The Jets’ never-ending search for a franchise quarterback has taken them to Tobacco Road, where a guy you’ve probably never heard of might be the answer to their problems.
The word in NFL circles is that Woody Johnson’s star-crossed franchise has the hots for North Carolina junior quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
Plenty can change in the next four months, but Gang Green is extremely intrigued by the athletic, strong-armed signal caller who hasn’t even officially declared for the 2017 draft yet.
“They got their eyes set on the North Carolina quarterback,” one rival scout told the Daily News. “The Jets are all over this kid. All over him. They’ll probably deny it if you ask, but they love that kid. That’s their guy. They’re not going to get him though, because I think that kid is going to get over-drafted.”
The NFL draft world is littered with armchair general managers churning out endless mock drafts, but it’s no secret that Mike Maccagnan & Co. are in the market for a quarterback. There’s a growing sense on One Jets Drive that the future franchise signal caller doesn’t reside in the building.
Rookie Christian Hackenberg isn’t close to being ready to play in a real game, prompting questions about the wisdom of selecting him in the second round eight months ago.
Bryce Petty kicked off his four-game audition with an uneven performance in a come-from-behind win in San Francisco a few days ago, but team decision makers aren’t sold that he’s the right guy for the job in 2017.
“Trying to train a quarterback in the fire… that’s not the way you get it done,” said Charley Casserly, who consulted Johnson in his search for a new coach and general manager two years ago. “You got to get it done in the offseason and bring him in and build him up. That’s the ideal way to do it. Obviously, they’re going to play (Petty) for four games and see how he progresses and then make the decision.”
The Jets were blown away by Christian Hackenberg in the pre-draft process, but now he can’t even get a uniform on game day.
“Anything he does would NOT influence my draft decision,” Casserly added. “That’s my opinion. If there’s a quarterback in a round you like, I’d take him anyway. The more, the merrier and we’ll figure this thing out. It doesn’t seem like there’s a guy in the draft where they’re picking (in the first round) that is the answer to the problem unfortunately.”
The 4-9 Jets are positioned to get a Top 6 pick in a draft with a mediocre quarterback class. Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and Trubisky are the headliners right now, but the evaluation process hasn’t kicked into hire gear. (A few years ago, Geno Smith was considered the No. 1 overall pick by some at this point on the NFL calendar).
The Jets have yet to meet as an organization to discuss juniors or set internal grades.
“Last year when I watched Goff, I said there’s no way this guy is the first pick in the draft,” one personnel director said. “But you just never know.”
Trubisky’s mother has revealed that her son is on track to graduate this month and will announce whether he’ll enter the draft after UNC’s game against Stanford in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 30. The feeling in league circles is that he’ll be a first-round pick, making it a no-brainer for him to forego his college eligibility.
The 6-3, 220-pound Trubisky has the requisite size, athleticism and arm strength to thrive at the next level, according to NFL scouts. He needs to improve his footwork, some evaluators say, but the biggest concern is that he’s only been a full-time starter for one season. It was a dandy — 3,468 yards, 28 touchdown passes and only four interceptions — but he could use a little more seasoning.
Would that prevent teams from taking Trubisky with a Top 10 pick? Uh, no. (See: Wentz, Carson).
The Jets aren’t close to being sold on Bryce Petty as the quarterback of the future.
(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Things change in a hurry from January to April. The Senior Bowl, scouting combine, private workouts and player interviews alter the draft landscape.
Remember, the Jets were blown away by Hackenberg’s workout and classroom skills during a private session with team brass in the run-up to last year’s draft.
NFL GMs and coaches will learn plenty about Trubisky during the exhaustive pre-draft process (assuming he declares). The bad news for the Jets is that there are a few quarterback-needy teams currently ahead of them in the draft pecking order. The Browns (0-13), 49ers (1-12) and Bears (3-10) are in the same desperate situation without a reliable signal caller.
Although defensive stalwarts like Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett, Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers and Alabama’s trio of Jonathan Allen, Tim Williams and Reuben Foster deserve serious consideration to be selected ahead of any of the quarterbacks, the temptation to reach for a signal caller is strong. Busts Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder were selected in the Top 12 of the 2011 draft.
Could we see a repeat this year?
“These guys are going to get over-drafted,” the rival scout said if this year’s quarterback class. “It’s going to happen.”
We’ll find out soon enough if the Jets crush on Trubisky turns into something much bigger.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News