What can we read into the fact that the Jets failed to pick up a QB during the 2017 NFL Draft? Does that mean the team believes in Christian Hackenberg? Does it mean the team just didn't believe that any QB offered value at the position?
The Jets had numerous opportunities to add to their QB stable during the draft, but decided to go in a different direction. They did add strong armed Tulsa QB Dane Evans to the mix as a UDFA, but interestingly they weren't tempted by a Watson at 6, or a Kizer/Peterman/Kaaya later on. Personally, I don't mind this strategy at all. When the college season finished, the 2017 NFL draft was considered a poor one for QB's. That didn't change between December and April.
Here is where the Jets stand at the most important position on the football field:
On the face of it, that's a rough QB stable to look at. McCown is a journeyman QB who's going to be 38 on opening day. He's on his 11th team in 14 years, starting 60 games in that timeframe. He's a veteran guy who can help some of the younger guys develop. By most accounts he's a strong film and work ethic guy, and he can win you game here and there, or at least not lose you one.
This year we have to see progress from Hackenberg. Last year it was understood from the start that it would be a red-shirt year for the young signal caller. His mechanics were a mess, he'd been through numerous offensive systems in his time at Penn State and was never able to find a rhythm outside of the Bill O'Brien year. You can give a 2nd round QB a year to learn the ropes...even today, where instant gratification is called for by ravenous fanbases all over the country. Now it's time to see what he's absorbed from watching from the sideline. You've done the theory, now it's time for the practical test.
Bryce Petty is an interesting one as he too was a project coming from the Baylor offense. He appeared in 6 games his second year and started 4 of them, the results were largely bad. He was a young player trying to lead a rather poor Jets offense, his season was cut short after suffering a shoulder injury to the Patriots and landing on IR. Petty seems like a great guy, but has anyone seen anything from him to suggest he can be an NFL QB? The word on Petty coming out of college was that he had good size, good leadership ability but struggled to read defenses thanks to the one-read system that Baylor operated, a system where the sideline made pre-snap adjustments. I've seen nothing to disprove that, and honestly...I'd be very surprised if he ever made it as an NFL QB.
Finally we come to a player who the Jets threw into the mix as a UDFA. Dane Evans was a 3 year starter at Tulsa, known as a guy with a strong arm and extremely impressive deep ball accuracy. He's a touch on the smaller side 6'0 and he does come from a system where he almost exclusively plays out of the shotgun in a one read offense. He did throw 32 TD to 12 INT this year while adding 4 TD's on the ground. He has some mobility within the pocket, but don't expect him to be busting 20+ yard runs on a regular basis. He does possess a short, quick release and good internal clock to get rid of the football, and as you can see...he can fire that football in there in a hurry. NFL.com named him as one of their sleepers
Check out his game against Oklahoma below
Many people thought the Jets would need to address the QB position in the draft. I'm quite happy they didn't. I know you can never look towards next year, but the 2018 QB draft class is shaping up to be a good one, actually...it's shaping up to be a great one. Now a lot can happen, and we've seen highly touted prospects fall flat within a year at college, but the Jets have a lot of work to do before they can compete for championships. The 2017 draft was a great start in my eyes.
2017 will see an open competition for the starting Job. McCown is getting the money, but Bowles has reiterated it'll be an open competition. I'm sure the team are hoping Hackenberg steps up and makes strides in his 2nd year, It certainly could happen despite all the negative comments that regularly find their way to the media about the young man. Evans is going to be an interesting guy to watch though, from what I've seen he has a lot of talent, but the step up to the NFL is huge at any position, none more so than at QB.