Mike Maccagnan, the Houston Texans' director of college scouting, has emerged as the frontrunner for the New York Jets' general manager position. On Friday, he will meet for the second time with team officials. He's not a household name, not even in the scouting community. Some background:
He's a native of Hightstown, New Jersey, and earned a degree in economics from Trinity (Connecticut) College. After graduating from Trinity, he served as an intern in the Washington Redskins' scouting department in 1990. From there, he went to the World League. He worked in the league's Dallas office as a scout before becoming the personnel director for the London Monarchs in 1991. He jumped to another league -- the CFL -- and spent three years in the personnel departments of Ottawa and Saskatchewan. This is what you call humble beginnings.
In 1994, Charley Casserly -- then the Washington Redskins' GM, now consulting for the Jets -- hired Maccagnan as a college scout, the start of a 20-year friendship. He moved to pro scouting the following year. When Casserly took over the expansion Texans in 2000, he brought along Maccagnan as a pro scout. A few months later, he was promoted to coordinator of college scouting. One promotion later, he was named director of college scouting in July 2011.
If Maccagnan is hired, he won't light up the news conference. People in the scouting community describe him as quiet and unassuming, most comfortable in a background role. He's had limited exposure to the media throughout his career. Some wonder whether he'll be able to handle the pressure of the New York spotlight. His supporters say claim that, while he doesn't have a dynamic personality, he has the ability to work well with people and isn't afraid to admit when he's wrong -- a quality former GM John Idzik never mastered.
One person who knows Maccagnan had this to say: "He's not a Hollywood type, but I've seen Hollywood types who couldn't stand in the middle of the Alabama locker room and pick out a single player."
Ultimately, the job comes down to finding talent. It's difficult to say how much input Maccagnan has had into the Texans' drafts; all we can do is judge the outcome. A recent study of the 2009-2013 drafts, conducted by USA Today, rated them 15th in the league. Obviously, they hit the jackpot with J.J. Watt (2011). Nearly all of their first- and second-rounders from 2009 to 2012 have panned out, but their two most recent drafts haven't yielded much at all. The last five drafts have produced only one Pro Bowl player -- Watt, who could be an all-time great.
The Texans haven't used a high draft pick on a quarterback since 2002, when they drafted David Carr No. 1 overall in the franchise's first year. If hired, Maccagnan could find himself in a position where he might have to pull the trigger on a quarterback. You'd certainly like to have someone who has been there, done that.
Maccagnan is the anti-Idzik in that he has no experience with the salary and negotiating contracts.