The Jets are still waiting for Ryan Fitzpatrick to blink first in their contract staring contest. They've run out of available free agency leverage to exploit but they can still flex their draft leverage. According to NFL Media's Albret Breer the Jets have a visit set with Paxton Lynch and ESPN's Rich Cimini reports the Jets have pre-draft visits set with Christian Hackenberg.
Of course these meetings aren't only a leverage ploy to be used against Fitzpatrick. The Jets still have to have a backup plan in place incase Fitzpatrick doesn't return but even if he did the Jets could certainly still draft a quarterback. If the Jets believe any of these quarterbacks that would be available when they pick could be a future starting quarterback then they should draft them whether Fitzpatrick returns or not.
Both Carson Wentz and Jared Goff, the consensus top two quarterbacks in this draft, will be long gone by the time the Jets pick at 20 and it's possible the Jets could try and trade up high enough to get one of them, but highly unlikely. Mike Maccagnan values his draft picks too much, and already has so few with only six picks this year, for him to be willing to pay the draft tax to do so. Unless of course they could figure out a package that would include trading Muhammad Wilkerson plus picks to make that happen. Assuming a trade like that doesn't happen the Jets could potentially draft Lynch, Hackenberg, Connor Cook, Cardell Jones, Vernon Adams among others.
Lynch is looked at by most as a first-round quarterback, more realistically he probably grades out around a second-round grade for most but with the lack of supply at quarterback in the NFL the demand knocks that grade up to a first because he isn't likely to be available in the second. Lynch isn't nearly as polished and ready to start as Goff and Wentz are so if the Jets do like his potential and decide to draft him everyone would be better served if Fitzpatrick came back this year and they could groom Lynch.
Hackenberg was once thought of as a lock first-round pick with most people assuming he would be a top five or 10 pick. He's a classic 'look the part all-star,' he's tall and has a strong arm, he just looks like quarterback but he was never able to develop into anything more than that. He had everyone excited during his freshman season, when he was coached by Bill O'Brien but remember he also has Allen Robinson to throw to, but even that was mostly people being hypnotized by his potential because of his size and arm strength.
Hackenberg has reportedly blamed James Franklin, the coach brought in to replace O'Brien, for the his struggles in the past two seasons which isn't hard to believe because he never hid his displeasure with Franklin even while he was there. But change of coach and system or not, Hackenberg can't blame the coach for his failure to develop any type of touch. He had to deal with plenty of offensive line issues that made his job much tougher but instead of trying to adjust you could see him repeatedly fight unwinnable fights. Because of his struggles, and NFL teams won't like hearing him take no accountability and blaming Franklin, Hackenberg will likely be drafted in third or fourth-round but all it takes is one team to fall in love with his potential and draft him much earlier.
Still with all of his problems some coach is going to see potential in him, and Lynch as well as the other guys mentioned, and want to draft them so they can be molded in that coach's image. If Chan Gailey thinks Lynch or Hackenberg can be that guy then the Jets better get to know them know because they will likely be drafting one of them in about a month.
Chris Nimbley is the Editor-in-Chief of JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@cnimbley), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)