After a calamitous six-win season when just about everything that could go wrong did, the New York Jets hired a new general manager (John Idzik from Seattle), dealt their franchise defensive star (Darrelle Revis to Tampa) and entered Thursday's first round of the draft with any number of potential moves.
That included everything from offering some offensive weapons – or protection – to embattled quarterback Mark Sanchez to rattling Sanchez's sense of security by drafting a potential replacement.
Instead the Jets went old school, or the old ways of coach Rex Ryan, and added defensive help with two first-round picks. Or, – as Idzik described ninth overall pick Dee Milliner, a cornerback out of Alabama, and 13th selection Sheldon Richardson, a defensive lineman from Missouri – the best players available.
On a team in clear rebuilding mode, talent – regardless of position – was deemed critical.
"We selected two of our top-four players on our board," Idzik told the media in New York. "Period."
"Those two guys," Ryan said, "are going to make an impact for us."
There is little question about their ability. Milliner was almost universally hailed the top defensive back in the draft after performing shutdown duties for the national champion Crimson Tide. With the loss of Revis, the need for another defensive back, especially a young one to line up across from veteran Antonio Cromartie, was obvious.
The Jets were thrilled that Milliner, who many mock drafts had as a top-five pick, dropped to them. Their only concern was the comparisons to Revis.
"Nobody replaces Revis," Ryan said. "We want Dee to be himself. He's a great player. [He doesn't] have to worry about trying to be compared to Darrelle Revis."
Maybe not inside the franchise – at least to start. Across New York, however, that'll be the expectation. Fair or not.
"I'm not focused or worried about that," Milliner said.
Richardson, meanwhile, brings the potential of a big, bruising defensive lineman more than capable of disrupting quarterbacks. He's everything that Ryan, a former Baltimore defensive coordinator, likes to build around.
"Stopping offenses is what I do," Richardson said, and, yes, that attitude ought to work.
Still, the issues on offense continue to loom. Sanchez has regressed. His receiving corps is subpar. His protection could be better. Critics contend that a lack of competition during his four-season career with the Jets has led to a complacency that has curbed his development.
Oh, and Tim Tebow is still on the roster.
Perhaps the most reassuring thing for Jets fans was the calm rationale and planned approach that Idzik brought to his first New York draft. He was brought in from Seattle, in part, because of the Seahawks' smart selections in recent years – most obvious being last year's pick of Russell Wilson.
Idzik didn't reach this time, though. He went with what the homework and strategy said, and he didn't leap at a glamour offensive player.
"You're tempted," Idzik said. "But you're not going to succumb to temptation. You're going to stick to what you believe in: If you've got players on your board that you highly value, then you're going to stick to your talent base."
Besides, the Wilson pick came in the third round. So, as Idzik reminded, there is still plenty of time to help the offense. The draft continues through Saturday.
Sanchez might still get some receiving help or a promising quarterback – only E.J. Manuel was taken in the first round – to push him for the starting job. There is a lot of draft ahead. On Day 1, Idzik did fine.
Two top-13 picks, and the Jets went all defense. Someone to help with the loss of Revis. Someone to put the heat on Tom Brady.
A new-look Jets front office delivered old-school additions.
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