Imagine if the Jets had Vernon Davis

June, 9, 2014
Jun 9
10:35
AM ET
One of the fascinating aspects of the NFL draft is that each one produces a lifetime of what-if scenarios. No one knows this better than the New York Jets, whose history is filled with stars that got away. They passed on Dan Marino, Warren Sapp, Emmitt Smith ... and the list goes on. Well, here's another what-might-have-been:

Davis
Vernon Davis.

Former Jets coach Eric Mangini, speaking to the Hartford Courant during the run-up to his annual youth football camp last weekend in the Hartford, Connecticut area, said the Jets almost grabbed the freakishly talented tight end in the 2006 draft. Their interest in Davis was reported at the time, but it wasn't thought to be serious. Apparently, they were dead serious about Davis.

"When I was with the Jets, I really loved Vernon in the draft," Mangini said. "We were pretty close to drafting him in New York. It's funny how that kind of comes full circle."

Mangini is the new tight ends coach for the San Francisco 49ers, so he gets to work with Davis on a daily basis. It would've been fun to see Davis with the Jets -- they haven't had a weapon like him in a long time -- but you can't criticize them for not drafting him. Picking fourth in '06, they selected D'Brickashaw Ferguson, a three-time Pro Bowl selection who has missed only one play in his entire career. Ferguson isn't as good at his position as Davis is at tight end, but he solidified the crucial left-tackle spot for the Jets.

In other words, this wasn't like picking Kyle Brady instead of Sapp. But, hey, on a slow day in June, it's interesting to ponder what might have been.

Comparing Tebow and Manziel: While on the subject of former Jets coaches, ex-defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was asked over the weekend to compare his Tim Tebow experience (2012) with the current Johnny Manziel phenomenon. Believe it or not, the Cleveland Browns' coach said the Manziel hype is more manageable than it was for Tebow.

"The circumstances are different," Pettine told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Tebow was an established NFL player, he wasn't coming in as a rookie, unproven. It's a little easier for us with Manziel because he understands he earned Johnny Football as a college player and nobody understands it more than him. It's like, 'Listen, I don't want to be named starter coming out of the draft.'

"People criticize us for referring to him as a backup. That's what he is. It would have been a disservice to the other 80-some players in the locker room and it would have been a service to him carrying that burden of 'What have you done to deserve this?' We all want him to be successful but there is a process that has to occur and he has to go through it."

Presumably, Pettine won't have clandenstine, training-camp practices featuring Manziel-specific plays.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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