Several months ago, when giving an interview on the Mike Francesa Show, New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan gave his philosophy on developing quarterbacks: draft one every year until you find the right one. In his first year, Maccagnan followed that philosophy, using a 4th round pick on Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty after trading for Ryan Fitzpatrick as a temporary solution. Petty was never in danger of seeing the field, as Fitzpatrick had the best season of his career and Geno Smith was serviceable in relief.
As of today, the Jets quarterback situation is still unclear. There are three main frontrunners: Fitzpatrick (if he and the Jets can agree on a contract), Geno Smith (playing for his NFL life in the last year of his career), or current Browns QB Josh McCown (likely acquired for a late draft pick in the same method Fitzpatrick was last year). The backup, and “quarterback of the future” role, however, is more up in the air.
Petty will enter Jets training camp a year removed from his time at Baylor, where he was a 2-year starter in a spread, high tempo volume-passing system. He looked solid in his preseason performances and looked to be grasping Chan Gailey’s offense, which differed greatly from the one he ran with Baylor. He will enter the new season with a strong chance to be the backup behind whomever the Jets settle on and then compete for a starting job in his 3rd year.
However, with Maccagnan’s mindset, there is more than a good chance that Gang Green grabs a quarterback at some point in this draft to compete with Petty. According to the experts, it appears that at least two (Carson Wentz and Jared Goff) if not three (Paxton Lynch) quarterbacks will be off the board by the time the Jets pick at 20 in the first round. Because of this fact and the outstanding needs they have at offensive line and outside linebacker, I doubt the Jets would reach for a quarterback here. However, there could be the perfect steal waiting for them when their second round pick rolls around: Michigan State QB Connor Cook.
Cook has all the measurable of an NFL QB. He stands 6 foot 4, weighs 220 pounds. He has been a 4-year starter at Michigan State in a pro-style offense, giving him a much shorter learning curve than someone like Petty had. While his problems with accuracy and handling the blitz do make him a work in progress, his upside (and the Jets strong job addressing their other needs through free agency this offseason) make him worth a second round pick.
Cook and Petty could then compete (possibly with Geno Smith as well) for the backup spot behind whoever ends up being the Jets starter this year. They could then continue to develop with an eye for the future. There is little doubt that Maccagnan is carefully considering the 2016 QB Draft Class for his team, and I believe that he will land on Cook.