“Smart, fast, tough, physical, he’s an alpha,” Bowles said. “He’s good on and off the field. He checks all the boxes for us.”
Credit Matt Rourke/Associated Press
Adams, in a conference call, indicated that he was as surprised as the Jets were that he had dropped to No. 6. The last time fortune swung their way, when defensive lineman Leonard Williams slipped to them at No. 6 in 2015, Maccagnan had a sense late in the process, he said, that it could happen.
This year, the first clue did not materialize until after the draft had begun. After Cleveland took defensive end Myles Garrett of Texas A&M with the first selection, as expected, Chicago traded up one spot to select quarterback Mitchell Trubisky of North Carolina in a move that ostensibly diminished Maccagnan’s stated desire to trade down.
San Francisco followed by grabbing Solomon Thomas of Stanford, a defensive end — a position that is one of the Jets’ few strengths. Jacksonville’s decision to take Adams’s college teammate, running back Leonard Fournette, at No. 4, coupled with Tennessee’s choosing receiver Corey Davis of Western Michigan at No. 5, gifted the Jets with Adams.
“We never really had him getting to us,” Maccagnan said.
For weeks Maccagnan had been proclaiming his desire to amass more draft selections for the Jets. In a recent conversation with another general manager, whose team had more than the Jets’ seven, Maccagnan said that he had “pick envy.”
He would not say how many choices would appease him, but he subscribes to Bill Belichick’s philosophy in New England: The more picks a team has, the better chance it has of finding productive players. And the Jets, after bumbling to a 5-11 record last season and purging their roster of high-priced talent like Brandon Marshall and Nick Mangold, need productive players.
Not many options materialized, and Maccagnan stayed true to the organization’s affinity for defense: For the eighth consecutive year, the Jets drafted a defensive player in the first round.
The scouting of football players has given rise to a new language. It’s barely intelligible.
By taking Adams, Maccagnan essentially snubbed every other quarterback except for Trubisky. Maccagnan deflected questions Thursday about Trubisky and whether he considered taking Deshaun Watson of Clemson, who was later chosen No. 12 by Houston.
Last year, Maccagnan used a second-round pick on a project quarterback, Christian Hackenberg, whose presence and potential hardly dissuaded the Jets from holding private workouts for Trubisky, Watson and two other top quarterbacks, Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech) and DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame). Mahomes was selected by Kansas City with the 10th pick.
Maccagnan dismissed the Jets’ extensive legwork as routine preparation, saying the importance of the position demanded a thorough search every year. But teams with stable or promising quarterback situations — Josh McCown, who turns 38 in July and was 2-20 as a starter across the last three seasons, is atop the Jets’ depth chart — do not invest that kind of time and effort unless their interest is sincere.
Maccagnan has chosen a quarterback in the last two drafts — Bryce Petty, in the fourth round in 2015, preceded Hackenberg — and he will most likely consider taking another. The Jets hold three picks for Friday: No. 39, in the second round, and Nos. 70 and 107 in the third.
They could also use those selections to upgrade at cornerback, an edge rusher, tight end, offensive line or running back — all areas of need. But not at safety, where the Jets believe they have found an elite performer.
Adams foretold as much as a boy, when he bet his father, George, a former running back for the Giants, that he would get drafted higher. George went 19th over all in 1985.
“I’ll just let him continue to pay for the dinner tab,” Jamal said.