The New York Jets and their top college-talent evaluator likely will part ways in the coming weeks, league sources told ESPNNewYork.com on Tuesday, creating a cloud of uncertainty in the organization as it prepares for a critical draft later this week.
Joey Clinkscales, the Jets' vice president of college scouting since 2008, has drawn interest from the Oakland Raiders, sources said. A final decision hasn't been made, but some believe there will be a mutual parting, with Clinkscales leaving for what would appear to be a lateral move to work under new Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie.
"The most important thing for us right now is the 2012 draft and that's our focus," general manager Mike Tannenbaum said in a statement, responding to a question about Clinkscales' future.
The Jets, coming off a disappointing 8-8 season after two consecutive trips to the AFC championship game, are shaking things up. They changed offensive coordinators, replacing Brian Schottenheimer with former Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano, and they recently hired a new team president, Neil Glat.
If they hire a new person to oversee college scouting, it could trigger significant turnover among the scouts.
Clinkscales, who spent his first 13 years with the Jets as a scout, runs the draft for Tannenbaum. He ascended to that role at a time when the team was coming off two stellar drafts. In 2006 and 2007, they drafted D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis and David Harris.
But, in 2008, the Jets missed badly, selecting linebacker Vernon Gholston with the sixth overall choice. He lasted only three seasons, failing to record a single sack while costing them $20 million in guarantees. He was out of the league last season.
"You learn from those mistakes," Clinkscales said last week at a news conference.
Over the past three years, the Jets were active in the trade market and drafted only 13 players, including four current starters. No draft pick since Revis has made a Pro Bowl.
The seminal drafting moment under Tannenbaum and Clinkscales came in 2009, when they traded up in the first round to take quarterback Mark Sanchez with the fifth overall choice. Sanchez won four playoff games in his first two seasons, but the luster dimmed when his play regressed in 2011. They traded for Tim Tebow last month, creating an immediate threat to Sanchez's job.
For years, the Jets have prided themselves on continuity in the draft room. The three most influential voices, Tannenbaum, Clinkscales and senior personnel executive Terry Bradway, have been with the Jets for a combined 43 years. There also has been little turnover among the scouts in recent years.
"Under pressure situations, we know how each other will respond -- and that makes it easier," Clinkscales said last week. "Nobody in here is thin-skinned. Some things are said, but nobody takes it personally because we've all done this before and we get along."
Clinkscales interviewed for St. Louis Rams' GM vacancy earlier in the offseason. In 2008, he interviewed for the same position with the Dolphins. In Oakland, he'd work under McKenzie, a longtime friend. They were college teammates at Tennessee in the 1980s.
Information from ESPN's Sal Paolantonio contributed to this report.