Mike Maccagnan is in his 4th year as GM of the New York Jets which is enough time to make make preliminary conclusions about his reign of command. Each year is a microcosm of his total effectiveness as a leader of our team so I want to give proper due diligence to every year individually. Lets start quite literally from the beginning...
Mike Maccagnan is a graduate of Trinity College in Connecticut where he played football and earned a bachelors degree in economics. He grew up in Highstown N.J. about an hour south of the Jets facility in Florham Park. He joined the team from Washington DC as an intern in the scouting department in 1990; the same year coincidentally I started scouting football as well (on a much more non professional level). He spent time (in a scouting capacity) in the CFL, with the team from DC and finally with the Texans.
He was hired as the New York Jets GM on Jan.13 2015. Todd Bowles was hired as the new coach the next day, it was written that Maccagnan had a say in his hiring. Maccagnan replaced John Idzik who was a said to have a strong business knowledge but a poor eye for talent. Maccagnan was said to be the antithesis of this and came highly recommended by his former boss Charlie Casserly.
"Mike Maccagnan is an outstanding football man, one who is highly organized and an excellent evaluator" Casserly said. He beat out such candidates as John Robinson (my choice at the time) who is now the GM at the Titans.
I can't say I was dismayed by the hiring of Maccagnan, in fact I liked both Maccagnan and Todd Bowles hirings. I would have preferred Robinson and Dan Quinn but Quinn was in the Super Bowl so we couldn't hire him until February. People were worried that Quinn was not going to have time to get ready for the draft and that all the good assistant coaches would be gone once Quinn was available. I guess that was all just foolishness as Quinn has done quite well since.
What interested me was that Maccagnan came from a strong scouting background something our former GM John Idzik had no idea about. He was said to be instrumental in some of the Texans best draft picks even though GM Rick Smith was said to do poorly during the draft.
Mike Maccagnan took over from John Idzik with a roster with little talent but a boatload of cap space. The 2014 draft is one of the worst memories in my Jets life (that has lasted over 50 years) in that the draft that year was loaded with talent; one of the best, deepest drafts in decades. The Jets were armed with 12 picks that were totally wasted by our GM (Idzik). While other teams today are having a hard time trying to resign some of these players to fat new contracts the Jets only have little used (if ever) Dakota Dozier and 6th round pick Quincy Enunwa (back after missing all of 2017) to show for the entire draft. Idzik even foolishly traded away a 2015 6th round pick on Percy Harvin when the Jets were out of the playoff race with a 1-7 record. Eight million in cap space was wasted there and more was wasted when he signed Jeremy Kerley to a 4year/ $16 million contract extension which was super exorbitant for a little slot receiver in 2014. He was later released the next year in a another misuse of cash.
Mike Maccagnan started his Jets career by spending cap space like a drunken Eagles owner at the blackjack table. He gave Darrelle Revis (who was never the same after his knee injury) $39 million guaranteed, middling talent Buster Skrine $13 million guaranteed. He signed Marcus Gilbert and a 31 year old Antonio Cromartie to big contracts. Meanwhile he signed Damon Snacks Harrison to a 2nd round tender contract of $2.4 Million for one year instead of using that money to sign him to an extension. Harrison was a under appreciated keystone of the Jets defense and should have been a priority, he could have been signed to a fraction of what he makes now in 2015.
Then there was the Ryan Fitzpatrick saga; but first some history of Fitz...
In October 2011, the Bills were 4-2 and appeared to be on their way to their first playoff appearance in 12 years, thanks in large part to the play of Fitzpatrick. Fitz had played well the previous season and was off to a good start in 2011 with 12 touchdown passes in the first six games.During their bye week that season, the Bills and Fitzpatrick finalized a six-year, $59 million contract extension that included a $10 million signing bonus.
Then Ryan Fitzpatrick started playing like Ryan Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick and the Bills won just two of their final 10 games that season, and then in the first year of his new contract, the Bills went 6-10. After the season, the Bills cut Fitzpatrick, meaning he was paid just $17.8 million of the $59 million contract. Prior to the 2013 season, Fitzpatrick signed a 2-year, $6.5 million contract with the Tennessee Titans but was cut after just one season (9 starts). He made $3.3 million that season.
