A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:
1. Lucky 13: One of the themes that has emerged from Mike Maccagnan's first two drafts is that he prefers intelligent football players with no off-the-field issues. He has picked a total of 13 players, and not one has a known red flag in his background -- unusual in the current NFL. This is the right approach for a new regime. Once you've established a locker-room culture, it becomes easier to gamble on a character risk. For now, it makes sense to fill the room with solid citizens -- and smart players.
Most of the current draft class posted above-average scores on the Wonderlic intelligence test (max grade: 50). In fact, Jordan Jenkins (33) and Darron Lee (31) were among the highest for linebackers. (Joe Schobert, drafted by the Cleveland Browns, led with a 36.) I spoke to scouts from two different teams, and they both described Jenkins and Lee as quality individuals. Lee is mature and polished, which came through in his first news conference at the Jets' facility. Jenkins is "a classy kid," one NFC scout told me.
Cornerback Juston Burris (27) and punter Lachlan Edwards (30) also scored high for their respective positions. Quarterback Christian Hackenberg (24) and wide receiver Charone Peake (18) were average, and tackle Brandon Shell (17) was below average, based on their positions.
2. Exception to the rule: By now, you probably know the Jets tried to trade up for Laremy Tunsil, the tackle who fell to 13th because of the bong-smoking video that surfaced as the draft started. Clearly, Maccagnan was willing to deviate from his goody-two-shoes philosophy for Tunsil, who was rated as one of the top players on the Jets' draft board. A double standard? Here's how I see it: Maccagnan was so confident in his prep work on Tunsil that, unlike some GMs, he didn't freak out upon seeing the video. I know of one team in the top 12 that did an about-face on Tunsil as soon as the video made it to their draft room.
Let's be honest, though: Maccagnan didn't try to trade up for Tunsil as much as he tried to steal him. He thought he smelled a fire sale. He offered the New York Giants, picking 10th, a second-round pick to swap places in the first round, according to the New York Daily News. That was a Ryan Fitzpatrick-type of offer, meaning below the market price, based on the draft-trade chart used by teams. He called other teams, too, finding no takers.
3. Always thinking big: Another two-year trend has developed with Maccagnan's drafting: He's not a small-school kind of GM, as 11 of the 13 picks came from the Power 5 conferences. The only exceptions were seventh-round picks: Nose tackle Deon Simon (Northwestern State, 2015) and Edwards (Sam Houston State, 2016).
4. Attack on Hack: Wow, the analytics people are really down on Hackenberg. Football Outsiders, which cooked up a formula that uses college stats to project NFL performance, essentially says Hackenberg will be a bust. It has a ranking system called QBASE (Quarterback Adjusted Stats and Experience), and no quarterback in QBASE's database (top-100 picks since 1996) has succeeded in the NFL with college stats similar to those of Hackenberg. Other top-100 picks who completed under 55 percent in the final college season were Brock Huard, Dave Ragone, Kyle Boller, Marques Tuiasosopo and Quincy Carter -- all flops.
Like I said during the draft, I think the Jets reached for Hackenberg in the second round, but they looked past the numbers, relying on their scouting instincts. Time will tell if they're right. If Hackenberg succeeds, he will be a statistical anomaly.
5. Hack vs. Geno vs. Bryce: In their seemingly endless search for a franchise quarterback, the Jets have accumulated three high-profile former college passers. I asked ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay to compare Hackenberg, Geno Smith and Bryce Petty, based on their draft grades.
"I think [Petty] has a lower ceiling than Hackenberg," McShay said. "Ultimately, Hackenberg, from a pro-style system and his skill set, has the greatest upside of that group. But he's the furthest away in terms of accuracy of those three."
McShay said Petty "had the best leadership and football character of all those guys," which I found interesting. Basically, the Jets have three players with different strengths and different weaknesses, and they have to hope one of them has enough good stuff to develop.
6. Fitz-Hackenberg connections: If Fitzpatrick and Hackenberg end up in the same quarterback room, they will have two common denominators -- Bill O'Brien and Jordan Palmer.
Both quarterbacks played for O'Brien, Hackenberg in 2013 (Penn State), Fitzpatrick in 2014 (Houston Texans). Fitzpatrick told me last season he learned more in one year under O'Brien than under any of his previous coaches. Fitzpatrick is close friends with former Cincinnati Bengals teammate Carson Palmer, the older brother of Jordan Palmer, Hackenberg's personal QB coach during the pre-draft process.
Small world, right?
7. Looking for a hybrid: Maccagnan said in a radio interview the Jets looked into signing safety-turned-linebacker Mark Barron as a free agent. That should've been an indication they were in the market for a big safety/small linebacker, and they found it with Lee. Barron ended up re-signing with the Los Angeles Rams.
8. Fountain of Youth: Maccagnan made it a point of mentioning that Lee and Hackenberg are relatively young for incoming rookies. He's right. Of the 31 players drafted by AFC East teams, Hackenberg (21 years, 91 days) and Lee (21 years, 200 days) are the second- and third-youngest. The youngest is Miami Dolphins tight end Thomas Duarte (21 years, 38 days). What does it mean? I'm not sure. All I know is, Hackenberg and Duarte were born when I was covering the Rich Kotite Jets, and that's rather scary.
9. Keeping the light on: Todd Bowles said he hasn't shut the door in re-signing linebacker Calvin Pace and/or cornerback Antonio Cromartie. Right now they have a greater need for Pace because of the inexperience at outside linebacker. The smart play: Evaluate the kids through the June minicamp, and perhaps into the early of portion of training camp. If they're struggling, summon the graybeard from the bullpen.
10. The last rookie camp? Bowles admitted he considered the possibility of cancelling on-field drills in favor of classroom work, a growing trend around the league. He decided to stick to a traditional minicamp because of Hackenberg.
"If we didn't draft a quarterback, I wasn't going to have one, either," he said, adding that rookie quarterbacks need the mental reps on the field.