In this series, my intent is to try to get to the truth. I am going to try to be fair, and point out good moves as well as those I think are questionable. I'm going to try to point out when he didn't cave to temptation to make a big move, trade up, or didn't take a flawed player high even though that player was highly rated and would have addressed a position of need. If I miss something, I know I can count on you guys to set me straight.
More after the jump.
As many of you have pointed out, looking at the draft is hindsight for us fans. I would hasten to point out that it isn't so much for the GM AND his Scouting Dept. That is their job. They are the ones charged with figuring out who the most talented players are, but more than that, the players that will be the best fits in the Jets' schemes, players who love the game and give it their all, and the character and leadership issues cannot be ignored. With some players, the scouts have followed them for years. They have spoken with them, their teammates and former coaches. They have put some of the players through drills, questioned them, and watched them at the Combine and post season All-Star games like the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Bowl. Even though there are always some surprised, they should have a pretty good idea of which players will succeed and which ones won't.
It's hard for us on the outside to accurately determine what is the Scouting Dept. and what is the GM when it comes to the draft. On one hand, he should trust his Scouting Dept. On the other, he is supposed to be knowledgeable enough and have a discerning eye for himself. Still, there's little or no doubt that when a GM fails in a draft, the Scouting Dept. probably has to share in at least some part of the blame, unless he just totally ignores what they report to them.
That said, it is my understanding that scouts are just looking at talented players who might fit the systems in place with the team. The GM has to look at the big picture. He has to look at the team payroll structure years ahead. He has to evaluate whether current players figure in their future plans. He has to figure out where the cap dollars will go. He has to look at both future potential draft classes and future FA classes to try to determine what help might be available, and plan his current FA and draft moves accordingly. (This is info we never have which makes us have to evaluate things in hindsight.) It isn't an easy job. Regardless, the buck stops with the GM. He hires the scouts, player personnel people, the coaches and makes the final decision on whom is drafted and which players are traded for or signed as FAs. If the Scouting Dept. screws up and he follows their advice, he gets the blame. The only ways we have of evaluating GMs are the W-L record of the team, the caliber of the team he has assembled, AND the players he pass on in FA and the draft.
FA: The Jets FAs were RB BJ. Askew, DE Dave Ball, OT Anthony Clement, RB James Hodgins, DT Rashad Moore, TE Sean Ryan, C Wade Smith and LB Cody Spencer. They re-signed Clement, Ryan, Smith and Spencer. They released Patrick Ramsey and Curtis Martin retired.
The FAs the Jets signed were: Marques Tuiasosopo, Andre Wadsworth, and Michael Haynes. Wadsworth and Haynes didn't make it into the season and Tuiasosopo never threw a pass. I couldn't find any cap info, but assume they must have been tight up against the cap as both Wadsworth and Haynes were cheaper signings and never made the team. Tuiasosopo was a career backup and fairly cheap. Whatever cap room they must have had must have gone to Thomas Jones.
Other QBs who were available in 2007 were: Matt Schaub, Tim Rattay, Jeff Garcia, Drew Bledsoe, Aaron Brooks, Rohan Davey, Brad Johnson, Shaun King, John Navarre and Anthony Wright. I sure hope they were tight up against the cap, because if they had the cap space, Matt Schaub could and perhaps should have been the Jets QB of the future. Also, Jeff Garcia was a very good QB. They still had Chad, so probably were only looking for a backup, and I'm sure Garcia would have wanted a starting job. He was with Tampa Bay in 2007-2008 (started), then back with Philly in 2009. He apparently was out of the NFL in 2010, but was with Houston this past season. 2007 was Chad's last season with the Jets. If the Jets had the cap space, I can understand not signing Schaub, as Chad was their guy, but with his already having been seriously injured at least once and probably twice, I think they would have been much better served bringing in either Schaub or Garcia even though I was a Chad fan. I'm not sure they even expressed any interest in either of them.
