COMMENTARY | One fun aspect of the NFL offseason is that it gives us time to look back on recent history and see where astounding things have happened. When looking back on recent drafts by the New York Jets, one of them stands out to an extreme extent.
Without a doubt, the worst Jets' draft in recent history (and possibly of all time) was the 2009 draft. I will take a look at what went wrong and how it could have gone radically better.
Incredibly enough, quarterback Mark Sanchez is the only player left on the Jets' roster from the 2009 draft. If he does not win the starting job this summer, the Jets might play out the 2013 season without using any of their 2009 draft selections.
The 2009 draft got off to a bad start when the Jets traded away their first and second picks for the fifth overall selection to take Mark Sanchez. To be fair, at the time Sanchez was a highly sought after prospect who was going to be picked in the first round by somebody. My real complaint with this pick is that the Jets already had the 17th overall pick. They should have simply waited until then to take Sanchez. No matter how you look at it, using both their first and second picks just to get Sanchez was a bad investment.
Things did not get better later on. Their third round pick went to running back Shonn Greene, who had one half of one good season in 2009 (the second half and the playoffs) but has been unimpressive since then. This summer he was allowed to leave in free agency.
After the third round, there was not much else. Then-general-manager Mike Tannenbaum traded away late-round picks like candy, and the Jets had only one late-round pick, a sixth rounder that was used on offensive guard Matt Slauson. Slauson was a decent pick for a sixth-rounder, and he was an average starter last season, but he too has been allowed to leave in free agency.
The result is that all that is left is Sanchez, and it is not clear that he has much value to the team heading into the future.
Who the Jets Could Have Had
Starting with the first round, if the Jets had simply kept their 17th overall pick, they could have most likely still gotten Sanchez. But even better than that, they could have picked wide receiver Percy Harvin. If there is one thing the Jets have lacked more than quarterback play in recent history, it has been wide receiver play, and Harvin is about as good as it gets (when healthy).
Had they avoided that Sanchez trade, the Jets could have used their second-round pick on LeSean McCoy, easily one of the best running backs in the NFL today. Between Harvin and McCoy, their offense would be dangerous no matter who their quarterback was.
The Jets grabbed Shonn Greene in the early third round by trading away their own third-rounder along with their fourth and seventh rounders. This was a fairly egregious trade by Tannenbaum, as giving up three picks to move up slightly within a round is an imbalanced trade. Let us pretend the Jets never made that trade. Then in the middle of the third round they could have taken Mike Wallace, another stud wide receiver to complement Harvin.
With the fourth rounder that the Jets have now kept in their possession, they could have drafted Austin Collie, a quality possession receiver who instead went to a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts. Three wide receivers might seem like an over-abundance, but the Jets have virtually no real quality at that position currently, and instead they could have had the best wide receiver group in the NFL.
In the sixth round (the Jets had no fifth-rounder in 2009), I am not going to change the pick. I like Matt Slauson, and even though he is no longer with the team, he was a solid contributor during two deep playoff runs. Congratulations Tannenbaum, you got one pick right that year.
Finally, the Jets still have a seventh-rounder to work with (because they did not make that foolish Shonn Greene trade in this reality). Unfortunately, none of the seventh-rounders from 2009 have demonstrated themselves to have been real gems yet. So I would have liked the Jets to take tight end Dan Gronkowski, if only so that he could guilt-trip his brother (Rob Gronkowski) prior to every match-up against the New England Patriots. Dan also would likely be capable of making the Jets' current roster, which is shallow at tight end.
Adding it Up
By avoiding two bad trades (Sanchez and Greene), in an ideal world the Jets could possess quite a formidable offense right now. Does it seem weird to spend an entire draft on offense? Sure, but that is what the Jets did in 2009 anyway. At least instead of being left only with a (likely) backup quarterback, they could have a dominant threesome at wide receiver and one of the best running backs in the league.
As a caveat, it is always worth noting that hindsight is 20/20 while foresight is usually much worse than that. Most NFL teams have had at least one atrocious draft. As for the Jets, that draft occurred in 2009.
Adam Waksman is a Yahoo! contributor in sports. He also covers the New York Jets for Bleacher Report, where he is a Featured Columnist and award-winning blogger.
You can follow Adam on Twitter here.
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