Mike Maccagnan only has a one year Draft history on which we can use to judge him. He has periodically made comments about broad philosophies he has for team building. Around one year ago as he approached his first Draft as an NFL general manager, Maccagnan talked about building the offensive line.
"I think historically when you look at teams that are successful, one of the things that they do in the draft is they find value in offensive linemen prospects that they can kind of groom and develop. They don’t have to always be high picks," he said. "A lot of teams are very successful building good offensive lines through the draft through picks from the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh round and sometimes even college free agents."
I think it is important to note that Maccagnan did not totally dismiss the idea of using early picks on the offensive line. Depending on later round picks to find a long term replacement for D'Brickashaw Ferguson would be a horrible strategy. It also probably would not work. The left tackle position is a premium spot on the field. The Jets need to find an elite prospect with high odds of success.
What about elsewhere on the line? I think Maccagnan is onto something here. A team really cannot build itself completely on first and second round picks and high end free agents. These players will make up the core of the roster. You do need to be able to find cheap quality starters with later picks, though.
Last year I took a look at where teams find All Pros by position. Elite guards were drafted lower than elite players at almost any other position. The median All Pro guard was selected with the 78th pick. That is in the third round. It was the only position where the median All Pro went in the third round based on my methodology.
This is where the coaching staff comes in. There are positions where developing players is easier than others. Players picked in the later rounds fall that far for any number of reasons. One of the most common is these players are not ready to play as rookies. They will require development. The best way to find a player at a given position in the late rounds is to frequently pick at that position.
Does Maccagnan's small track record indicate he likes to invest in offensive linemen later in the Draft? Through year one, the answer is yes. The Jets selected Jarvis Harrison in the fifth round of the 2015 Draft. Harrison was always fairly unlikely to see the field as a rookie. With the Jets in need of an improved offensive line, could he crack the starting lineup in year two and develop into a good player? It certainly would help the Jets to have an inexpensive internal candidate emerge.
In the meantime, will Maccagnan look to add more young talent on the offensive line? It is something to watch in the later rounds of the upcoming NFL Draft.