Jets draft preview: Quarterback

April, 15, 2013
4/15/13
6:00
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Mark SanchezTim Farrell/USA TODAY SportsIf Mark Sanchez stumbles again in 2013, his Jets career will pay the price.
This is the first installment in a position-by-position analysis of the Jets as they prepare for the draft:

Position: Quarterback

Depth chart: Mark Sanchez, David Garrard, Greg McElroy, Tim Tebow, Matt Simms

Departures: N/A

Total salary-cap charge (Positional rank): $17.52 million (4th).

Scouting report: For the first time since 2009, Mark Sanchez's rookie year, the Jets have an open quarterback battle. Assuming Sanchez returns, his main competition is Garrard, 35, who is trying to resurrect his career after sitting out two seasons. In reality, it's Sanchez vs. Sanchez. If he can shake off last season's 26-turnover nightmare and grasp Marty Mornhinweg's West Coast system, the starting job should be his. Sanchez gets one last chance to prove his development in 2010 wasn't a mirage. If he continues as a turnover machine (52 over the last two seasons), his $8.25 million guaranteed salary will be on the bench. That, too, is a guarantee.

The pre-2011 Garrard was everything Sanchez isn't -- an accurate passer who didn't lose games with ridiculous turnovers. It's a tall order, expecting him to be that guy after two years of inactivity, but know this about Garrard: He probably would've been the Dolphins' opening-day starter if he didn't injure his knee last preseason. Tebow's days are numbered, meaning McElroy is the likely No. 3 -- unless they draft a quarterback.

The last time: It hasn't been that long since they drafted a quarterback -- McElroy, in the seventh round, 2011.

Potential targets: The Jets invited Geno Smith (West Virginia), EJ Manuel (Florida State) and Zac Dysert (Miami, Ohio) to Florham Park for pre-draft visits. It's unlikely they will pick a quarterback at No. 9, but it wouldn't be a shock if they choose one in Round 2 (No. 39 overall). I'm told they like Ryan Nassib (Syracuse), projected as a late one/early two. In fact, Mornhinweg and Nassib -- a couple of guys with a Philly connection -- dined together in Syracuse after his pro day. Nassib isn't a "wow" quarterback, but he's exceptionally smart and solid in all areas. He attempted 95 percent of his passes last season out of shotgun, so there could be a transition period. He probably won't last until 39, not with the quarterback-needy Bills and Jaguars picking ahead of them, so the Jets would have to trade up. Mornhinweg, too, spent time with Smith and was impressed, I'm told. Enough to take him at nine? We shall see.

Need rating (scale of 1 to 10): 9.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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