To draft a quarterback, or to not draft a quarterback: The New York Jets, yet again, face that decision. Some fans and commentators alike are arguing that choosing another one would mean general manager Mike Maccagnan is admitting he made a mistake in selecting Christian Hackenberg. Should a team actually operate that way?
Here are a couple examples of organizations drafting a second quarterback after previously investing a third-round pick or better in one.
- Carolina Panthers, 2011: The Panthers drafted Cam Newton No. 1 overall after choosing Jimmy Clausen in the second round a year earlier.
- Washington Redskins, 2012: After selecting Robert Griffin III No. 2 overall, it chose its current quarterback, Kirk Cousins, in the fourth round of the same draft.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2015: Two years after picking Mike Glennon in the third round, who some think the Jets should target this offseason, it took Jameis Winston No. 1 overall.
In addition, the Seattle Seahawks signed Matt Flynn to a three-year contract worth $20.5 million in 2012 to presumably be its starter. Nonetheless, third-round pick Russell Wilson has been the franchise player ever since. Moreover, Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, EJ Manuel and countless other first-round quarterbacks have been busts. The Titans, Vikings and Bills, who picked the aforementioned three, all have since found better quarterbacks. That’s true even if Tyrod Taylor leaves the Bills.
There are only two reasons the team should not draft another quarterback. One is it does not think highly of the available players. The other is that it believes it can develop Hackenberg. Sadly, few people likely have confidence it can do the latter.
Not choosing another one because you are afraid to admit you have concerns about Hackenberg and Bryce Petty would be a mistake. Simply put, there appears to be a reasonably high chance that neither player is the answer at the position.
Few people outside the team likely know how bad or good Hackenberg really is. Besides recent reports by local media sources that he “could not hit the ocean” and that “he will never make it,” little new information has been revealed since last August. That was the only time fans saw him play in a Jets uniform. After a touchdown drive in the third preseason game, he finished the preseason finale by going 11-for-31 for 54 yards. It was historically bad.
Despite this, if the team actually thinks he is the answer at the position and can be developed, then it should leave the 2017 NFL draft without another one. Only the people at One Jets Drive know if that is true, however.
Even if it did draft someone like Mitch Trubisky or Deshaun Watson, that does not mean they are instant starters. It also does not guarantee that Petty and Hackenberg will never see the field as Jets. It would surely imply that, but injuries happen, players don’t develop and a multitude of other reasons could keep them from starting the first game.
After all, many said that selecting Hackenberg last year meant the team had already given up on Petty. Yet had the Baylor product played well in his starts in 2016, he could have gone into 2017 as the team’s starter. The Denver Broncos just drafted a first-round quarterback, Paxton Lynch, but it did not keep 2015 seventh-round pick Trevor Siemian from being the main signal caller this season.
I don’t know if the Hackenberg experiment should be canceled. I do know, however, that continuing it for any reason other than that he will eventually be a competent starter is a bad idea.
Is saving face more important than getting the right player?
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