The Jets are in the process of rebuilding their roster after a 5-11 record in the 2016 season that kept them out of the playoffs for the sixth straight year and the success of that endeavor will be largely predicated on their ability to turn around their recent draft history.
General Manager Mike Maccagnan’s first two drafts have yielded a few hits with time to go before a full accounting of how he fared in 2015 and 2016 can be done. It will have to be far better than the Jets fared in the four previous drafts if the Jets are going to be back on track.
As Connor Hughes of NJ.com points out, Maccagnan’s immediate predecessor John Idzik drafted 19 players over two years and only five remain with the club at this point. Five of the players are out of the league entirely and high picks like Calvin Pryor, Dee Milliner, Geno Smith and Jace Amaro moved on without doing much to lift the team’s fortunes.
Defensive end Sheldon Richardson is the only one of Idzik’s three first-round picks still on the roster and the team’s willingness to trade him has been discussed for some time. Guard Brian Winters and wide receiver Quincy Enunwa are also starters while cornerback Dexter McDougle and offensive lineman Dakota Dozier have been backups.
Things weren’t much better in Mike Tannenbaum’s final two years on the job. The Jets still have three of the 14 players he drafted in 2011 and 2012, although linebacker Demario Davis left for the Browns before being reacquired in a trade for 2014 first-rounder Pryor. His final draft saw the Jets add linebacker Quinton Coples and wide receiver Stephen Hill in the first two rounds, both of whom are out of the league after failing to make it through their rookie deals with the Jets.
That left the Jets without a base of young talent to build around and led to the addition of a slew of veterans who helped the team win 10 games in 2015 before everything went south last year. Most of those players are gone and the lesson about where the Jets need to improve in order to avoid a repeat seems clear heading into the 2017 season.