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Mike Maccagnan's first three drafts: A look at the Jets' 21 Club

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Mike Maccagnan's first three drafts: A look at the Jets' 21 Club

enRiched Cimini ESPN Staff Writer

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Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan has consistently drafted the best player available regardless of his team's needs. AP Photo/Michael Conroy

If it takes three years to evaluate a draft class, as most experts believe, it seems fair that three drafts should be enough to judge the guy making the picks.

New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan has three in the books -- a total of 22 selections, with 10 on offense, 11 on defense and one punter. Impressively, 21 of the 22 remain on the roster. Let's dive into his three drafts, examining trends, along with hits and misses:

1. He really does subscribe to the best-player-available philosophy: He talks about it ad nauseam, but give him credit for backing up his words. The first example occurred in 2015, when he picked Leonard Williams (No. 6 overall) even though defensive line wasn't a need. It was a brilliant decision.

Maccagnan's approach really jumped out in the most recent draft, when he used his first four picks on two safeties and two wide receivers. While the Jets absolutely needed safety help, it could be argued they overdid it by taking Marcus Maye in the second round after picking Jamal Adams in the first.

Wide receiver wasn't seen as a pressing need, yet Maccagnan chose ArDarius Stewartand Chad Hansen in the third and fourth rounds, respectively. Maccagnan said they were too good to pass up, as was the case with Maye. In the process, the GM passed up bigger needs.

A BPA strategy will produce some head-scratching choices along the way, but it's the right approach from a macro perspective. If you keep taking the "best" player, it's bound to increase the talent base over time.

2. He isn't a fan of drafting offensive linemen: Maccagnan has relied on free agency, not the draft, to rebuild the line. He has drafted only two linemen, both in the fifth round -- Jarvis Harrison (a bust) and Brandon Shell. In fact, the Jets are the only team in the past three drafts that hasn't picked a lineman in the first four rounds.

Maccagnan is climbing a slippery slope. While he understandably ignored the line in the most recent draft -- the overall talent was regarded as below average -- the neglect over a three-year span could hurt the Jets in the long term. You never want to be beholden to free agency, especially on the line, the position group that requires the most continuity. It's also more expensive than drafting and developing your own players.

3. He hedges his quarterback bets: The Jets are one of six teams that have drafted two quarterbacks since 2015 -- Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg -- but they haven't taken the first-round plunge since 2009 (Mark Sanchez). That was two regimes ago. Maccagnan resisted the urge this year, passing on eventual first-rounders Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes, but that could change in 2018, depending on the development of Petty and Hackenberg.

4. He's not into workout warriors: Some teams fall in love with the stopwatch and wind up overdrafting players because of their 40 times. Maccagnan's track record suggests he pays more attention to game tape than how a prospect performs at the scouting combine. The one exception was first-round linebacker Darron Lee, who blew up the 2016 combine with a 4.47 in the 40.

5. He likes big corners, but not big investments at the position: Maccagnan knows what his coach wants. Todd Bowles plays a press-man scheme, predicated on cornerbacks being able to control wide receivers at the line of scrimmage. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that the three corners drafted by Maccagnan -- Juston BurrisDerrick Jones and Jeremy Clark -- are 6-foot-1, 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-3, respectively.

What is surprising is that Maccagnan has yet to draft a corner in the first three rounds. It's odd because of the importance of the position in Bowles' system. This is another area dominated by free agencyDarrelle Revis (released), Antonio Cromartie(released in 2016), Buster Skrine and Morris Claiborne. The cost of signing starting-caliber corners is enormous; it behooves the Jets to create an in-house pipeline.

6. He's buying into the wide-receiver craze: The colleges are throwing the ball more than ever, churning out talented receivers with gaudy stats. Maccagnan is riding the wave. The Jets have drafted four receivers in the past three years, including a second-round pick -- Devin Smith (2015), whose career has been derailed by injuries. They're among 12 teams that have picked at least four receivers in that span. Interestingly, Maccagnan's most productive addition was undrafted: Robby Anderson.

