Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Will nicer draft room mean better drafting?
By Rich Cimini
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets will have plenty of cooks in the kitchen during next week's draft. That's because it'll be a bigger kitchen.
The Jets did some remodeling at their facility, expanding the draft room in terms of actual space. The room also will include more technology, allowing the decision makers to punch up relevant intel in a matter of seconds. Cynics will argue that Woody Johnson should've spent more money on free agents instead of interior decorating, but that's a story for another day.
"We want (the room) to be more inclusive, to get more people in there without sitting on top of each other," general manager John Idzik said Wednesday at the team's pre-draft news conference. "We have a lot more technology in the room. We have the ability to get things on the screen instead of shuffling through papers. The general direction is to get more efficient."
That, of course, is the bottom line. Fans don't care if the GM makes the picks from the men's room -- as long as they're the right picks. Idzik's first draft, led by NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Sheldon Richardson, was solid. Now, with 12 draft picks, Idzik has a chance to make a killing, especially if he uses the picks as bargaining chips to wheel and deal, targeting specific players.
Idzik provided no clues about the team's draft plans. He and his top draft lieutenants, Terry Bradway and Jeff Bauer, were more guarded than usual during a 30-minute session with reporters. In other words, he was willing to talk about the actual draft room, but nothing that will happen inside the walls.
Will they trade up from 18th? He didn't rule it out. Will they trade down? He didn't rule it out. Could he pick a quarterback in the first round? He didn't rule it out. Then again, he didn't rule out any position.
"We'll go in open minded," Idzik said about the prospect of moving from 18. "The nice thing about having 12 picks is it does give you flexibility and maneauverability in the draft. With fewer picks, you're less apt to do that."
They wouldn't discuss specific prospects. They wouldn't discuss positions in general. They wouldn't even acknowledge the worst-kept secret in football, that they will pick a wide receiver at some point.
"I wouldn't say it's safe to say anything at this point," Idzik said. "We're going to take the draft one pick at a time and add the best players."
It's unlikely they will pick at quarterback at 18, even if one of the Big Three slides. The Jets have spent the offseason talking up Geno Smith, even as they were wooing and signing Michael Vick, so it's hard to imagine them bailing on him after one year. But ...
"Geno has a year under his belt, but if a new guy comes in, we'd expect him to add to that competition," Idzik said. "That's going to make everybody better, not only the rookie, not only Matt (Simms), but only Mike, but also Geno."
Many experts are calling this one of the deepest drafts in years. Bradway allowed, "We probably have more draftable players (on our board) than we've had in a few years." It's particularly deep at wide receiver, one of the Jets' biggest needs.
"It's hard for me to compare year to year, but it's a good group," said the usually expansive Bradway, biting his tongue.
Idzik acknowledged that he feels more comfortable in the big chair than last year, when he was new on the scene. It allowed him to spend more time on the road, scouting. After being hired in January, 2013, he stayed mostly at the facility, supervising the transition.
"I didn't get the benefit of scouting the college season with the Jets' staff," said Idzik, who ended up replacing some of those scouts. He added, "This year, there was definitely a higher comfort level."
Especially in the draft room.