Before the 2014 season, Fitzpatrick signed a two-year, $7.3 million contract with the Texans as a free agent. However, that was before the Texans traded for Ryan Mallett from the New England Patriots, and it looked like Fitzpatrick was to be cut after the season having made just $4 million of his contract. Fitzpatrick amazingly was still being paid by 3 teams at the time Texans $3.375M, $7M Bills and $875K Titans. . Maccagnan caused his own headache when he traded for Ryan Fitzpatrick from the Texans in March of 2015. This is the same Ryan Fitzpatrick who had started over 7 games in a year 7 times before the trade but had 101 interceptions and 53 fumbles
Maccagnan came from the Texans and of course knew the front office personnel. Fitzpatrick had ended the 2014 season by breaking his leg. The Texans thought so highly of him the signed Brian Hoyer to replace his spot on the team. The Texans were happy to get anything for Fitzpatrick and to get a conditional 6th round pick was heaven sent
Maccagnan could have easily went to the Texans and told them that before we trade I would like to know that Fitzpatrick was open to an additional (team) option year on his contract. Fitzpatrick would of had scant few suitors outside of the Jets in 2015. I mean if he had left the Jets after 2015 he would have been shown the door by four teams in four seasons and he had little success before joining gang green. This oversight lead to the dark cloud over the franchise in the offseason when no one knew who our QB was going to be. Fitz held out until July 28th but his signing didn't alleviate the discord the holdout caused. That debacle (and the cap space spending spree) led to the Jets treating D'Brick like garbage (a man who missed 1 snap in 10 years).
Nor did he sign Mo Wilkerson to an extension or trade him when he had the opportunity. Instead he waited until the situation reached a boiling point giving him $37 million over two years of what was a $86 million contract and leaving $9 million in dead money once he was released.
A good GM has to see the big picture and look ahead and plan for the future. Maccagnan was said to have little to no knowledge about the business side of the NFL, he probably should have hired a former GM to be an assistant to guide him in this area and take care of contract issues. He does get a bit of reprieve in this situation because Idzik also did little to solve Mo the problem. Overall there was a drastic lack of leadership and forward thinking on the personnel end.
Maccagnan was said to do a good job building the managerial side of his house (ie scouts and business execs) but it did little to help the product on the field.
But Maccagnan was brought here for the draft and we can look at his selections closer now that they have been in the league for four years. I will give you Maccagnan's picks with my commentary and what I was thinking while the draft was unfolding (I have this stuff written down).
Side note: The NFL draft has been a passion of mine since 1990, a hobby that seems to grow in size every year. As I get older I have more time to spend on the draft. As a for instance I have spent over 100 hours on the 2019 draft already and that is probably understating the truth. I watch film like a junkie with an endless supply of drugs. These are my actual picks as the draft unfolds. I did not change them over time; I have no reason to do that as I have no desire to impress anyone. I prepare endlessly before the draft and when I pick for the Jets I own them, Iv'e always done it this way it is how I improved my process and my skill in the draft.
2015 NFL Draft
1/6th/pick/#6 the New York Jets select DT Leonard Williams USC 6'5 303 lbs
An excellent pick in my opinion, he was a perfect 5 tech with future Pro Bowl ability and a great kid who will be an asset to the Jets; that is also very important in my draft grades.
My pick was the same, I would have taken Williams as soon as the 5th pick was read.
I was planning on trading down with Cleveland (if possible) and Collecting picks #12, 19 and 189. Cleveland had 3 6th round picks that year and I was trying to replace the 6th round pick that Idzik wasted on Percy Harvin. I will call this my alternate draft scenario that I had scoped out before the draft.
I wanted to draft
#12) Todd Gurley RB Georgia He ended up going #10 to the Rams which I didn't think would happen with him coming off knee surgery the season before. If I had traded and Gurley was gone I would have taken Melvin Gordon from Wisconsin who I was also high on; just not as much so. We haven't had a strong running back since Thomas Jones left and I think that is a great starting point for a rebuilding franchise. Someone you can count on to get you yards, he can't be the only weapon but he is nice to have with a young QB and a fledgling offense.
#19) Marcus Peters CB Washington who I thought would be the new Revis in time but he was selected the pick before at #18. I also had Landon Collins rated very high and I would have taken him here but we had selected (poorly I might add) Calvin Pryor the year before and they play the same position. You see previous poor draft selections haunt you for years in many different ways.You don't select a stud because of a bum you drafted the year before.
My next player I would have taken was Andrus Peat but he was selected #13 by the Saints. I would have ended up taking Benardrick McKinney ILB Miss st 6' 4" 246 to be the replacement for an aging David Harris.
In the end none of that happened and I would have not traded down with Williams there.
I gave Maccagnan an A for his 1st pick as the Jets GM.
2/5/37- The Jets select Devin Smith WR Ohio st 6' 0" 196lbs
I totally hated this pick on numerous levels.