 

7. He prefers big-school players: Only four of his 22 selections come from outside the Power 5 conferences, all of whom were drafted in the fifth round or later. His favorite conferences: SEC (six picks), ACC (five) and Big 10 (four).

What does it all mean? It shows that level of competition carries a lot of weight in his evaluation process. Truth be told, the franchise hasn't been very good at identifying small-school gems. The best example in recent years is nose tackle Damon Harrison, who went undrafted out of William Penn (Iowa), an NAIA school, but was signed by the Jets. After three seasons with the Jets, Harrison played for the Giants in 2016.

Final report card: The only pick not on the roster anymore is Jarvis Harrison. That says a lot about Maccagnan and his team of scouts. The negative: Only three players have emerged as starters -- Williams, Lee and Jordan Jenkins -- just one of whom is an impact player (Williams). Clearly, the results have to get better if this team hopes to successfully navigate a rebuilding cycle. As stated earlier, free agency and trades were the lifeblood of the team in 2015 and 2016. Not anymore. Now is the time for Maccagnan's drafts to shine.

 

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BPA is nonsense after the first round.  Because you're really only guessing at it.  Our second round BPA's have been worthless.  So you use common sense and know that it is wiser to take the risk on a position of need, than to take a risk on a position that's loaded.  Because loading up at a loaded position, regardless of the draft pick's performance, doesn't help your team.  It only makes you have to cut someone.  Net gain = 0.  Yet everyone trumpets BPA.  It's nonsense.

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Wake me up when we don't have the worst roster in the league. All those drafting skills, yet we suck in every single department except gaining a high draft pick. 

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4 hours ago, LIJetsFan said:

This article makes it all sound nice and good to go-ish.  So how come our roster still sux? 

The roster isn't as bad as a lot of people think.  The way the players were used by Bowles and the near 50-year drought at QB makes everyone look infinitely worse. It's a lot easier to look at a team's record and assume all the players suck than it is to actually watch them play, no matter how painful it may be.

 

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I think it is pretty funny that there is a picture of John Idzek on his computer.  Only 2 players remain from him in Richardson and Enuwa.

I do like the fact that Mac brings in guys who played and won National Championships.  Stewart (Alabama), Leggett (Clemson), Lee won with (Ohio State 2014).

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2 hours ago, AFJF said:

The roster isn't as bad as a lot of people think.  The way the players were used by Bowles and the near 50-year drought at QB makes everyone look infinitely worse. It's a lot easier to look at a team's record and assume all the players suck than it is to actually watch them play, no matter how painful it may be.

 

So you think it was easier watching these guy play last year, do you?  Are you sure you want to own this statement?

Look, Bowles sux, that's for sure but that doesn't excuse this roster.  Mac began with a ton of FA acquiring cash and traded a few draft picks for FA's as well.  At this point in time he's got nothing substantial to show for all of that.   

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1 hour ago, LIJetsFan said:

So you think it was easier watching these guy play last year, do you?  Are you sure you want to own this statement?

Look, Bowles sux, that's for sure but that doesn't excuse this roster.  Mac began with a ton of FA acquiring cash and traded a few draft picks for FA's as well.  At this point in time he's got nothing substantial to show for all of that.   

I said It's easier to just look at the record and say "no talent" than it is to watch the games and see that there are some good players who came out and mailed it in under Bowles when the season was lost as well as some young players who spent most of the season on the bench despite being better than the players Bowles was starting in front of them.

I'm not saying this is a good or great team, but they have more talent than a lot of people think.

Until they get a legit QB, they're going to have losing seasons no matter how well some of the younger guys play.

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8 hours ago, RutgersJetFan said:

A few weeks ago I could have sworn that 3 offseasons in Mike Maccagnan had built up one of the worst rosters in the league, but these daily softcore blowjob articles have really swayed me.

Come on man, 21/22!

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The vast majority of this entire article's premise is false or irrelevant if you assume the authors first point is accurate.

If you say he truly subscribes to BPA (and referenced rd. 1-4 as evidence) then any other decision as to what he likes to draft or not draft is irrelevant.

