Sanchez's contract has an out after 2013, essentially meaning he has two years to earn a long-term job. By that time, the Jets should have figured out what they're going to do with Tim Tebow.
If neither of those two work out, grooming another quarterback could take years. Look at Sanchez, he was a top-five pick, and three years in, we haven't seen much progression.
If the Jets want to hedge their bets and set someone up to succeed Sanchez and/or Tebow if they fail, they should look into taking a developmental quarterback in the middle rounds.
If the Jets wanted someone in the third to fourth round range, two guys they could look at are Nick Foles from Arizona and Kirk Cousins from Michigan State.
Cousins had a solid career at Michigan State. He came up big in the clutch against Wisconsin and put up nice numbers. Many wonder if he was held back by a run-first offense, but his physical skills leave a lot to be desired.
Foles is more of a physical specimen. He has the tools to succeed, and his stats at Arizona were excellent. What gives scouts pause is that he throws interceptions. After seeing Sanchez do that for so long, the Jets might be wary on adding a gunslinger like Foles.
If the Jets really want to dig deep and go for a big-time project in the late rounds, there are definitely a few of those available with nice potential.
Russell Wilson led Wisconsin to an excellent season and was at one point considered a Heisman candidate. His main drawback is his height—he's only 5'11''. Nobody really knows what his potential is, some say he can't even be a backup, others have compared him to Drew Brees.
Given his inconsistent college career, he would need a few years of coaching to figure out the nuances of being an NFL quarterback, but there is definitely talent there and I think he could be a solid starter in the right system.
Kellen Moore is another name being thrown around as a sleeper. He is the winningest quarterback in college football history, and he had a terrific career at Boise State. If a few kicks would have gone through the uprights, he likely would have played in a national championship game at some point.
Like Tebow, he's a lefty and a winner. Unfortunately, he doesn't have Tebow's size or arm strength. I'd steer clear of Moore, he could be a solid backup but I just don't think he has the physical tools to be a long-term starter.
One other guy I'd look at is Florida's John Brantley. Brantley was thrown into an impossible situation at Florida—replacing Tim Tebow—then his head coach left before his senior year. If Brantley would have gone to any other big-time program and had a traditional career, he might have been looked at as a legitimate prospect. He has skills and an NFL body, he just never really had a chance. Some team should give him that chance late in the draft.
I think the Jets would be foolish not to take a quarterback at some point in the draft. Foles or Cousins may be out of the question, but they need to start preparing for the possibility that both of their current quarterbacks may fail.
I don't know if they will, but it's definitely a distinct possibility. The odds are against a later-round pick succeeding, but it's not like the cost is high. Even if Sanchez or Tebow works out, at least this gives the Jets a chance to find a long-term backup. I say that's worth a late-round pick.