How John Idzik Transformed the New York Jets in Just One Draft

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How John Idzik Transformed the New York Jets in Just One Draft
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When John Idzik took over as general manager of the New York Jets in January, he inherited what could best be categorized as a hot mess of a football team.

Well, Idzik has wasted no time in making his presence felt in the New York, and with a series of moves that began with the trade of arguably the team's best player and that culminated in the release of their most polarizing one, the New York Jets have become a very different team very quickly.

The first of those moves came in the week leading up to the 2013 NFL draft. On April 22, the Jets traded star cornerback Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the 13th overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft and a conditional pick next year.

The trade was met with very mixed reviews from the media and fans, but Idzik really didn't have a lot of choice in the matter.

Revis' contract expired after the 2013 season, owner Woody Johnson had made it abundantly clear that he wasn't interested in ponying up the boatload of money it would take to sign him to an extension and the Buccaneers were the only team with both the interest and the cap space to pull off a swap.

As Idzik told ESPN's Adam Schefter and Rich Cimini at the time, he was essentially making the best of a less-than-ideal situation.

It was never our intent to proactively go out and shop Darrelle. It was never our goal to have Darrelle leave the Jets. On the contrary, we wanted Darrelle to remain a Jet for the long term, ideally. But Tampa reached out and displayed a sincere and sustained interest in Darrelle.

That left the Jets with eight picks in the 2013 draft, including two in the top 15, and Idzik and the Jets were very aggressive in who they targeted, especially in the early rounds.

Round (Overall Pick)        

Player

1 (9)

Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

1 (13)

Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

2 (39)

Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

3 (72)

Brian Winters, OG, Kent State

4 (106)

Traded to Saints for RB Chris Ivory

5 (141)

Oday Oboushi, OG, Virginia

6 (178)

William Campbell, OG, Michigan

7 (215)

Tommy Bohanon, FB, Wake Forest

In Alabama's Milliner, the Jets procured the player that many considered the best cornerback prospect in this year's draft class and a potential replacement for Revis.

Richardson is an explosive 294-pound defensive lineman who should improve a mediocre Jets pass rush.

Brian Winters of Kent State is a probable 2013 starter at guard. Oboushi can play both guard and right tackle, and will at the very least provide depth on an offensive line that could use all the help it can get.

The Jets also swung a trade on Friday night, shipping their fourth-round pick to the Big Easy for running back Chris Ivory. The 25-year-old has shown flashes of talent in a limited role for the New Orleans Saints, rushing for more than 700 yards as a rookie and gaining at least 4.7 yards a carry in each of his three NFL seasons.

In New York, that role will all but certainly expand significantly, and if Ivory can keep that level of production up as a lead back, then a fourth-round pick is a small price to pay to procure his services.

Without question, the most talked-about draft pick the Jets made was the selection of West Virginia's Smith in the second round.

The Mountaineers' signal-caller was widely regarded as the top quarterback prospect in this year's draft, and the player that the media has already dubbed "Broadway Geno" wasted no time in telling Brian Costello of The New York Post that he views himself as the team's franchise quarterback.

I do believe so for a number of reasons. The main thing is I’m going to come in to practice. I’m going to come in to work. I’m going to compete daily. I’m going to do my best to better my teammates in order for us to win Super Bowls.

Generally speaking, the Jets' haul in the 2013 draft was met with favorable reviews. ESPN's Mel Kiper gave the Jets a "B" in his draft grades (highest among AFC East teams), stating that they deserve a "pretty good grade for hitting a few big needs," while Bleacher Report's Ty Schalter went even farther, giving the team an "A-".

Granted, this isn't to say that the draft was perfect. The selection of Richardson raised a few eyebrows given the presence of Muhammed Wilkerson and Quinton Coples on the roster, and the Jets didn't address holes at wide receiver, outside linebacker and safety.

However, with all things being considered, it was a solid draft. Idzik kept that momentum going on Monday, finally ending the Tim Tebow fiasco and releasing the wildly popular and wildly inaccurate quarterback.

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Idzik wasn't responsible for the now-baffling decision to trade for Tebow, and it was way past time to cut the cord. It became readily apparent very early that the Jets never had any intention of allowing Tebow to play quarterback. He was nothing but a walking distraction—the sideshow within the sideshow that was the 2012 New York Jets.

Not that there's not still at least one ring left in the circus. The arrival of Smith in the Big Apple started the clock ticking on Mark Sanchez's departure from New York, and while Idzik was somewhat evasive according to Costello when discussing the fifth-year pro's future, the writing is on the wall.

That departure may come sooner as opposed to later. If we've seen one thing over the past few weeks, it's that John Idzik isn't shy about making high-profile moves that he feels are going to help the Jets get back into it in the AFC East.

As Idzik told Kimberly Jones of NFL.com after the draft, he wouldn't have things any other way.

They are obviously highly visible moves; they are big moves for our organization, I liken it to anything else in football. You're going to have certain things to react to, certain things to make decisions on, and those came about. We felt like we were prepared to do it and, looking back on it, I feel like, all of those things considered, I feel like we made the right moves for the New York Jets.

Only time will tell if they truly were the right moves, but at first glance so far, so good.

 

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