Typically, when a team trades its first- and second-round draft picks, along with three players to move up and take a quarterback with the No. 5 overall selection, it's because they consider him a franchise-type talent.
In 2009, that's exactly what the Jets and coach Rex Ryan, then in his first year on the job, did to get USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. Ryan and Sanchez are distant memories in New York -- Ryan was fired after the 2014 season; Sanchez was released the offseason before -- and Ryan recently told ESPN.com's Rich Cimini that he never considered Sanchez a franchise quarterback.
"With Sanchez, I knew he wasn't going to be a franchise quarterback, but I thought he'd be good enough to win with," Ryan said. "The guys coming out in this year's class have a much higher rating than Mark had -- and Mark was OK."
Ryan, who is prone to hyperbole, especially when talking about his players, wasn't particularly effusive about Sanchez after he was drafted.
"We wouldn't have traded up for Mark if we didn't think he had the ability to compete for the starting position," Ryan told reporters in April 2009.
Even though Sanchez helped the Jets to back-to-back AFC title games in his first two seasons, by 2013 Ryan was trying to replace him.
"With Sanchez, we just couldn't have it anymore," Ryan said. "The boneheaded interceptions, especially in the red zone, it was mind boggling. Unfortunately, Mark never really got better. I think that was the disappointing thing to me."
The Jets tried and failed to trade for Tyrod Taylor, who was then Joe Flacco's backup in Baltimore. Instead, the team drafted Geno Smith in the second round. After Sanchez suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason, Smith was forced into the starting job as a rookie. The team won two more games than they had the year before and finished 8-8, but Smith was one of the league's worst quarterbacks. He completed just 55.9 percent of his throws and had 12 touchdowns, 21 interceptions and four lost fumbles. According to Football Outsiders' metrics, Smith ranked 45th in total value among all eligible quarterbacks, ahead of only Terrelle Pryor and Brandon Weeden.
Ryan believes that then-general manager John Idzik did not do enough to surround Smith with talented players.
"I don't think we helped Geno by any stretch of the imagination," Ryan said. "We never added anything that could help him. And he didn't help himself, either. It was that combination."
Smith, like Sanchez and Ryan, is no longer with the Jets, though he's still in New York as Eli Manning's backup. And while Ryan thinks quarterback Josh McCown "is good" for the Jets, he also concedes that the 38-year-old is "a placeholder."
"He knows he's not the long-range answer," Ryan said, adding: "None of those guys are, certainly not [Christian] Hackenberg."
Which means that the Jets, once again, will be targeting a quarterback high in the draft.
"My understanding is there will be five quarterbacks out there," Ryan said of the 2018 draft class. "And [the Jets] will get one of them."
Turns out, that vaunted 2018 quarterback class may not be as good as originally thought.on a group that has been underwhelming for much of the college season.