Quarterbacks: The Jets, The Combine & Beyond

Posted Feb 16, 2015

Green & White Hierarchy Evaluating Geno Smith, Researching Options in Free Agency & the Draft

This is the fifth in a series of articles examining the Jets position by position in advance of the NFL Combine workouts in Indianapolis beginning Thursday, Feb. 19, and the start of the free agency signing period March 10.

Today: Quarterbacks

The new football hierarchy of GM Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles played it down the middle on QB Geno Smith at their January news conference.

"I’m excited about working with Geno and getting to know him a little bit better," said Maccagnan. "But I would say with Todd and the staff, we need to really sit down and go through this roster to kind of get an idea of what we want to do schematically. I’m looking forward to working with him."

Smith suffered through a sophomore jinx of a season. Most important, his starting record fell from 8-8 to 3-10. The offense's passing yardage (from 31st to 32nd) and scoring rankings (29th to 28th) were level.

However, he did improve in his personal giveaways (from 25 as a rookie to 16) and passer rating (from 66.3 to 77.5). And he continued to show he'll battle at all times. You could say his season finale showing was too little, too late, but his 20-for-25 day, career-high 358 yards, three TDs and perfect 158.3 rating were impressive considering the host Dolphins had a number of reasons to finish strong yet came up short in the 37-24 Jets win.

If Geno can collaborate with Bowles, OC Chan Gailey and staff to find a way to take his showing in Games 13-16 of both his Jets seasons (10 TDs, 4 INTs, 61.8% accuracy, 94.1 rating, 5-3 record) and spread it over a 16-game season, that would be sweet.

QBs on Jets' Roster

Matt Simms

■ Geno Smith

Michael Vick

Jets' Potential QB Free Agents

■ Michael Vick

QBs in the 2015 NFL Draft

It's that kind of a year, a Drew Bledsoe/Rick Mirer or Peyton Manning/Ryan Leaf kind of year. Only two quarterbacks figure to go in this year's first round — high in the first round — and everyone knows who they are. The team that picks second will of course want higher production than Mirer or Leaf provided. And the second team of course could be the Jets sitting at No. 6.

Jameis Winston has the entire on-field package with size, arm strength, accuracy and escapability in FSU's pro-style offense. (Do we quibble about the 18 interceptions to 25 touchdowns this past season? Probably not.) Then there is the off-field baggage, but nothing in the baggage yet has sent him packing out of the first six picks. Most mock drafters see him going first overall to Tampa Bay, such as all three draft analysts at

Yet a few, such as The Sporting News in its mock draft slideshow, flip that script, sending Mariota to the Buccaneers. And what's not to like? Mariota is a model citizen off the field and an outstanding performer (the title game against Ohio State notwithstanding) with gaudy stats (42 TDs, 4 INTs, 68.3% accuracy, 4,454 yards passing, 15 TDs rushing, one TD receiving). Yet it's in the Ducks' spread offense, which leaves draft analysts split on how quickly he'll be up to speed in a pro offense.

The TSN mock consequently has Winston falling to the Jets. But will we take either 6'4", 21-year-old prospect or will neither be available to us or will our value board dictate another player even if one of the QBs is there at six? There's lots of time for intrigue in the next three months.

Here are five of the top quarterbacks available in the upcoming draft, with projected round of selection, based on several online mock drafts and value boards, in parentheses:

■ Jameis Winston, Florida State (1)

■ Marcus Mariota, Oregon (1)

■ Brett Hundley, UCLA (2)

■ Garrett Grayson, Colorado State (3)

■ Bryce Petty, Baylor (3)

Top Potential NFL Free Agent QBs

It's true at most positions and it's true-squared at quarterback: Teams do not let the league's top signalcallers make it to free agency. On our list below is the Buffalo QB who beat us twice last year, the player we drafted in the first round in 2009, and several other QBs who, for different reasons, could be on the market. Not mentioned below is the ageless Matt Hasselbeck, late of the Colts (and 39 years old).

Here is a list of six quarterbacks who can become unrestricted free agents in March:

■ Brian Hoyer, Browns

■ Jake Locker, Titans

■ Josh McCown, Buccaneers

■ Matt Moore, Dolphins

■ Kyle Orton, Bills

■ Mark Sanchez, Eagles


READ: CBs/Safeties: The Jets, the Combine & Beyond

READ: Receivers: The Jets, the Combine & Beyond

WATCH: Maccagnan: Combine 'Like Christmas for Scouts'

WATCH: Combine Preview: Storylines in Indy

VIEW: Coaches and Scouts Prep for Indy

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