Derek Dimino, Staff Writer |
For the New York Jets, the 2016 season went from hopeful to hopeless real fast. If the 5-11 result of last year’s season wasn’t enough, the departure of three talented veterans, and two of their Quarterbacks, have further spurred on the Jets necessity to re-build their struggling franchise, starting with their signal caller.
After surprising the NFL by finishing the 2015 season with a 10-6 record, only falling short of the wildcard by one game, the Jets were poised for 2016 to build on what they had started. Because Quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick had only signed a one year deal prior to 2015, the first hurdle New York faced last year was getting the right man under center.
Unfortunately for both parties, the Jets and Fitzpatrick were unable to compromise on a deal at the beginning of the 2016 free-agent period. Fitzpatrick signed on the team-set July 27 deadline, resulting in an unprepared offense, lacking chemistry in the passing game and proper leadership under center.
With no intentions of repeating last year’s free-agent saga at Quarterback, the Jets will most likely have their 2017 passer by the end of this year’s draft. With little opportunity in free-agency, the Jets will most likely be forced to settle on a draft pick or on an in-house Quarterback while they work on using their nearly $30 million in cap-space on other positional upgrades (though few worthy free-agents remain on the table).
Currently the Jets house three Quarterbacks, two of which they’ve drafted in the last two years; young Christian Hackenberg out of Penn State and struggling Bryce Petty who was unimpressive after taking over the starting role at the end of last season and recently signed veteran Josh McCown.
In the three games Petty started before getting hurt, he threw five interceptions to only two touchdowns, and averaged only 218 passing yards per game. McCown on the other hand, has been a starter on and off throughout his 14-year career. While he hasn’t done much to help his team over the past few years, he was playing on the Browns, so it’s not entirely his fault.
Riddled with injuries, McCown has yet to play an entire season as a starter. Regardless of his health, he has been widely inconsistent, completing under 60 percent of his passes and posting only 79 career touchdowns to his 69 interceptions. That aside, he has big arm capabilities and is willing to lay his body on the line, though it hasn’t always been to his benefit.
For Quarterbacks, the transition from college to the NFL is exceptionally difficult, and Hackenberg has been no exception. Drafted in the second round, Hackenberg was not ready to be the teams head signal-caller at the beginning of the last season. Even with much turmoil at Quarterback, he still wasn’t ready to be given the reigns by the end of the atrocious 2016 season.
If the Jets decide to fill the position in this year’s draft, they have plenty of options in each round. Though scouts have not been entirely impressed by the top ranked field generals in the 2017 class, the Jets are positioned nicely to take Mitchell Trubisky, DeShone Kizer or Deshaun Watson in the first two rounds.
With so much uncertainty surrounding Trubisky, Kizer and Watson, the Jets may find it in their best interest to wait until the later rounds to pick up a Quarterback, while using their early picks on players and positions that can more clearly adjust to the pro competition. They can probably pick up strong-armed Patrick Mahomes II or Davis Webb in the second-round, or Brad Kaaya, Chad Kelly or Josh Dobbs who offer dual-threat capabilities, on the third day; so drafting a Quarterback late may give them more bang for their buck.
With two young Quarterbacks on the roster and low expectations for the season, the Jets have an opportunity to give their young Quarterbacks plenty of starting experience. With McCown now on their roster, he can act as veteran mentor for these two QB’s, while stepping in when the pressure becomes too much. This could also act as a parameter to see if Hackenberg or Petty are capable of not only being a full time starting Quarterback, but also becoming the Jets Quarterback of the future.
With many questions still to be answered on the Jets roster and over a month until the 2017 draft, the Quarterback landscape in New York is still far from formed. While the Jets may want a Quarterback to start building their team around, their best option may be playing with what they have for the 2017 season and then drafting a stud like USC’s Sam Darnold in the 2018 draft.
Depending on the Jets confidence in Hackenberg’s progression from his rookie year, combined with Petty’s inability to create any type of production, Josh McCown may be the starter going into the 2017 off-season.