The Jets have moved to No. 3 not to be at No. 3 but to get player No. 1 on their board. So who is it?
The prevailing reaction in response to the news of the three-spot jump seems to be that the Jets want a quarterback, and that they’re fine with any of three that would be there when they pick. It may not be quite that simple.
The Jets could be hoping to get running back Saquon Barkley at No. 3, with defensive end Bradley Chubb being viewed as an acceptable fallback. If just one quarterback is taken in the first two picks, they’re guaranteed to get one of the two top non-quarterbacks. If it’s bang-bang one-two quarterbacks (and don’t be shocked if the Bills now move up to No. 2 with the Giants to get a quarterback), the Jets will get Barkley.
Also, the Browns may now feel more compelled to take a quarterback at No. 1 instead of No. 4, if they think the Jets will take a quarterback. Which sets the stage for two quarterbacks being gone by the time the Jets pick.
Other factors support this possible strategy. First, the Jets signed Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater becomes, potentially, the young quarterback who is evaluated this year with the possibility of becoming the starter in 2019. Second, G.M. Mike Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles may feel compelled to win now. Drafting and stashing a quarterback with the third overall pick won’t help that cause; drafting an impact player who’ll start Week One at another position will.
Consider the team’s recent experiences. Last year, the Jets took safety Jamal Adams at No. 6, and he became an instant contributor. The year before, they used a second-round pick on quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who has yet to play in a regular-season game.
The idea that the Jets definitely will take a quarterback at No. 3 means that they definitely have decided that there are three of five potential first-round quarterbacks who will become franchise quarterbacks. Given the Hackenberg misadventure, it’s hard to imagine the Jets being that confident about their ability to evaluate incoming quarterbacks.