The New York Jets, sitting in the No. 6 spot in the upcoming NFL draft, are actively trying to trade down in the first round. That should come as no surprise, considering general manager Mike Maccagnan has shouted from the rooftops that he'd like to move back to accumulate extra picks.
What are the chances of making it happen? Well, consider this: The last Jets decision-maker who traded down with a high pick was Bill Parcells in 1997. He moved down twice, going from No. 1 to No. 6 to No. 8, finally selecting James Farrior and picking up a handful of additional picks that turned out to be role players at best. Oh, by the way, he passed on two future Hall of Fame tackles in the process, Orlando Pace and Walter Jones.
In fact, this is the 20-year anniversary of that draft (April 19, 1997), which will be remembered in Jets history as The Year Peyton Manning Blew Off The Jets And Decided To Stay In School.
In 2005, then-GM Terry Bradway bailed out of the first round completely, but it was a different set of circumstances because he was at the bottom of the round (26th pick). Desperate for a tight end, he dealt that pick for a package that included Doug Jolley and a second-rounder. What a disaster that turned out to be.
Since then, every Jets GM has talked about hoarding picks and replenishing the roster, but it hasn't happened because they didn't have the opportunity or the conviction in their draft board to slide backward. Don't get your hopes up about Maccagnan busting the trend on April 27.
"I wouldn’t be overly confident if I were a Jets fan that I’d be able to get a deal to move back," ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said Tuesday.
McShay's opinion is based on two reasons: This is a talent-rich draft, especially in the second and third rounds, and teams will be reluctant to part with those picks to move up. Secondly, which player in the top 10 could be considered by a team as a must-have?
As McShay explained, "Why would I move up for Jamal Adams and give away picks, when I can get Malik Hooker? Why would I move up for Jonathan Allen or Solomon Thomas, when I can keep my second-round pick and get the other guy? There are too many players with similar grades for teams to trade up."
There's one variable: The quarterback factor. In theory, teams such as the Cleveland Browns (12th) and Arizona Cardinals (13th) might be willing to move up for Mitchell Trubisky or Deshaun Watson. Problem is, everybody in the league knows the Jets have been exploring the top quarterbacks, so you'd have to believe one of those teams would move ahead of the Jets to grab the signal-caller of their choice.
Plus, there's always the chance the Jets, stuck in their own quarterback quagmire, could pick Trubisky or Watson for themselves at No. 6.
Moral of the story: When they're on the clock at No. 6, the Jets should have a player they like a whole lot because there's a good chance they'll be stuck in that spot.
With the exception of John Idzik, who did no wheeling and dealing on draft day, Maccagnan's predecessors have been proactive. But there's a fine line between aggressiveness and panic. There have been six trade-up moves in the first round over the past 20 years, only two of which produced a positive result.
In 2000, Parcells moved up four spots at took Shaun Ellis at No. 12, grabbing John Abraham with the next pick (acquired in the Keyshawn Johnson trade). In 2007, Mike Tannenbaum jumped up 11 spots to pick Darrelle Revis at 14. You can't argue with those decisions. In 2001, Bradway climbed three spots for Santana Moss at 16, a harmless move.
In the other instances, they let desperation overtake common sense.
In 2003, Bradway panicked, trading two first-round picks to move up nine spots for Dewayne Robertson at No. 4. Oy vey. In 2008, Tannenbaum traded up into the bottom of the first round because he had to have Dustin Keller. The following year, their quarterback need was so acute that Tannenbaum made a bold move for Mark Sanchez, a 12-spot jump. The only saving grace was that it cost only a second-round pick and three marginal players.
Now the pressure is on Maccagnan: Up? Down? Stay at six?
Bet the latter.