The NFL tends to have plenty of ‘what could have been’ moments in its history.
I mean, how many franchises and ex-GMs are kicking themselves for passing on all-time great quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Johnny Unitas and Bart Starr among others?
Besides taking a person’s word for it, it’s hard to say what a GM or coach might have done at that moment in time. It’s also hard to say if things would have worked out the same, had a prospect been drafted by a different team and developed under a different staff.
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The New York Jets Have Selected…
The Jets franchise has been notoriously poor at drafting over the past decade or so and Ryan wasn’t exactly known to be a can’t-miss scout either — although he did lead the franchise to its most recent postseason appearances that both ended with an AFC championship loss.
Within a Jets and Giants deep dive of “dysfunction” from ESPN reporters Rich Cimini and Jordan Raanan, there was an interesting testimonial from the ex-HC turned analyst.
The article read: “Some felt that Idzik ran a closed-door operation, minimizing input from scouts and coaches. Ryan told ESPN that in 2013, he pleaded with [John] Idzik to draft defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, who slipped to the third round. Didn’t happen. Ryan said he also lobbied for tight end Travis Kelce. Didn’t happen.”
The Honey Badger and Kelce? If Ryan is telling the truth, the ex-GM Idzik owes the former coach and the entire Jets fanbase a gift basket or something — I mean, good God man!
Instead, Idzik drafted:
- Dee Milliner, cornerback, Alabama; No. 9 overall
- Sheldon Richardson, defensive lineman, Missouri; No. 13 overall
- Geno Smith, quarterback, West Virginia; No. 39 overall
- Brian Winters, offensive lineman, Kent State; No. 72 overall
- Oday Aboushi, offensive lineman, Virginia; No. 141 overall
- William Campbell, defensive lineman, Michigan; No. 178 overall
- Tommy Bohanon, fullback, Wake Forest; No. 215 overall
Richardson, Smith and Aboushi are currently on an active roster and Winters was last seen with the Arizona Cardinals in September. Having said that, the second first-rounder, Richardson, is the only consistent performer from this draft class and even he pales in comparison to the two Chiefs.
Mathieu was selected by the Cardinals at pick number 69. He is a three-time first-team All-Pro, three-time Pro Bowler, member of the HOF All-2010s team and a Super Bowl champion.
Kelce was drafted by Kansas City at pick number 63. He is also a three-time first-team All-Pro, seven-time Pro Bowler, member of the HOF All-2010s team, Super Bowl champion and guaranteed future Hall of Fame tight end.
Both are also known to be tremendous leaders and teammates. Who knows where the Jets and Ryan might be if they had selected either of these two future NFL superstars.
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Relationship Between GM & HC Is Key
More than anything, this story is another example of why great football teams start with the relationship between the general manager and head coach — and owner in certain situations.
Everyone has to be on the same page and that doesn’t seem to be a problem for Andy Reid and Brett Veach. The pair have hit on plenty of immediate starters during the past few drafts.
This season, offensive linemen like Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith have been tremendous and so has linebacker Nick Bolton. Veach and Reid have also drafted Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Willie Gay Jr., L’Jarius Sneed, Juan Thornhill, Rashad Fenton and Mecole Hardman over the past three years.
It can be easy to take this for granted, but having an intelligent partnership leading an NFL organization is vital to accomplishing sustained success in this league. Outside of (maybe) a franchise quarterback, nothing is more important.
For the Jets, hopefully, GM Joe Douglas and HC Robert Saleh make a better match than Ryan and Idzik did. If they don’t figure things out soon, they could be rehashing ‘what could have been’ in another eight years.