensus can’t-miss prospects, including the likely No. 1 overall pick, Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, and LSU running back Leonard Fournette. But with so many talented players at several positions — and plenty of questions about the incoming quarterbacks — it’s hard for draft analysts to pin down what each team will do and which prospects are stars in the making.
The uncertainty makes things even more difficult for a team like the Jets, who have key needs to fill, quarterback included. And that’s the one area the organization just can’t seem to get right.
“They’ve made a lot of mistakes at the quarterback position over the last several years,” Mayock said. “And you’ve got to keep swinging. . . . If they think, with all their heart and soul, there’s a franchise quarterback sitting there at 6, that will start for them and lead them to a ton of victories in the next eight to 10 years, pull the trigger.
“Because if you don’t find one, you’re going to get fired anyway.”
Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan drafted a quarterback in each of the past two years but has yet to commit to Christian Hackenberg, his second-round pick last year, as his future starter.
The Jets will have plenty of quarterbacks to choose from Thursday night. But the question: Is any of them worth it? Mitchell Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes and DeShone Kizer come with potential red flags, whether it be a lack of experience, limited knowledge of a pro-style offense or consistency as a pocket passer. But none of them seems short on confidence.
At an NFL Draft event Wednesday at Shriners Hospital, Trubisky defended his ability and work ethic.
“When I get on the field, I just try to take advantage of the opportunity,” said the former North Carolina Tar Heel, who many believe will be the first quarterback off the board. “I started 13 games, but I played in 30. I’ve seen a lot of ball. . . . And when my number was called, I feel like I delivered.
“I didn’t get as many reps as some of the other guys, but I guarantee I’ve studied the same amount of tape, if not more, because I’m a student of the game and I love football.”
Watson helped lead Clemson to a national championship, but he’s been criticized for his decision-making and inconsistency. “I know there’s going to be a learning curve for myself and for all the prospects,” said Watson, who added that he had a private workout in mid-March with the Jets and the organization has since been “in touch a little bit.”
“That’s just the way it goes, regardless of what system you come from,’’ Watson said. “Everyone has that learning curve, and you just have to adjust to it.”
Mayock, though, isn’t entirely sold.
“If you feel 100 percent that there’s a guy there (then draft him) — but you better be sure,” Mayock said. “Don’t reach. If you’re reaching because you need one, then that’s the wrong reason.
“I, personally, think they are (reaches at No. 6), but I’m not in their room. They could believe very differently. They have to follow their own course. For me, they’re all reaches.”
If the Jets don’t snag a quarterback on Day 1, they’re expected to draft a defensive back to help their scuffling secondary. They have an obvious need at cornerback following Darrelle Revis’ release and a pressing need for a safety.
Mock drafts have linked the Jets to Ohio State corner Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State safety Malik Hooker and LSU safety Jamal Adams. While Mayock believes Hooker is a “sexier pick,” Hooker’s medical issues (he played through a torn labrum and a sports hernia) and his one season as a starter are potential red flags. Instead, Mayock said he would “bang the table” for Adams because he’s “one of the safest picks” in the draft.