1st) I thought Smith was a one trick pony who could only run posts and "9" routes. He was fast but weak and would struggle against press coverage. He had 1 year with more than 33 receptions and he played on an all star team with numerous weapons and a devastating rushing attack which is perfect for a field stretcher like Smith.
2nd) I loved Tre McBride coming out of William and Mary. He was fast, a great kid and he could be had in the 6th round or later. It was not just me; he was a darling in the draft community and if you wanted a deep threat he was yours in the later rounds. He was raw but so was Smith and that is why you have WR coaches on your team.
3rd) It is a waste of assets to use a high pick on a unrefined receiver who lacks route running skill on a rebuilding franchise. I am old school but you build a team from the line back (other than the QB). Stabilize both sides of the ball on the line (offense and defense) then you secure RB's and LB"s while adding some quality DB's along the way. The field stretching one trick pony is the last guy I would add.
I had Bedardrick McKinney as a late 1st round talent and would have used our 2nd round pick on him. If I had already picked him (as in my alternate draft scenario) I would have taken Ronald Darby CB FSU 5' 11" 193 lbs. I had Darby rated above (as a CB) Byron Jones (who I thought would be a FS) and Jalen Collins and also Eric Rowe (who I also thought would be a FS). Darby wasn't Revis worthy but I thought he would be a solid boundary corner.
The pick 2/5/37 for Devin Smith was a resounding F for me. We will never know how good Smith might have been without the horrible injuries but I believe the pick was wasted on a player who would never live up to his drafted level.
The Jets traded pick # 3/6/70 to the Texans for picks # 3/18/82 + 5/16/152 + 7/12/229
For a draft junkie like me this trade was an outstanding A+. To pick up 3 picks for 1 while replacing the 5th round pick used in the Brandon Marshall trade was outstanding. We only traded down 12 slots and added huge draft capital, which was excellent. Some people would scoff at a 5th and 7th round pick but I view them as gold. I would have made this trade in a heartbeat. The only player I liked who was taken between 70 and 82 was Duke Johnson and he is more of a gadget, 3rd down back who is too small to carry a heavy load on the offense. I would have loved to draft him but I would have liked the picks more.
I should also mention the trade to get Brandon Marshall from the Bears for a 5th round pick was excellent. I give it an A, it's not an A+ because Marshall had a limited shelf life and we were trying to build a team from the ground up. He was a positive locker room presence (for a year anyway) and helped younger receivers along the way.
3/18/82- the Jets select Lorenzo Mauldin OLB Louisville 6'4" 259 lbs
This pick was perplexing for me as I liked the kid but he didn't fit the mold of a player we needed. He has great size but he is an OLB who has tight hips and can't play in space plus he has rudimentary pass rushing skills without superior quickness or bend. I didn't see how he was going to be effective. Loved the kid and his story but unless you though he was going to develop skills he didn't have; it is a puzzle.
I had three players who I loved at this pick
1) I had a late 2nd round grade on Danielle Hunter 6'5 252 LSU He was younger than Mauldin but had pass rushing skills. He played under Les Miles and I always move up talented players of Les Miles on my draft board. I always believed that Miles could recruit but he couldn't coach worth squat. He is the antithesis of Saban who coaches so well his player rarely get much better in the NFL. I figured Hunter was going to be great but his size is small for a 5 tech.
2) I loved David Johnson out of Northern Iowa and I couldn't believe he was still available in the 3rd round. I had an early 2nd round grade on him. He blew up the combine and was the best player at the senior bowl. He had great size, ran through arm tackles and was a natural pass catcher out of the backfield. I thought he was underrated by the draft people but I had no idea by how much he was undervalued.
3) Stephon Diggs from Maryland I had an early 3rd round grade on. He was strong against press coverage, had great hands (which is soooo important to me) and was a quality route runner. I really thought he was undervalued in the draft community but I didn't know what real NFL GM's thought of him.
In the end I would have taken Danielle Hunter because of our need for a pass rusher and then would have kicked myself later. In this draft it would mean I missed out on Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon and David Johnson all in the same draft. My own hatred of people who don't follow their draft grades and pick the "need" pick came back to bite me on the butt; I became who I loath. I also let a small school bias mix it's way into my analysis which is a huge mistake also. Once I saw him perform at he Senior Bowl and combine I should have used better judgement.
In the end I gave Macc a C- for the Mauldin pick. He made the same mistakes I did but I still don't understand what he saw in Mauldin that he didn't see in Hunter.
