- Rich Cimini, ESPN New York Jets reporter
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A better-late-than-never edition of the New York Jets' notes:
1. Magic Mike: Take a bow, Mike Maccagnan.
Maccagnan did a fantastic job in his first draft as the Jets' general manager, and it wasn't because of the players he picked. Let's be honest: No one knows for sure how any of the 256 drafted players will perform in the NFL. Day-after evaluations of the GM should be based on how he managed the draft: Was he aggressive? Did he pick value over need? Was there a plan? In Maccagnan's case, the answers are yes, yes and yes.
This is what I liked about the Jets' draft: Instead of trying to get cute and trade down, Maccagnan accepted his lucky break and picked highly-regarded defensive end Leonard Williams even though it wasn't a need. He knew the choice would have long-term implications for Muhammad Wilkerson, but he didn't blink.
Unlike his predecessor, John Idzik, Maccagnan didn't sit on his hands. He actually got on the phone, talked to other teams and made moves -- what a concept. He made three trades, moving down (for picks and wide receiver DeVier Posey), moving up (for quarterback Bryce Petty) and dealing a pick for a player (running back Zac Stacy). That's called being proactive, not reactive.
Maccagnan didn't operate in a vacuum; he knew what was happening in other draft rooms. That came up in the fourth round, when his intel was revealing that other teams -- namely the Cleveland Browns -- were trying to move up for the fourth pick in the round (held by the Jacksonville Jaguars) to take a quarterback, presumably Petty. Not wanting to take any chances, he surrendered a seventh-round pick to jump one spot, grabbing a possible quarterback of the future.
Here's another way to view the draft: When Maccagnan was hired in January, he inherited six draft picks. (The Jets were shy one pick because of the Percy Harvin trade.) He parlayed those picks into six drafted players, plus wide receiver Brandon Marshall, Posey and Stacy.
A veteran performance by a rookie GM.
2. Four is not tops: If Petty becomes a good quarterback in the league, it will defy a 10-year trend.
Historically, the fourth round is a wasteland for quarterbacks. You have to go back to 2005 to find a fourth-round quarterback who amounted to anything -- Kyle Orton. From 2006 to 2014, it was bleak. Not one of the 11 quarterbacks chosen in that span has started more than nine games.
Get a load of this list: Logan Thomas, Tom Savage, Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib, Tyler Wilson, Landry Jones, Kirk Cousins, Mike Kafka, Stephen McGee, Isaiah Stanback and Brad Smith, who became best known as a non-quarterback/gadget player for the Jets.
There's a remarkable dropoff between the second/third rounds and the fourth round. Since 2011, quarterbacks drafted in the second and third rounds have a better record, a higher Total QBR and more than double the playoff wins than their first-round counterparts, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
3. The Bryce is right (or is it?): Opinions on Petty are all over the map. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said Petty "might be the most natural thrower of the football in this draft," but he added that he's not ready to play immediately. One AFC personnel executive told me, "It will be a process for him. He's had limited drop-back quarterback play in traditional offensive sets. The windows will be smaller and the reads a lot tighter" in the NFL.
Petty's stats and metrics in Baylor's spread offense were crazy good, but there was one number that wasn't so good. Pro Football Focus, the stats-based website, did a breakdown of the top 20 quarterbacks in the draft. In the throwing "under pressure" category, Petty posted a 60.3 accuracy percentage, which ranked only 15th.
4. It's Mo's town, but for how long? Because of the Williams pick, Wilkerson's long-term future will be the subject of speculation throughout the season. Let's face the salary-cap reality: The "Sons of Anarchy" defensive line probably won't be together beyond 2015.
Nose tackle Damon Harrison is No. 1 on the likely-to-leave list because he's an unresticted free agent in 2016. Barring a long-term deal, the Jets can keep Wilkerson (signed through 2015) by exercising the franchise tag next year. It would be costly -- the tag amount this year for defensive ends is $14.8 million -- but not prohibitive. The combined cap numbers in 2016 for Wilkerson, Richardson and Williams would be about $22 million.
For a league-wide perspective, let's look at the St. Louis Rams, who are loaded on the defensive line with Robert Quinn, Chris Long and Aaron Donald. Their entire line has a league-high cap charge of $47.6 million in 2015. So, yes, it's possible, especially if you're not paying a franchise quarterback.
5. Be flexible, coach: Todd Bowles said he has no plans to junk his 3-4 defense to accommodate Williams. In my opinion, if you have four really good defensive linemen, it's up to the coach to change the plan. Good coaches tailor the scheme around the personnel.
6. Deep thoughts on Mr. Smith: The Jets are convinced that Ohio State wide receiver Devin Smith, picked in the second round, can be more than a vertical target. Another team gathering pre-draft intel on Smith called the Ohio State football office to find out why Smith wasn't more of a factor on underneath and intermediate passes.
The word that came back was that he "doesn't have the zone instincts to be a good route runner," a source said. That might explain why 54 percent of Smith's targets last season came on throws of 20-plus yards. The source added, "He's a one-trick pony ... but he's pretty good at that one trick."
Smith tricked his way to a 28-yard average last season. The good thing about the Jets' situation is that Marshall and Eric Decker can handle the underneath stuff. Smith will have a year to polish the rest of his game while contributing what he does best ... go deep.
7. Zac attack: The Jets will pick up the final two years of Stacy's contract, only $585,000 and $675,000. It makes him their only running back signed beyond 2015. This was a low-cost addition, but I'm not sure what he adds to the backfield other than depth. He rushed for 975 yards as a rookie in 2013, but he's not a breakaway threat. In 326 career carries, he has yet to break a run longer than 40 yards.
8. Don't keep mom waiting: We had some interesting conference calls with the Jets' draft picks. There was linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin, who was overcome with emotion upon realizing a lifelong dream amid a life of extreme hardship. (He has spent time in 16 foster homes.) Then there was guard Jarvis Harrison, who seemed rather disinterested as he was questioned by reporters. After several clipped answers, he was asked about his mother's reaction to him being drafted.
"She's calling me right now," he said. "That's why I'm trying to hurry up."
9. He needs to get out more: The TV in the Jets' media room was showing the Kentucky Derby when Maccagnan and Bowles were leaving their post-draft news conference on Saturday. They stopped to watch the home stretch. Maccagnan didn't know it was the derby and that it was the first leg of the Triple Crown. Now that's a man consumed by his job.
Maccagnan inherited six picks and turned them into three veterans and six picks.