Well it’s finally here…almost. We’ve hit the eve of the NFL draft and the Jets have a New York-sized boat of questions to answer tomorrow. Does general manager Mike Tannenbaum decide to sit tight at 17th overall and fill the Jets’ recieving void with Maryland speedster Darrius Heyward-Bey or Florida’s Percy Harvin? Does he choose to beef up the team’s paper-thin tight end corps and select Oklahoma State’s Brandon Pettigrew? Does he again decide to pull the plug on Kellen Clemens’ opportunity and grab Southern California’s Mark Sanchez or Kansas State’s Josh Freeman, or spin a deal for Jason Campbell or Brady Quinn? Does he surprise everyone and continue to build upon Rex Ryan’s revamped defense? No matter what direction the Jets choose, Ryan’s first draft day figures to be filled with drama.
The most appealing move for the Jets would be to deal for Sanchez, but that opportunity will be contingent on him slipping to eighth overall (Jaguars). Sanchez would instantly give owner Woody Johnson a face to market for the team’s new stadium in 2010, yet the cost could be too heavy for the team to handle. The Jets only have six draft picks and trading into the top ten would cost them atleast two of those.
Sanchez’s performance in last year’s Rose Bowl against a dominant Penn State defense (28-35, 413 yards, four TD) is hard to ignore, however that was just one of his 16 career starts. That is not exactly a thick track record for a quarterback looking to become the face of the franchise. The discussion, of course, could turn into a moot point for the Jets if Sanchez is selected before the Jaguars’ slot or if the Redskins deliver a sweeter trade offer.
The Jets’ desire for a quarterback is certainly understandable because they currently have the most unproven tandem in the league. Clemens started just eight games in 2007 and struggled behind a pourous offensive line (five TD, ten INT) and Ratliff has never taken a snap during a regular season game. However, Gang Green’s interest in Sanchez continues to beg the question…when do the Jets finally commit to Clemens? Their romance with other quarterbacks began last August when they shipped draft picks to the Packers for Brett Favre and then continued last month when Jay Cutler begged his way out of Denver.
Clemens ran with his opportunity and performed admirably at last week’s voluntary minicamp. He’s preparing as if he will lead the Jets next season and has been in midst of praise from Ryan, who’s hoping to build a run-based offense. Will he get that chance? The clouds will likely clear tomorrow.
The Jets could grab a cap casualty later this offseason (Marc Bulger?) but Clemens opportunity will likely depend on the Jets’ pickings tomorrow. If Sanchez or Freeman is available, will the Jets come calling? Gang Green’s war room is already filled will questions and the answers are soon to pour out.
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