Trades: In a salary dispute, they traded OL Pete Kendall to the Washington Redskins for their 5th round pick. That, imo, was the first major mishandling of the roster in general and OL in particular. As the Adrien Clarke reign of error at OG (disaster) was soon to begin. An OG should have been drafted or the Jets should have signed a veteran FA. Floyd Womack and Erich Steinbach were available. Without the trade for Jones, the Jets would have had the money to sign one of them or one of the other FAs (I'm not sure which are OGs and which are OTs or Cs): Jordan Black, Dwayne Carswell, Kris Dielman, Derrick Dockery, Chris Gray, Norm Katnik, Ryan Lilja, Sean Locklear, Damion McIntosh, Roman Oben, and Brian Rimpf. Any one of those guys would have had to have been better than Clarke.
They also acquired Thomas Jones from the Chicago Bears in an exchange of 2nd round picks. At the time, I thought that was a creative and excellent deal and a very good deal for the Jets, as the Jets' rushing offense was one of the worst in the NFL in 2006. I think most Jets fans probably still think that was an excellent trade. I wonder what they will think after they see this. The problem is that if the Jets hadn't made that trade, they would have been picking at #37. See below to see what players they missed by making that trade. In retrospect, that trade really hurt the team. Jones was a pretty good player, a solid citizen and leader for the Jets, but not only did he cost them one of the players they could have taken at #37, but due to his contract also probably prevented the team from signing a FA OG to replace Kendall instead of Adrien Clarke, or possibly even from signing Jeff Garcia or Matt Schaub. Also, RB is THE easiest position for a rookie to come in and play at a high level. Acquiring a veteran RB isn't necessary to upgrade the rushing attack.
Draft: The Jets only had picks in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th & 6th rounds. Their 4th round pick went to SF in 2006 for Kevan Barlow. The Jets' 7th round pick had gone to Green Bay in 2005 for OL Steve Morley. The Jets also had additional 6th (from Carolina in the Revis Trade) and 7th round (from Detroit for Jon McGraw) picks. They traded their original 6th to Dallas for DB Pete Hunter on April 16, 2007 and their original 7th to Dallas for TE Sean Ryan on August 31, 2006. The 4 picks the Jets had in this draft were the fewest in franchise history.
The Jets traded their #1 (25th), #2 (59th), and #5 (164) picks to the Carolina Panthers for their #1 (14th) and #6 (191st) picks. With the #14 pick they took Darrelle Revis. The Jets paid a pretty big price to move up, but Revis has been worth it.
The Jets later traded their other 2nd round pick (63rd) , their 3rd (89th and the 6th they acquired from Carolina in the Revis trade to Green Bay for the Packers 2nd (47th) and 7th round (235th) picks. With the 47th pick, the Jets took David Harris. Harris has been a very good player for the Jets, but he is slow and I think he is a bit overpaid for his actual production. As mentioned earlier, had the Jets not traded for Thomas Jones, they could have had LaMarr Woodley at OLB and they wouldn't have had to overpay for Pace in 2008. I would rather have Woodley than Harris. That also means the Jets would have had more cap space in 2008 to address needs and wouldn't have the cap issues they have this year or have had for the last couple of years because of Pace's exorbitant contract.
It is also worth mentioning, however, that the Panthers took Ryan Kalil at pick #59. He is considered a very solid center. So, while I'm glad the Jets got Revis and probably also Harris, if the Jets had waited until 2007 to address their OL, they could have added Joe Staley and Ryan Kalil with the same trade up in the first as for Revis,but probably a good bit cheaper to move up just a few spots to take Kalil. Had the Jets gone that way, they could have nabbed Haloti Ngata and DeMeco Ryans in 2006. I think Ngata is definitely the equal of Revis at his position and Ryans, if not equal, is very close, so the point could arguably be made that the Jets would be better off with Ngata, Ryans, Staley and Kalil than with Revis, Harris, Ferguson and Mangold. Staley is also a Pro Bowl LT, and is probably better blocking in the rushing attack than Ferguson. Ryans is definitely better than Harris. Mangold is probably better than Kalil, although Kalil was also a Pro Bowler, and Ngata and Revis are a wash or maybe Revis has a slight edge.
