Organizational philosophy is a widely debated topic. There are many ways to build a team’s roster up – whether it’s through free agency, trades, and/or the draft. In addition to all the different methods of going about acquiring roster talent there is also potentially an order of what position to acquire first. Should a team with little talent on their roster take a franchise quarterback without the proper foundation? It’s debatable whether taking a quarterback in the first round if the offense is lacking receivers and the proper protection for him to succeed is a smart team building move. However, as we’ve discussed before, wait too long and you may end up like the Houston Texans – a team that is good all around except at quarterback.
Each team should take the player they’re most comfortable with to succeed moving forward. The added context of the team surrounding that pick, especially quarterback, should be incorporated into their decision making process. In a draft where there are no Andrew Luck type prospects, should a roster with a dearth of talent take a quarterback in the first round? The answer lies somewhere in your personal philosophy. If I were Team X in that situation I would advise that if you do select a quarterback, you better know he’s the guy.
Which brings me to the New York Jets. A franchise that has enough dumbfounding losses to adopt the Curb Your Enthusiasm theme song. The Jets finished 5-11 in 2016 after missing the playoffs by one game in 2015. This drop off in wins led to some calling for head coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan’s jobs. Although it seems Maccagnan has more leash than Bowles heading into 2017, both seem to at least be on the hot seat for the upcoming season. Part of the reason for the implosion had to do with the poor play of their quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, leading to 2015 4th round pick, Bryce Petty taking the starting position. As of now Petty, Christian Hackenberg (a 2nd round pick), and Josh McCown are the three quarterbacks on their depth chart.
Another miserable season in New York could mean the end of this Jets’ regime despite years remaining on both Bowles’ and Maccagnan’s contracts. With no real option at quarterback and a roster without much talent outside of their defensive line, the Jets brass are in a tough spot. The team currently holds the sixth overall pick in the draft. There are a lot of options for them at six. They could potentially bulk up their roster’s talent, but will they be forced to take a quarterback due to a lack of job security? General managers and head coaches without job security are likely to make risky personnel decisions to save their jobs. And those decisions usually do not save their jobs.
Yet, taking a player like Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore or LSU safety Jamal Adams isn’t going to drastically impact the win column in the short term. With many holes at several different positions the Jets best chance to improve quickly means hitting on a franchise quarterback. But is quarterback in round one the best direction for the Jets moving forward?
Maybe, if that quarterback is Deshaun Watson. I believe Watson to be the most NFL ready QB in the draft. The Jets newly hired offensive coordinator John Morton runs a West Coast/Hybrid offense that aligns with Watson’s ideal scheme fit. And according to Mark Schofield in his recent Check With Me piece he believes Watson can start right away if he has the right pieces around him. “Watson is close to being ready to start for an NFL team on Week 1, ideally for a team that has many pieces in place and will not ask him to carry the load as a rookie from the start.”
However, the Jets offense does not have many pieces in place. They lost a key receiver in Brandon Marshall in free agency. They also may be shopping Eric Decker during the draft. There isn’t a lot of star power on the Jets currently and that could mean a rough year for the team overall if they were to hand a rookie quarterback the keys to the offense. Which means people at the top may be fired. The only way for the Jets to justify taking Watson is if they believe he’s the face of the franchise. Meaning they’ll continue to infuse resources for him to succeed in up coming drafts in a stable environment. Taking Watson due to desperation won’t help any of the parties involved. Intent matters as it will impact how the organization develops within the next few seasons.
Job security for their GM and head coach would give the Jets more freedom and ultimately help their team in the long-term. Teams that give their coaches and general managers years to develop their programs have far better returns than ones who are constantly firing them. It took until Jason Garrett’s fourth full season in Dallas for him to make the playoffs, but Jerry Jones allowed Garrett and his roster time to develop and is now reaping the benefits. Jerry Jones being both the team’s owner and general manager allows him to make personnel decisions that others can’t make. The same can be said with Bill Belichick because he has an unlimited amount of job security and can try new creative ways of roster construction. It’s not a coincidence that if the Dallas Cowboys didn’t select the injured Jaylon Smith in the second round of last year’s draft the Patriots were reportedly going to.
Depending on your personal philosophy the Jets decision with the sixth overall pick may vary drastically. Taking a non-quarterback seems like the best decision for the Jets long term. It builds your roster and gives your eventual quarterback a much higher chance of succeeding in the future. But if you’re decision making is fogged by a lack of job security like Maccagnan’s and Bowles’ could be, taking Watson might be your only option.
Maccagnan and Bowles might cite the great economist John Maynard Keynes at time like this. He once wrote in his work, The Tract on Monetary Reform, “The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.”