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On May 18, 2017 at 7:43 PM, LIJetsFan said:

This article makes it all sound nice and good to go-ish.  So how come our roster still sux? 

Cimini left out the part about quality coaching, developing players, using them smartly so they can succeed, etc. He touched on the idea but it didn't stick.

A winning roster doesn't begin and end with the GM's phone call and handshake. That only works if you build thru FA and grab proven vets from other teams.

But this is about the draft. Our drafted pups can only be what our CS and system allows them to be.

 

Quote

As stated earlier, free agency and trades were the lifeblood of the team in 2015 and 2016. Not anymore. Now is the time for Maccagnan's drafts to shine.

Also means it's time for our brilliant HC and staff to shine and earn a paycheck. 

 

On May 19, 2017 at 3:11 AM, LIJetsFan said:

So you think it was easier watching these guy play last year, do you?  Are you sure you want to own this statement?

Look, Bowles sux, that's for sure but that doesn't excuse this roster.  Mac began with a ton of FA acquiring cash and traded a few draft picks for FA's as well.  At this point in time he's got nothing substantial to show for all of that.   

You sure you want to own this statement? 

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Im not defending Maccagnan in the least, and I have been as disappointed with many of his moves as anyone, but when Bowles is smiling ear to ear over the first two draft picks this year, and telling everyone why we drafted Lee last year, and was vocal in naming Fitz the starter, and on and on and on, it certainly smells to me that Bowles is dictating much of the personnel decisions. Do I know this certainly, no, can I connect the dots, I think so......

 

 

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3 hours ago, AFJF said:

I said It's easier to just look at the record and say "no talent" than it is to watch the games and see that there are some good players who came out and mailed it in under Bowles when the season was lost as well as some young players who spent most of the season on the bench despite being better than the players Bowles was starting in front of them.

I'm not saying this is a good or great team, but they have more talent than a lot of people think.

Until they get a legit QB, they're going to have losing seasons no matter how well some of the younger guys play.

I was agreeing with you up to the bold.  We and many other teams have had winning seasons w/o a legit QB under center.  This is a team sport and just a marginally adequate QB (Sanchez for example) can lead a well coached team with a well thought out roster pretty darn far.   In other words, roster counts for a lot more than you're giving credit.  A good roster makes a bad coach better.      

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6 hours ago, NYDreamer said:

I think it is pretty funny that there is a picture of John Idzek on his computer.  Only 2 players remain from him in Richardson and Enuwa.

I do like the fact that Mac brings in guys who played and won National Championships.  Stewart (Alabama), Leggett (Clemson), Lee won with (Ohio State 2014).

Richardson, Enunwa, Winters, Dozier, Pryor and McDougle. 

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On 5/19/2017 at 9:49 AM, NoBowles said:

Im not defending Maccagnan in the least, and I have been as disappointed with many of his moves as anyone, but when Bowles is smiling ear to ear over the first two draft picks this year, and telling everyone why we drafted Lee last year, and was vocal in naming Fitz the starter, and on and on and on, it certainly smells to me that Bowles is dictating much of the personnel decisions. Do I know this certainly, no, can I connect the dots, I think so......

 

 

When Todd Bowles is making your football team's draft decisions it's time to maybe change strategy

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6 minutes ago, thadude said:

When Todd Bowles is making your football team's draft decisions it's time to maybe change strategy

Only Woody can change that

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I'm surprised with the the nouveau draft truthers that emerged from the Idzik Era, no one has taken the time to review the ballyhooed 21.

 

2015:

1.6: Leonard Williams: Good pick, but at a position of absolutely minimal need for a team with copious needs everywhere else at the time. The concern with this player is that Bowles and Rodgers screw him up the way he screwed up Mo and Sheldon. 

2.37: Devin Smith: Was a sh*tty pick for a one-trick pony WR who is constantly injured and doesn't seem to like football in the first place. The next pick was Preston Smith, who was a SPARQ favorite who looks like a future star in Washington.

3.81: Lorenzo Maudlin: Lumbering OLB who doesn't do much well and seems to be a head case. Four picks later, the Cardinals drafted David Johnson.

