Monday, April 16, 2012
Jets draft preview: Quarterback
By Rich Cimini
This is the start of a nine-part, position-by-position analysis, breaking down needs and draft possibilities.
Depth chart: Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, Greg McElroy
Not under contract: Mark Brunell (UFA), Kevin O'Connell (UFA)
Scouting report: Things got a lot more interesting when the Jets traded for Tebow -- only two weeks after professing their love for Sanchez and giving him a contract extension. This is a quarterback controversy waiting to happen, but Sanchez has the ability to control it. If he plays well, there will be no issues. For Sanchez, it comes down to one thing: Ball security. He committed a career-high 26 turnovers last season, and there's no way new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, who believes in a ball-control offense, will tolerate anything close to that number. If Sanchez can reduce the turnovers and prevent his head from exploding amid Tebow-mania, he can have a bounce-back year.
Tebow can be a momentum changer in the wildcat, but he's not going win games with his arm -- at least not in a conventional, drop-back system. He might be able to hit an occasional quick strike, assuming defenses react to the wildcat the way the Jets are anticipating -- eight in the box, with straight man-to-man coverage. Without a doubt, the most accurate passer is McElroy, but he lacks a big arm and game experience.
The Last Time: You don't have to go back very far for the last time they drafted a quarterback; it was last year, when they chose McElroy in the seventh round. Prior to that, it was Sanchez (first round, 2009).
Potential Targets: GM Mike Tannenbaum subscribes to the Ron Wolf philosophy on quarterbacks -- don't be afraid to draft one every year for developmental purposes. Not a bad thought, but this hasn't been an ordinary year, with the arrival of Tebow. The Jets have three quarterbacks under 26, so it would be a waste to draft another. They haven't shown much interest at all in quarterbacks. If they did, late-round possibilities include Case Keenum (Houston) and Austin Davis (Southern Miss). The Jets will add a fourth arm for camp, perhaps O'Connell, who has some familiarity with Sparano's system.
Need Rating (on a scale of 1 to 10): 1.
Next: Running backs