Maccagnan then did something I thought was stupid.... He traded the 7th round pick he got in an earlier trade #7/12/229 to move up one space and draft Bryce Petty. I don't have any idea what he was thinking. He gave away a draft pick to draft a QB who I had rated as a late 6th round talent. Some might see it differently but a Baylor QB in a spread system (although with a + arm) is still a long shot to make it in the NFL. To use a 4th round pick is bad enough but to also trade a 7th round pick to do so is puzzling. I realize many GM's think 7th round picks are worthless and why do I have to waste my time signing these guys to a contract? I think players like Robby Anderson in n 2016 (who I highlighted as a UDFA to sign) wouldn't be UDFA's if a GM was doing their job. The Jaguars were not going to take Petty, they had Bortles and if they wanted Petty they never would have traded with us; it just made no sense. To a draft guy like me it was just a waste, I had players I could draft with that pick; they were probably scrubs but at that time you never know. It was almost like he didn't want the extra 7th round pick and just flushed it away.
I gave that trade an F-, just foolish.
4/4/103 the Jets select Bryce Petty QB Baylor 6'3" 230 lbs
Petty came from a spread system with a plus arm and good movement skill but questionable intellect. His ability to read defenses was non existent and he had rarely even been in a huddle. A QB in the NFL is a leader of men, strong men and you better know how to command a huddle. He was a long shot (albeit with talent) from the beginning.
My pick I planned going into the draft was to select Rob Havenstein OT Wisconsin here but he was taken surprisingly in the 2nd round by the Rams. It was the last (of few) quality moves by Jeff Fisher. I really liked Havenstein and he had the look of a quality right tackle; he was just resigned to a 4 year/ $32.5 million contract
My Pick was Stefon Diggs WR 6' 0 195 lbs from Maryland
I had an early 3rd round grade on him and he was a surprise to me that he was still here (he actually lasted into the 5th round). He was (to me) the quintessential possession receiver in the draft. He was a quality route runner with speed (4.46/40) and was taught by a former Pro-Bowl receiver in Keenan McCardell. He played special teams, has great hands, tough (played a game with a lacerated kidney), he has a catch radius that is larger than his frame; he has great body control.
I liked him and I did a Fan post about hidden gems in the 2015 draft. GGN member (I miss fat Rex) really loved him which made me view more tape. I found a new and higher appreciation of Diggs the more I watched and it definitely changed my grade for the better. His film made me consider him as a late 2nd round choice but I used a early 3rd round grade.
The Grade I give to the selection of Bryce Petty is a C-. I felt that he was overdrafted and deserved a lower grade but I realize he was using the Packers former GM Ron Wolf's acumen to draft a QB in every draft if you don't have one. It is a philosophy is disagree with vehemently and believe that is foolish to just throw darts (which is what Petty was) to find a QB. Now Ron Wolf is in the NFL HOF and I'm just a person on a blog so I could be wrong; but of course I'm not.
Our original 5th round pick 5/06/142 was traded in the Brandon Marshall trade but Macc reclaimed our 5th round pick with a smart trade in the 3rd round. The same trade he then gave away a 7th round pick.
05/16/152 The Jets select Jarvis Harrison OG 6'4 330 lbs Texas A&M
Harrison is a player who I didn't appreciate but I should have. I wrote him off because he was from a spread system and didn't have to hold onto blocks long. He was never asked to power block but it is what his powerful body says he should be in the pro's. He had the physical talent though and that is pretty much all you can ask for at this point of the draft. I was most dismayed by reports that he was lazy and didn't work hard, although sometime in the draft community that can be taken with a grain of salt.
My pick was Greg Mancz OC Toledo 6'4 304 lbs
He had the technical ability to play the position but lacked the strength to be effective. It may have been a pipe dream but I felt that is he was given a year or two he would be a viable replacement for Nick Mangold.
I give Macc's pick a C+
I give my pick a D
We were IDZIKED with our 6th round pick (6/5/181) that he traded away to the Seahawks in 2014 for an overpriced Percy Harvin rental who played in 8 games was targeted 52 times and caught 29 for 350 yards and 1 TD. He was in Buffalo the following year. The Jets were 1-7 when we traded for Harvin so to not have him the next year was worse than worthless. He also cost us about $8 million in cap space in 2015 also. A 6th round pick isn't much but you can find hidden gold in those picks at times.
Players available with our 6th round pick
Quandre Diggs S from Texas just signed a $20.4 million/ 3 year contract extension with the Lions
Aaron Ripkowski, FB 6'1 257 lbs who was an asset well used with the Packers
Darius Philon DT 6'1" 300 lbs Arkansas is a rotational Tackle, a 3 tech who can rush the QB
Nick O'Leary TE 6' 3" 252 lbs FSU A TE with soft hands
Rakeem Nunez-Roches 6' 2" 307 lbs So. Miss A rotational DT with KC and now the Colts
These are not Pro Bowl type players but some are better than others and they are cheap foundation pieces to any team. You need players who can play and counted on in case of injury, in any case all these players are better than Harvin now because he is out of the league. To add a gadget type player with a $8 million salary to a going nowhere 1-7 team for 8 games is head scratching stuff.
