It is difficult to evaluate Mike Maccagnan’s body of work prior to being hired as the New York Jets General Manager. We know he spent a decade as a scout, got promoted to Assistant Director of College Scouting in 2010 and then moved up to Director in 2011 after Houston’s draft. We don’t know the inner workings of Houston’s organization or which decisions ultimately came down to him. However, let’s guess he had a notable say in their 2010 and 2011 picks along with an even more substantial say in their picks from 2012-2014. Here is a quick overview of those years followed by a few thoughts on Maccagnan overall and how the Jets front office and scouting department could be built around him…
The Texans drafts in 2010 and 2011, when Maccagnan was Assistant Director, were highlighted by JJ Watt and a handful of solid mid and late round decisions. 2010 first rounder Kareem Jackson has been a steady starter at corner, second rounder Ben Tate had a few quality years at running back, tight end Garrett Graham was nice find in the fourth round and Derek Newton has developed into a good right tackle despite being a seventh round pick. Quarterback TJ Yates is a 5th rounder who won a playoff game and is considered a competent backup. Linebacker Brooks Reed has been average as a second rounder, with the Texans likely letting him walk this offseason. There is also a handful of mid and late round whiffs in both those years. On the whole, they are probably league average but boosted by taking arguably the best player in the NFL.Since Maccagnan was moved to Director, the Texans had 27 picks. They broke down as: 8 defensive lineman, 6 offensive lineman, 4 wide receivers, 2 tight ends, 2 safeties, 1 cornerback, 1 kicker, 1 quarterback, 1 running back and 1 fullback.
The positives? The Texans have an offensive line built with mid and late round picks. We already mentioned Newton (who could be a Jets FA target this offseason) but 3rd rounder Brandon Brooks and 4th rounder Ben Jones have developed into quality starters as well. 2013 first round pick DeAndre Hopkins is one of the better young receivers in football. DJ Swearinger has shown a few flashes as a second round safety and this year’s fifth rounder Alfred Blue racked up nearly 650 yards of offense. 2012 Late round picks, Jared Crick and Randy Bullock came on to have solid seasons in 2014.
The negatives? 2012 first rounder Whitney Mercilus has been the Texans version of Quinton Coples, flashing at times but not living up to his draft spot yet. The receivers outside of Hopkins (DeVier Posey, Keshawn Martin and Alex Bonner) haven’t done anything. There has been minimal production after the first two picks from the 2013 class.
The unknowns? 2014. It is easy to rip the Jadeveon Clowney pick in hindsight but it was the logical pick and let’s see how his career pans out. Beyond that, mid-rounders Xavier Su’a Filo, CJ Fiedorowicz and Louis Nix were considered good value where they were selected and despite quiet rookie years could be impact players down the road.So, what does all that mean? It is nearly impossible to say. Those picks go on Texans GM Rick Smith’s resume more so than Maccagnan’s. The Texans draft strategy was impacted by their coaching staff and team needs so it is hard to project how he translates to New York.
It will be interesting to see how the Jets restructure their front office and scouting department. Maccagnan does not have experience negotiating contracts. There were rumblings somebody like Mark Dominik could be brought in for a role there but that talk has quieted down lately. The Jets may keep Rod Graves on board instead, who is currently running things while this search wraps up. From a scouting perspective, major changes may not take place until after the NFL Draft. Nobody knows what will happen with Terry Bradway but the Jets current infrastructure in college and pro personnel is unlikely to look anywhere near the same by the time this season starts.