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New York Jets: What Positions Will Maccagnan Prioritize In The Draft?

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Are there identifiable tendencies in Mike Maccagnan's draft record?

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

With the 2017 NFL draft fast approaching Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan has some very important decisions to make. Who will be his targets early in the draft? The early picks generally define a general manager's success or failure. Hit big with some perennial Pro Bowl players and your tenure is likely to be a long and prosperous one. Strike out and, barring a lot of unlikely stars being found later in the draft, your tenure is likely to be brief and turbulent. So what kinds of players does Maccagnan favor early in the draft?  Let's take a look.

Mike Maccagnan only has a two year track record as an NFL general manager, far too brief a time to firmly establish any tendencies. However, Maccagnan spent every year of his NFL career prior to becoming the general manager of the New York Jets in 2015 with the Houston Texans organization. Maccagnan was there at the birth of the Texans, and he stayed for 13 years. It is probably safe to assume that some of the tendencies the Texans showed over those years were shared by Maccagnan. So let's look at what the Texans did with their premium picks in the first three rounds from 2002 through 2014 and what the Jets did from 2015 through 2016 and see if we can identify any tendencies.

Here is a chart identifying the football position of every premium draft pick in which Maccagnan ever had input in his NFL career.

Year

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

.

Texans

2002

QB

WR, OT

OG, DT

2003

WR

TE, RB

LB, OT, QB

2004

CB, EDGE

2005

DT

RB

2006

DE

LB

OG, OT

2007

DT

WR

2008

OT

CB, RB

2009

LB

EDGE

OG

2010

CB

RB

DT

2011

DE

EDGE, CB

2012

DE

WR, OG

2013

WR

S

OT, EDGE

2014

DE

OG

TE, DT

.

Jets

2015

DE

WR

EDGE

2016

LB

QB

EDGE

The first thing that jumps out is how heavily Maccagnan's teams have favored defense, and more particularly the defensive front, in the first round.  In 15 years of drafting 10 first round picks were spent on defensive linemen and linebackers.  Seven were spent on defensive linemen.  It's probably safe to say Maccagnan has a positional preference for defensive linemen in the first round.

On the offensive side of the ball only one quarterback was taken, David Carr, the first overall pick in the 2002 draft and the first ever pick of the Texans.  Probably not too much should be read into this, as the Texans were clearly heavily invested in Carr until 2006, then traded for Matt Schaub in 2007 and got good quarterback play from Schaub until 2013. Under the circumstances, for the large majority of Maccagnan's tenure with the Texans a first round quarterback just wasn't in the cards.

The only offensive position which saw multiple first round picks in Maccagnan's career was wide receiver.  Two wide receivers garnered first round picks.  Two more were second round picks, and another two were third round picks. It's probably safe to say Maccagnan values wide receivers highly and would not hesitate to use a premium pick on one.

Maccagnan's teams have used only one first round pick on an offensive lineman.  However, in the second and third rounds Maccagnan's teams have used a total of nine picks on offensive linemen.  This coincides with Maccagnan's often stated preference for building an offensive line from the middle rounds of the draft.

Given the premium status of cornerbacks in the NFL it is a bit surprising that Maccagnan's career has not featured many premium picks on cornerbacks.  Two first round picks and only four picks in the first three rounds over the last fifteen years have been spent on cornerbacks.

The positions that have never garnered a first round pick are as follows: tight end, safety, running back, and interior offensive line. Those positions should look familiar; they are some of the positions many of the premium players of the 2017 occupy.  Perhaps that is one reason Maccagnan has been so open about wanting to trade down.

Speaking of trading down, Maccagnan's teams have never traded completely out of the first round.  They have, however, had five out of fifteen years without a second round pick, adding fuel to the theory that the most likely area the Jets will trade down from is the second round of the 2017 draft. Overall Maccagnan's teams have had 16 first round picks, 13 second round picks and 21 third round picks, suggesting the third round is the most likely area where Maccagnan will add picks by trading down.

How the Jets will spend their premium picks in the 2017 draft likely will have much more to do with the talent available on the board at the time the Jets are on the clock than any overall draft tendencies Maccagnan has shown.  Nonetheless, some options seem more likely and some less likely given the track record.  A quarterback or wide receiver seem most likely in the first round if the pick is on offense.  Tight end and running back seem less likely.  On defense safety seems less likely, despite most mock drafts selecting a safety for the Jets.

What do you think Maccagnan will do with his premium picks?