I get the excitement. I do. The tabloids will all laud the move. The fan base will be fired up. The owner will sell plenty of PSL's. This was a very sexy move, the flashiest thing the team could have done. Mark Sanchez has a dynamic personality. The team can put him on billboards. He has handled being a star in a big market. USC is basically Los Angeles' pro team.
Sanchez has a chance to be a fine quarterback. He may not own elite attributes scouts love like arm strength and height, but he does know how to read a defense and is accurate, things that actually matter. He was my favorite quarterback in a weak Draft.
Here's the thing. The Jets just took a big and unnecessary risk and gave up a lot to take it. The team cannot address anything else on the first day of the Draft. Abram Elam had the potential to become a high quality player in an attack style defense. Kenyon Coleman was a quality starter for two years. This was in exchange for a roll of the dice.
The Jets now will give Sanchez a big contract and depend on him to develop into a star. The field's most important position will go to a total unknown. Sanchez is very raw. He only started 16 games in college and was not terribly consistent. He had not mastered the speed and complexity of college defenses. Asking him to step in and start right away could be too much. Considering the investment the team just made and the current state of the position, that is probably what will happen.
The Jets took Kellen Clemens three years ago and never ended up giving him a real chance to succeed. He started eight games with no running game and one of the league's worst offensive lines. Why give him a chance? The team clearly saw something in him to take him. If Clemens did not succeed, the team would have been in the same position in a year. The team could have gone back and taken a quarterback in what will likely be a deeper quarterback class. There are quarterbacks like Sanchez available every year. How about taking Michael Crabtree, a once in five year receiver prospect, to help Clemens out? How about getting two quality players in the first two rounds to build the roster? Championship caliber teams are not built on one player alone. That is why the Jets did not give up a ton of picks for Reggie Bush. It is why most of the readers of this site were opposed to giving up Darrelle Revis, David Harris, or Leon Washington to get Jay Cutler.
This move could work out. I will be happy to eat my words in a year as many Falcons fans did a year ago with Matt Ryan. This just seems like an unnecessary risk at this point, not the course of prudence. If it fails, the franchise will have problems for the next few years.