In 2008, the Jets burned a top-1o pick on linebacker/defensive end Vernon Gholston. After three years with no regular-season sacks, the Jets admitted their error, and moved on.
In 2009, the Bills blew the 11th overall pick on linebacker/defensive end Aaron Maybin. After two years with no regular-season sacks, the Bills admitted their error, and moved on.
That’s where the similarities end. Gholston currently has no job in the NFL. Maybin, in contrast, has found a home with the team that wasted a high-profile pick on Gholston.
And as Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News explains it, Maybin’s second chance has been fueled considerably by Mike Smith, a coaching intern who by definition is overworked and underpaid. “Without him, I’d probably be a fish without fins in the open sea,” Maybin said. (We also would have accepted “fish out of water.”) “He understands me better than any of my coaches since I was in college. He’s one of the biggest reasons I’m doing what I’m doing now.”
So why has Smith made Maybin a personal project? “I believe in second chances,” Smith said. “He looks at me and knows that I’d do anything for him and he’d do anything for me. I believe in him. In Buffalo, nobody believed in him.”
Actually, it took the Jets a while to believe in Maybin. He made it onto the 53-man roster. For a day. Cut in early September, Maybin remained available until the Jets brought him back nearly a month later.
So it’s technically Maybin’s third chance. And he’s made the most of it, with six sacks and four forced fumbles in only nine games. He could be getting consideration for the AP comeback player of the year award, if the voters conclude that he ever did anything to which he is now coming back.
More importantly, Maybin could be getting himself in line for a significant payday. As a third-year player, the Jets will have to decide whether and to what extent he should be tendered under the restricted free agency rules. If they don’t limit him come March 2012, he likely won’t draw as little interest as he did the last two times he was on the open market.