The New York Jets went into the 2014 draft thinking it would be a turning point for the franchise. With 12 picks, they expected to replenish a talent-starved roster and accelerate their rebuilding process.
They couldn't have been more wrong. Their so-called watershed draft has put them underwater, and the current general manager, Mike Maccagnan, is holding his breath, hoping he has enough time to repair the damage.
Will he pay for the sins of his predecessor, John Idzik? Only owner Woody Johnson can answer that question. When he evaluates Maccagnan and his lieutenants after the 2017 season, the billionaire boss man needs to remember 2014 was the draft equivalent of the butt fumble.
The utter ineptitude was hammered home Thursday, when the Jets traded underachieving safety Calvin Pryor (first round, 2014) to the Cleveland Browns, reacquiring linebacker Demario Davis. He was the Jets' third-round pick in 2012, another terrible draft.
Counting Davis, the current Jets roster includes only six players from the 2012, 2013 and 2014 drafts. One of them, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, has been on the trading block since October. The Maccagnan-Todd Bowles regime has dumped three former first-round picks -- Quinton Coples (2012), Dee Milliner (2013) and Pryor. Richardson would make four.
Coples and Milliner are out of the league, so it's not as if they were just bad fits for the Jets. A franchise known for poor drafting (Ken O'Brien over Dan Marino in '83) hit a major dry spell from 2012 to 2014 under two different GMs, Mike Tannenbaum and Idzik. At least Tannenbaum enjoyed early success during his seven-year run; Idzik was a disaster.
His 2014 draft -- known by media types as the Idzik 12 -- will go down as one of the worst in team history. Only three of the 12 picks remain on the roster -- starting wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (sixth round), backup guard Dakota Dozier (fourth) and marginal cornerback Dexter McDougle (third).
That's a Tebow-esque batting average.
That draft was an exercise in what not to do. The Jets didn't make a single trade during the draft; they sat on their hands instead of packaging multiple picks to move up for better players. They reached for need ... over and over and over. They overcompensated, picking three receivers and three defensive backs. They also selected three players with arrest records, including linebacker IK Enemkpali, who later punched quarterback Geno Smith, a draft mistake from the previous year.
You can't make this stuff up.
The Jets picked Pryor because they felt he'd be a Kam Chancellor-type enforcer in the secondary. Chosen among the next few picks were wide receiver Brandin Cooks and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who has been to a Pro Bowl. Now the New England Patriots have Cooks, and the Jets will have to figure out a way to cover him this fall with a secondary that has been overhauled twice in the last three years.
The second round was loaded with talent, but the Jets picked tight end Jace Amaro because they fell in love with his overstuffed receiving stats in college. They cut him after two years, and now he's hanging by a thread with the Tennessee Titans. Instead of Amaro, the Jets could've had Davante Adams, Allen Robinson or Jarvis Landry -- three terrific receivers -- or quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
In the fourth round, then-coach Rex Ryan implored Idzik to take wide receiver Martavis Bryant. Ryan's pleas fell on deaf ears, as Idzik selected Smurf-sized Jalen Saunders and Shaquelle Evans, a couple of receivers currently out of the league. Bryant has endured his share of off-the-field issues, but there's no denying his talent.
Ryan's disappointment over Bryant didn't stop him from saying after the draft, "To be honest with you, I'm not so sure there's too many teams that want to play us." Boy, was he wrong. The Jets were a dysfunctional mess, finished 4-12, and everybody got fired.
The 2014 class is entering its fourth season, and those players should comprise the nucleus of the team. They should be in their prime years, making final pushes for second contracts. But there is none of that. There is only a massive void in the roster, one that is threatening the men trying to fill it.