The Jets had traded their 4th round pick in this draft to SF in 2006 for Kevan Barlow, who lasted only one season in NY and was a total waste (rushed for only 370 yards, a 2.8 ypc avg).
With their 6th round pick, the Jets select OT Jacob Bender. With that pick they could have selected either K Nick Folk (LOL) or K Mason Crosby. I would rather have Crosby. The Jets probably wouldn't have had any kicking issues had they gone that route.
With the 7th round pick they got from Carolina, the Jets selected WR Chansi Stuckey. I think this was a very good pick. That said, the Jets also could have had either Jason Snelling or Ahmad Bradshaw. With Bradshaw, the Jets wouldn't have had to trade up to get Greene in 2009. Had they spotted his potential, they also wouldn't have had to make that trade for Thomas Jones, which in turn caused them to miss out on other talent. I think most football fans would say that Bradshaw is a better RB than Greene. With Snelling, the Jets could have used the 5th round pick they used on John Conner in 2010 elsewhere.
Players by-passed in taking Revis: Jon Beason OLB (not really a fit), Anthony Spencer DE/OLB, Robert Meachem WR, Ben Grubbs OG and Joe Staley OT. None approach Revis.
Players by-passed in trading for Thomas Jones: SS Eric Weddle (eliminates a huge hole in the secondary and greatly lessens their inability to cover TEs and RBs over the middle), TE Zach Miller (which would mean they wouldn't have had to trade up for Keller), CB Chris Houston (which means they wouldn't have had to trade a 2nd to SD for Cromartie in 2010), WR Sidney Rice or DE/OLB LaMarr Woodley (wouldn't have had to overpay for Calvin Pace in 2008).
Players by-passed in trading their 4th round pick (#124) to SF for Kevan Barlow in 2006: Jermon Bushrod (Pro Bowl OT for the Saints), Dashon Goldson (another Pro Bowler who some here would like the Jets to sign as a FA), TE Scott Chandler, FB Le'Ron McClain, WR Steve Breaston, TE Kevin Boss, TE Brent Celek, OT Clint Oldenburg, WR Legedu Naanee
In fairness, this is a bit of cherry picking,as there are a lot of names from the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th rounds of that draft that either are just backups in the NFL or are no longer in the NFL as far as I know. Some of you might recognize the names of some good players or starters for other teams from among those names that I missed. Still, the point remains that there was talent to be had. Any one of those players I mentioned above in the 4th or 5th round would eliminate a hole on the Jets today. That's a LOT of talent that Tanny and/or the Jets' Scouting Dept. missed out on because of the stupid trade for Kevan Barlow who had never been that good. Imagine bookend OTs like Ferguson or Staley and Bushrod or Oldenburg. Imagine Weddle and Goldson as the Safeties. Imagine any of those TEs and NO Matt Mulligan. Imagine a speedy field stretching WR like Breaston or Naanee instead of Holmes (plus the player the Jets could have gotten with the 5th round pick they used to acquire Holmes from the Steelers). McClain is a Pro Bowler and much better than Conner.
No, Tanny and the Jets' Scouting Dept. wasn't the only team to miss some of those players, but there were a number of teams who didn't miss. Undoubtedly, some of that may have been luck, but there was some skill involved as well. Saying that it's ok that the Jets missed out because other teams did too doesn't make sense to me. That leaves the Jets average or mediocre. You should want our GM and Scouting Dept. to be above average, to be one of the ones that more consistently finds those gems in a bad draft. The Jets could have actually traded down in this draft and acquired some of the players named above.