History has a message for the New York Jets: Don't do it, don't take the quarterback plunge with the 20th overall pick.
If they ignore the warning, there's a good chance they'll end up marching in a parade of fools.
The NFL is filled with cautionary tales of quarterback-needy teams blowing first-round picks because of need and greed at the position. They reach for over-rated prospects, succumbing to temptation and pressure. The seemingly endless quest for a franchise quarterback, something the Jets know about, can trick the savviest of talent evaluators into making bad decisions.
If a quarterback is the real deal, he'll be picked in the top 10, probably the top five. If a prospect slips, there's usually a pretty good reason, but teams are willing to overlook deficiencies because they're blinded by desperation.
From 2000 to 2015, a total of 16 quarterbacks were drafted in the No. 12 to 32 range, only two of whom can be considered true franchise quarterbacks -- Aaron Rodgers and Joe Flacco. Teddy Bridgewater shows upside, but he's not there yet. The rest of the group reads like a "Who's Who?" of busts: Johnny Manziel. EJ Manuel. Brandon Weeden. Christian Ponder. Tim Tebow. Josh Freeman. Brady Quinn. Jason Campbell. J.P. Losman. Kyle Boller. Rex Grossman. Patrick Ramsey. The last guy is Chad Pennington, whose promising career was derailed by injuries.
What were those teams thinking?
In 2005, the Green Bay Packers got lucky when Rodgers, projected as the possible No. 1 overall pick, fell to them at 24. The ghost of Lombardi was looking out for them because something like that happens only once a generation.
"To be in a situation like Green Bay years ago when they took Aaron when Brett Favre was their starter, that's obviously the ideal situation," Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said at the scouting combine. "But how many times are you sitting in the 20s when you can take a guy that you see as the future?"
The Jets could be confronted with this decision on draft day. The top prospects, Carson Wentz and Jared Goff, probably will be picked in the top 10. Wentz may have solidified himself as one of the best players in the draft with a strong combine performance. Goff was solid, remaining in the conversation. The wild card is Paxton Lynch, who received mixed reviews and could be available for the Jets.
Lynch has an intriguing skill set, with all kinds of size (6-foot-6 1/2) and athletic ability, but he was inconsistent with his accuracy at the combine, according to ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay. He also believes Lynch "plays with loud feet, and is still working through his drops. Lynch is an intriguing prospect, but he's not nearly as polished as Goff or Wentz."
That said, Lynch could rise up boards if he crushes his pro day. If not, he could be there for the Jets. Would they pick him? Based on what I'm hearing, I'd be surprised if they take a quarterback at 20, and that's probably the right call. Unless they have a strong conviction on Lynch, it's a better risk-reward decision to pass, using the pick to address a current need.
The Jets would like to re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick, but they're still looking for a long-term solution. Maybe it's Bryce Petty, drafted last year in the fourth round. He's a project that may or may not pan out. Like many general managers, Mike Maccagnan covets the Next Big Thing. Presumably, he's smart enough to walk away from a sucker proposition.
What about trading up? That's no bargain either. Since 2000, there have been 14 instances of a team trading up to draft a quarterback in Round 1 -- and only five of them had a winning record with their draft team. There's nothing worse than overdrafting a quarterback and paying extra to do it.
We'll see how this plays out over the next two months. Right now, the Jets would be wise to look at other positions. It hurts not to have a franchise quarterback, but it hurts more to think you have one and be wrong.