A look at what’s happening around the New York Jets:
1. Swing and a miss: It’s the (gag) gift that keeps on giving (agita).
We’re talking about the 2014 NFL draft, arguably the worst in Jets history. When offensive lineman Dakota Dozier signed recently with the Minnesota Vikings, it left the Jets with only one player from the ’14 draft — wide receiver Quincy Enunwa.
One out of 12 picks.
Five years after the Idzik 12 — the general manager at the time was John Idzik — the Jets still are feeling the impact of that lost draft. If they had hit on, say, six out of 12, they would have a nice group of core players and they wouldn’t be reliant on free agency to plug holes. But instead of pulling off a watershed draft, Idzik & Co. watered down the roster. The Jets’ record since then is 28-52.
The draft started on a bad note, as then-coach Rex Ryan unsuccessfully lobbied Idzik to trade up for wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Maybe it was bad karma, because it got progressively worse over the three-day draft.
The 2014 draft, which was loaded with talent, has produced 27 Pro Bowl players, according to Pro Football Reference. Of the 256 players selected, 115 have started at least one season. Only two Jets picks are on that list — Enunwa and safety Calvin Pryor, who washed out after being chosen No. 18 overall.
Here are a few more factoids about that ill-fated ’14 draft:
Only two of the 12 (Enunwa and Dozier) are currently on NFL rosters, but that isn’t the most staggering part. This is: Eight of the 12 picks were out of the league last season.
Eleven of the 12 have been cut at least once. Many have forgotten, but Enunwa was actually waived by the Jets as a rookie and added to the practice squad, where he began his journey to the starting lineup. All told, the 12 picks have been cut 44 times by 20 different teams. The leaders: Cornerback Dexter McDougle, linebacker Jeremiah George and cornerback Brandon Dixon each have been cut six times. The only unscathed player is Dozier, who left via free agency.
Only one of the 12 was cut after punching a teammate in the face — linebacker IK Enemkpali (see: Geno Smith).
The Jets managed to mine some talent from ’14 the second time around, signing linebackers Avery Williams (2018) and C.J. Mosley (2019) as free agents. It just cost them a lot more money than it would have the first time.
2. Mini-mock draft 1.0: The Jets have the No. 3 overall pick for the second year in a row. The previous time they had top-five picks in consecutive years was 1980-1981, when they selected wide receiver Lam Jones and running back Freeman McNeil, respectively.
The Jets drafted quarterback Sam Darnold at No. 3 in 2018. This year? Well, let’s go to the crystal ball for the top three picks.
Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB. The Cards already have a quarterback (Josh Rosen) and Murray already had a professional career (baseball), but why let that stuff get in the way of a draft-day marriage? I happen to believe Murray will be Baker Mayfield, except faster.
San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, DE. The recent trade for outside linebacker Dee Ford doesn’t mean the Niners are out of the edge-rusher market. It would be a surprise if they take defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, although some believe he’s the cleanest player in the draft.
Jets: Williams, DT. Personally, I would take linebacker Josh Allen because he fills a bigger need, but general manager Mike Maccagnan believes in best-player-available. Williams is an elite prospect whose only negative, if you could call it that, is that he was a one-year star in college. Maccagnan can’t afford to screw this up, so he’ll go with the safest pick even though it makes more sense to pick an edge rusher. He won’t have to make the decision if he trades the pick, which is a possibility.
3. Quinnen, freaky beast: Leonard Williams has worked out this offseason at the Mamba Sports Academy in the Los Angeles area. So has Quinnen Williams (no relation). They’ve talked a little bit, and Leonard likes what he sees and hears.
“He’s a freak,” Leonard said. “I’ve seen him. He’s fast, and he’s big and strong. The tape doesn’t lie. He’s a beast.”
Williams said Quinnen has a “childlike” personality, but he meant that as a compliment. He described the Alabama product as humble and wide-eyed despite his tremendous success in college.
“He was kind of fanning over me a little bit,” Leonard said. “He was like, ‘Oh, what’s up, man?’ He was trying to take a picture with me. I thought it was so funny because I remember being in that position.”
4. Sleeper at QB: I’ve heard intriguing reports on the Jets’ new quarterback, Brandon Silvers, who played most recently with the Memphis Express of the now-suspended Alliance of American Football. He’s a natural passer with excellent lower-body mechanics. He throws a nice “go” route. As one AAF coach said, “This guy moves the ball and scores points.”
Silvers, who began the AAF season behind former Jets bust Christian Hackenberg, was slowed by a pulled oblique muscle. Once he got healthy, he put up some respectable numbers — 777 yards, four touchdowns and one interception in three starts. Let’s go back to college: In his final year at Troy University (2017), he beat LSU in Death Valley — and that’s not easy to do.
Silvers, who also drew interest from the Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars, joins Trevor Siemian and Davis Webb as Darnold’s backups. They’re not going to keep four quarterbacks (been there, done that), so the competition should be keen.
5. Tebow remembers Gase: The Jets hired coach Adam Gase in large part because of his expertise with quarterbacks. His first high-profile student was Tim Tebow, a Denver Broncos rookie in 2010. Gase also was Tebow’s position coach in 2011, when Tebow Mania was born and the Broncos made the playoffs. Funny, but Gase never mentions Tebow when he lists the quarterbacks he has mentored.
Anyway, I caught up with Tebow the other day in Syracuse, New York, for a story about his baseball career, and he had some good things to say about the Jets’ new coach.
“He’s a really nice guy,” Tebow said. “He’s very passionate. He loves football. He’s all-the-time football, just football, football, football. He cares about his players. I really enjoyed that about him. He’s open to doing it different ways. He learned a lot then. I can only imagine now how much more he’s picked up. He just soaked in all sorts of different concepts, from Mike Martz to all these different systems. He’s such a football guy.”
6. The year he’d like to forget: This was my first interview with Tebow since his one and only season with the Jets (2012), which turned into a disaster for all parties. The team traded for Tebow with the idea of making him a multi-purpose weapon, mainly a Wildcat quarterback, but they never executed the plan. The entire Tebow experiment was an embarrassment for the franchise and it effectively ended his NFL career. When asked about that year, Tebow made it clear he didn’t want to go there again.
“It was a very interesting year, a lot of highs and lows,” he said. “Obviously, I don’t think it went the way anybody had hoped. I think I learned a lot from it, on a personal level, handling things.
“It was very interesting,” he added, revealing a smile that said what his words didn’t.