We had two 7th round picks but Maccagnan traded our pick 7/7/224 to the Rams for RB Zac Stacy. Stacy 5'9 224 lbs played 8 games for the Jets in 2015 and had 31 rushes/89 yards/ 1 TD/ 2.8 average and was out of the league in 2016.
I gave that trade a C-
You got an NFL talent for a 7th round pick but he lasted all of 8 games.
7/6/223 the Jets select Deon Simon NT 6'4 321 lbs Northwestern st (La)
I thought this was a quality pick for a 7th round. A developmental player with upside; you give him to your D-line coach and see what he can do. GGN member (Hansen Alexander) had told be about Simon in that same Draft Gems fan post from earlier. I liked what I saw from Simon but figured only an idiot would let Snacks walk away from the Jets so I felt it may be a wasted pick.
I gave this selection a B+
I myself would have never traded away the other 7th round picks and used each one. Stacy was an NFL player but a 5'9 224 lbs RB with average speed is easy to find and he probably would have not made the Rams roster so we could have gotten him for free. The are UDFA's you can find that were better than Stacy
Malcolm Brown Rams is the back up for Todd Gurley
Zack Zenner has over 100 carries for the Lions
Thomas Rawls has over 300 career carries and would have more if not for injuries
Corey Grant is a change of pace back with the Jaguars with a 6.1 career rushing average
All these players and more were 2015 UDFAs currently still on active rosters, unlike Zac Stacy
My 3 7th round picks would have been
7/6/223 Bobby Richardson DT 6'3 285 lbs Indiana
I had a early 6th round grade on Richardson who is more of a 3 tech in a penetrating defense. I though he could be a rotational guy and a pass rush specialist. He played 1 year for the Saints and had 40 tackles/ 1/2 sack and an INT.He plays in the CFL right now but I thought he was worth a shot.
7/7/224 Ifo Ekpre-Olomu CB 5'9" 192 lbs Oregon
This pick was contingent on a medical report that Macc would see but I am not privy to. Ifo was once considered a 1st round talent as a possible lock down slot corner but a knee injury ended his season. He was worth a shot because of his pedigree, he has since tore an ACL in his other knee while he was with the Miami Dolphins.
7/12/229 La'el Collins OG/OT 6' 4" 305 lbs LSU
Collins was a first round talent who left the draft to go back to Baton Rouge the day before the draft because of the murder of his girlfriend. Police did not suspect him in the crime and he just wanted to clear things up. Collins representatives had vowed not to sign a contract if drafted but it was a bluff. I didn't know this at the time but it is one of the reason you like to have multiple picks in the 7th round, to take chances just like this. You can sign him but if he refuses you can trade him to a team of his choice and get back a substantial return. Collins would have looked great on our line as a RT of guard.
Collins agent speaking about the vow not to sign
"We can put it on the record now: We were never going back in the draft," Smith says of waiting for the 2016 draft. "If someone had drafted him, we would've had a long, long discussion about it, but at the end of the day you can't go back in the draft. He could get injured, gain weight, or 10 great tackles could come out. Too many risks."
Reviewing the 2015 NFL draft
I have 3 7th round picks because I would not have traded the other two, seemed foolish. You could argue that La'el Collins was the best pick of any 7th rd choice but since I used 3 picks he could only be chosen once. Why we wouldn't take a stab at him (or any other team) is beyond me. You knew almost for certain he wasn't going to sign with the Jets as a free agent if he had a choice.
So my grades for Maccagnan's 1st year as GM
His spending spree was over the top and put us in cap space purgatory for a while and led to the debacle of a first class steady Jet in D'Brick being unceremoniously treated like trash. It did put us in position to make the playoffs (but we didn't) and that was a lot to pay just to be competitive for a year.
Team Building grade D-
I put all the grades I gave Maccagnan for his first year (2015) and the average wasn't good. It came out as just a little better than a C which in my book is mediocre. I want better for the Jets.
I tried to be as objective as I could in this post. This was Maccagnan's first year, if that makes any difference. The Jets don't need a "learning on the job" GM and my thoughts are that every person in the organization should be top notch; let them learn how to do their job at another franchise.
Also I started this post on 8/31 but had some business to attend to so I didn't finish it until much later. This post was not in response to any other post.
Let me know what you think
And GO JETS....