4.103: Bryce Petty: Mac traded up to steal Petty from the Browns, but then almost immediately said Petty's ceiling was as a backup player in the NFL. Got his shot last year for a team who had already quit, whose coach was desperate to keep Fitzpatrick in the lineup solely to placate Brandon Marshall. Not surprisingly, Petty was not good, but showed a lot of toughness and some semblance of leadership ability. Can't hate on this pick itself, but (as usual) the Jets organization proves itself to be Death Valley for young QB prospects.

5.152: Jarvis Harrison: An athletic guard who every draft analyst said wasn't into football who quickly proved he was not really into football.

7.22: Deon Simon, DT: Has looked good in the times he's played. Nice pick.

 

2016: 

1.20: Darron Lee--PFF had a few articles pre-draft showing that Lee sucked both against the run and the pass, but the Jets drafted him anyway because they were so unathletic on defense. On the plus side, Lee was at his best against Buffalo, where he was able to help contain McCoy and Tyrod Taylor. Overall, he's been bad, and bad stemming from areas that can't really be fixed--his size, for instance, and seemingly awful instincts for the position. Given the Jets romance with Dont'a Hightower this summer, it seems they might be aware that Lee is already just a niche player.

 

2.51: Christian Hackenberg--His college career was awful, the pre-draft reviews were awful and the early returns have been awful. Refusing to play him at all down the stretch was either a condemnation of the coach or of Hackenberg himself--if they think he's good and wanted to spare him the ignominy of playing on a team that had quit, then why is Bowles still here? But if they didn't put him out there because they knew he'd suck, then why even hand him a roster spot? The pick after Hackenberg was Deion Jones, who currently is the player the Jets thought they were getting in Darron Lee. And if you want to say it was a case of Hackenberg being the true BPA at this slot, then you can't say sh*t about Idzik drafting Geno Smith, other than that Idzik may have had a point with Geno.

3.83: Jordan Jenkins--Had the 40 and three-cone times of a defensive tackle, but he's another guy (like Maudlin) we expect to become a big pass rusher, I guess. The evidence tying athletic testing to pass rush ability seems to be extremely clear and voluminous, and the Jets are possibly the last team to be outright rejecting that evidence.

4.118: Juston Burris--Slow corner with marginal athleticism. Dak Prescott was drafted a little later in this round.

5. Brandon Shell--Good pick, it seems. Played reasonably well at RT, but will be asked to beat out two scrubs for PT this year.

7.235: Lac Edwards--Started out promising, but punting behind a Ryan Fitzpatrick offense will burn anyone out faster than being a middle reliever for Joe Girardi. Even though it's a seventh rounder, they burned a draft pick on a punter it looks like they'll need to replace sooner than later.

7.241: Charone Peake--Good pick, so far. Has shown speed and an ability to make contested catches. 

 

 

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On 5/18/2017 at 11:05 PM, RutgersJetFan said:

A few weeks ago I could have sworn that 3 offseasons in Mike Maccagnan had built up one of the worst rosters in the league, but these daily softcore blowjob articles have really swayed me.

Look at the source. He's an expert. 

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On 5/19/2017 at 7:55 AM, dbatesman said:

Come on man, 21/22!

Come on man 5-11. Lousy FA signings, lousy drafts, players who underperform, a terrible terrible game coach, and who the hell drafts back to back safeties in the first 2 rounds? Has that EVER happened!  And no sign of a competent QB.  Mac won't get one unless one falls in his lap like Big Cat did.  Oh wait he's setting it up to get that #1 pick. Brilliant. 

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40 minutes ago, Powpow said:

Come on man 5-11. Lousy FA signings, lousy drafts, players who underperform, a terrible terrible game coach, and who the hell drafts back to back safeties in the first 2 rounds? Has that EVER happened!  And no sign of a competent QB.  Mac won't get one unless one falls in his lap like Big Cat did.  Oh wait he's setting it up to get that #1 pick. Brilliant. 

Most great QBs just fall into a team's lap in the draft... I mean other than that... good rant.

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