Every offseason it takes an eternity for the NFL Draft to arrive. This year it has taken an eternity plus two weeks.
But today the draft is upon us. And soon we'll see the fruits of our team's labors over the last year.
I can tell Jets Nation that having talked with John Idzik, Rex Ryan, Jeff Bauer, Terry Bradway and others directly involved in our draft that they are ready to rock and roll. The handshakes are firm and no nerves are detectable, just a confident readiness to let the chips fall where they may.
And this year the Jets have those 12 chips. What will that mean for us this offseason and into the 2014 preseason?
For one, it means maximum flexibility. Four of those picks are compensatories and so can't be traded. But that leaves eight that can be. They can be used to secure a player just out of our reach at 18, 49, 80 or elsewhere in the seven rounds. They can be used to acquire a player from another team in trade.
But I wouldn't expect general manager John Idzik to deal away too many picks. It's one of the differences so far between him and former GM Mike Tannenbaum. In the seven drafts from 2006-12, Mr. T started out with 54 picks — 49 of our own and five compensatories. He spent only 18 of our picks (2.6 per year), brought in 23 from the outside in trades with other teams (3.3), and sent out 43 selections (6.1).
For last year's draft, Idzik acquired one pick (the 13th overall choice from Tampa Bay for Darrelle Revis that became Sheldon Richardson), traded away one slot (fourth-rounder to New Orleans for RB Chris Ivory) and spent six of our own picks.
This is to say only that there are different styles at work. Tannenbaum's style worked well in some instances (to get Revis and David Harris in '07, Dustin Keller in '08 and Jeremy Kerley in '11, for instance) and not so productively in others.
The jury's still deliberating on Idzik's first Jets draft, as we see how fifth-rounder Oday Aboushi and No. 6 Will Campbell shake out this year and beyond and we see how 1A (Dee Milliner), 1B (Richardson), 2 (Geno Smith), 3 (Brian Winters), 4 (Ivory) and 7 (Tommy Bohanon) continue to improve and produce. But last year's picks look well-spent so far.
For any team having 12 picks, a premium is placed on all the work the college scouting department put in for the previous year. The last time we had 12 selections in one draft was 1998, not a dazzling year by any means (fourth-round T Jason Fabini was the best selection) but still a draft that stocked us for our run to the AFC Championship Game in Denver.
And we're the fifth NFL team in the last five years to have at least nine picks in a four-round span. Four of those five teams went on to post winning records and enter the playoffs. One of those four was the Seahawks last year. And Idzik from 2007-12 helped to craft the foundation in Seattle that produced February's Super Bowl triumph.
As senior director of college scouting Terry Bradway, the former GM, said last week:
"I know a lot is placed on the first two rounds. But for our scouts, Saturday's going to be a fun day, not only with our picks but with the emphasis John has placed on CFA [college free agent] signings. It's going to be a good day."
Of course, much of this predraft monologue is anecdotal. Washington had 12 total picks in 2011 and nine in the last day and still went 5-11. The Jets had 14 picks in the 12-round 1990 draft and went on to an underwhelming 6-10.
This doesn't have to be a 1977 Green & White draft. That year we hit home runs with T Marvin Powell, WR Wesley Walker, DT Joe Klecko, G Dan Alexander and RBs Scott Dierking and Kevin Long. It does have to be a solid draft to help us put the next piece to the puzzle in place for 2014. I may be an eternal optimist, but I see a very solid set of double-digit picks ahead for the Jets over the next three days.