There was a lot of talk about the New York Jets potentially selecting a quarterback in the NFL draft, and the speculation reached a fever pitch as Johnny Manziel slid to No. 18. However, the Jets prudently chose to pass on Manziel, and then wisely waited until the sixth round to target a passer, selecting Clemson star Tajh Boyd. Boyd is an very interesting pick, as he was once projected as a potential first rounder.
Boyd’s resume speaks for itself. He was a three year starter for the Tigers, compiling a 32-8 record during those three seasons and winning the Orange Bowl as a senior. Boyd threw for 11,904 yards, 107 touchdowns and 39 interceptions in his career, adding 1,165 yards and 26 touchdowns on the ground (remember that in college, yardage lost on sacks is removed from rushing totals, so that yardage number is skewed). Boyd’s completion percentage also rose every year, ending with an excellent 68.5% mark as a senior.
So with all that working for him, why did Boyd fall all the way to the sixth round? For starters, he’s just 6’0″ tall, and despite the success of Drew Brees and Russell Wilson, the NFL still doesn’t like short quarterbacks. Second, Boyd has some mechanical flaws, including a bit of a sidearm delivery. That is hardly a death knell for quarterbacks (just look at Philip Rivers), but it doesn’t help in the draft process. Finally, there is so much familiarity and over-analysis with a three starter at quarterback that eventually many people focus only on the flaws.
With all that said, the truth is that Boyd probably went a little lower than he should have, but it’s not like the Jets got an incredible value with this pick. Some observers were quick to throw Boyd’s name into the ring with Geno Smith and Michael Vick to compete for the Jets’ starting job, but that is a ridiculous notion. Boyd will compete with Matt Simms for the No. 3 job, and he is not even guaranteed that.
Right now, Boyd is probably the favorite to make the team, because he does have a very good college pedigree and some solid potential. He actually landed in a great situation, as he will be able to learn from Smith and Vick, two other mobile quarterbacks who have made the transition from the spread option to a pro-style offense. Vick is obviously not a long term solution, so the Jets will work on cleaning up Boyd’s mechanics and developing him with an eye on making him a long term backup. Who knows if he will ever become more than that, but if he does then the Jets will be thrilled to have that contribution from a sixth round pick.
I expect Boyd will make the team at Simms’ expense, but he will certainly have to earn it. If Boyd actually gets on the field for the Jets this year, however, something went terribly wrong, because there is no way he is supplanting both Smith and Vick. Still, this was a nice pick for the Jets this late, and they will hope that one day Boyd can have the same impact in the NFL that he did in college.