Aggressive Draft Philosophy Helped Build Jets
"The last thing I wanted to do was trade up twice," Tannenbaum, who'd already moved up to take quarterback Mark Sanchez at No. 5 the day before, told FanHouse on Thursday. "But our guys were persistent, and we had a first-round grade on Shonn. So ultimately, to trade a third, fourth and seventh-rounder for a guy we had a first-round grade on, it became a no-brainer."
It also became the fifth trade-up deal the Jets have made in the past three drafts, establishing them as an aggressive drafting team that considers it more important to get the player they want than to stockpile late-round picks for depth.
"Every situation was different," Tannenbaum said. "But basically, if we believe in our process and there's somebody we really want, we're going to do what we can."
The first example happened in 2007, when the Jets wanted a cornerback and had two of them -- Darrelle Revis and Leon Hall -- rated very highly on their draft board. They liked them both, but they preferred Revis, thanks to what they'd seen with their own eyes in pre-draft workouts. They were set to pick 25th, and the Bengals, who also wanted a cornerback, were picking 18th.
The Giants (at 20) and the Patriots (at 24) were also making noise about those defensive backs, and the Jets decided they'd miss out on both if they waited until 25. So they traded their first, second and fifth-round picks to Carolina in exchange for the No. 14 overall pick (and Carolina's sixth-rounder) and moved up to take Revis, who has become one of the stars of this NFL season. The Bengals took Hall at No. 18, and the Giants took another corner, Aaron Ross, at 20.
"That's a lot of respect," Revis said Friday. "I appreciate that the Jets would bump up (11) spots to get me, and I'm here, and I didn't steer them wrong. That's just good player personnel. They know what kind of guys they want and they need. They've done it in free agency, too, with guys like Damien Woody, Calvin Pace and Thomas Jones. They do a great job of scouting and getting the guys they know they want."
Later in that same draft, the Jets traded second, third and sixth-round picks to Green Bay for the No. 47 overall pick, with which they took linebacker David Harris. (They also got the Packers' seventh-round pick in that deal.) And in 2008, they traded a second and a fourth-rounder to the Packers for the No. 30 overall pick, which became tight end Dustin Keller.
Tannenbaum said part of the key to the draft philosophy is the work they do in free agency. Specifically, he cited players such as Brandon Moore and Mike DeVito as examples of undrafted free agents who have helped the Jets maintain their depth even as they deal away draft picks. And, he said, it's important to him that these draft-day deals don't include future-year picks. The Jets are down a couple of picks in this year's draft, but only because of the trades that brought in veterans Lito Sheppard and Braylon Edwards.
"As best we can, we try to pay our bills within each year's draft," Tannenbaum said. "That's very important to us, to try to stay within each year."
That helps keep it uncomplicated, and allows the Jets to evaluate each draft as its own entity. The '07 draft becomes the one where they got Revis and Harris. The 09 draft is the one where they got Sanchez and Greene. As they knock on the door of Super Bowl XLIV, it doesn't much matter to them that they only had one other draft pick in 2009 or two others in 2007. When it comes to the draft, the Jets employ a quality-over-quantity philosophy. And here on the eve of their AFC Championship Game matchup with the Colts, it's one with which they're pretty happy.