Nobody knows for sure what the Jets will do with the No. 3 pick of Thursday’s NFL Draft.
Well, at least general manager Mike Maccagnan has a pretty good idea. He’s got his draft board ready, with nearly 200 players listed, including a firm top 10 of prospective picks in order.
Maccagnan, like other Jets officials, won’t say which position the team is leaning toward, but several player agents and NFL personnel people believe the Jets will take a quarterback.
The last time they drafted one in the first round was Mark Sanchez in 2009. The Jets have drafted six in the first round, and only one, Joe Namath, took them to a Super Bowl. Ken O’Brien, Richard Todd and Sanchez had a fair amount of success but couldn’t bring the franchise another championship.
The Jets can’t afford another mistake at the quarterback position.
“Anyone involved in this process is going to see [the prospect] maybe a little bit differently, but you’re always going to have your opinion on him,” Maccagnan said. “You just want to get it right. A lot of jobs have a lot of pressure in them, but you put that to the side.”
The Jets are interested in four quarterbacks, and in what order they rank them is unknown. They conducted private workouts with Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen, and held on-site visits with them and Sam Darnold. The Jets also met with Lamar Jackson at the NFL Scouting Combine.
On Wednesday, Darnold said he met with some of the Jets’ quarterbacks, including current starter Josh McCown, and has gotten advice from Sanchez.
“He just said to be yourself,” Darnold said. “Just know that you’re the face of the franchise. Some of the advice he gave me, I’ll keep it between me and him.”
Allen, the 6-5, 237-pounder from Wyoming, said he had only one private workout, and that was with the Jets.
Mayfield and Rosen have been linked to the Jets for several weeks.
The Browns have the No. 1 and No. 4 picks, and it’s assumed they will take a quarterback first. The Browns have been searching for one almost as long as the Jets have, and are expected to take Darnold or Allen.
The Giants, at No. 2, have a franchise quarterback in 37-year- old Eli Manning, who is signed through 2019. Could the Giants select a quarterback at No. 2 over Penn State running back Saquon Barkley or North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb?
The Giants might be the wild card here. If the quarterbacks the Jets deemed 1-2 are off the board, they will be down to their third-rated quarterback. Will the Jets be picking between Mayfield and Rosen? Allen and Mayfield? Darnold and Rosen? Mayfield and Darnold? Allen and Darnold?
The Broncos at No. 5 and Bills at No. 12 are also seeking quarterbacks. Broncos executive John Elway wanted Mayfield to play in the Senior Bowl, and he did. The Bills already have made a trade to move up. Will they do it again, and would the Giants be willing partners?
“You never probably truly know, but you always hear a lot of stuff and you follow that,” Maccagnan said. “You can only focus on what you can control. I am sure there will be lots of conversations among many teams as we get closer to the draft, and we will see what happens.”
All the top quarterback prospects are saying the right things about playing for the Jets. Being the No. 1 pick is an honor but not the be-all and end-all.
“My game is not to get picked as high as possible,” Rosen said Wednesday. “My game is to go to the right team. Success is long term. I’d rather have [sixth-rounder] Tom Brady’s career than get picked first overall and have a four-year career.”
Maybe Rosen is perfect for the Jets. Maybe Mayfield is, too. Darnold? Allen?
“You have an order, so of course you like your order,” Maccagnan said. “If you get one, two or three, you may feel good about all of them. You don’t try and put all of your focus on one or another. You just make sure you get them right. You feel comfortable with it and you’re ready to go.”
With Bob Glauber
Too Good to Pass Up
The Jets have selected six quarterbacks in the first round:
2009: Mark Sanchez, USC (5th overall)
Led Jets to AFC Championship Game in his first two seasons, losing both. Record of 33-29 in four seasons as a starter.
2000: Chad Pennington, Marshall (18th). In eight years with the Jets, he went 32-29 as a starter. He didn’t make any Pro Bowls but he was more than serviceable.
1983: Ken O’Brien, Cal-Davis (24th)
Picked over Dan Marino, who turned into a Hall of Famer. O’Brien was named to two Pro Bowls.
1976: Richard Todd, Alabama (6th)
More noted for his five-INT game in the famed Mud Bowl loss to the Dolphins in the 1982 AFC Championship Game.
1965: Joe Namath, Alabama (1st)
Hall of Famer who guaranteed Super Bowl III victory.
1962: Sandy Stephens, Minnesota (5th)
Jets wanted to move him to running back, but he declined and played QB in the CFL. Tony Dungy said Stephens inspired many African-American quarterbacks to keep dreaming.