The NFL draft has once again come and gone from Radio City Music Hall, with each NFL team looking to shore up its roster for the upcoming season with a fresh crop of rookies.
For New York’s hometown teams, the Giants and the Jets, the 2013 draft represents an opportunity for both to return to competitive play after they missed the playoffs in 2012. The Giants, one year removed from their Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots, managed a 9-7 regular season record but fell to second in the NFC East behind the resurgent Washington Redskins. The Jets fell further into their recent downward spiral, finishing with a 6-10 record after a turbulent regular season. The team tied for last in the AFC East and became a mere afterthought to their archrivals, perennial divisional champions the Patriots.
Despite their shared fates at the end of last season, however, New York’s football prospects could not be more different.
The Giants will be looking to rebound from a mediocre 2012 campaign and make another run at the NFL postseason. Despite the loss of key players on both sides of the field, including defensive end Osi Umenyiora and running back Ahmad Bradshaw, the Giants will likely maintain much of the core from last season, including quarterback Eli Manning and defensive linemen Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul. In a year widely regarded as a less talent-rich draft class than years previous, the Giants drafted defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins from Ohio State and defensive end Damontre Moore from Texas A&M to help improve on their 25th-best rushing defense. It appears the Giants are making only minor adjustments heading into 2013, fine-tuning their roster to make yet another playoff appearance and regain some lost consistency.
The Jets have attempted to make wholesale changes after two consecutive playoff misses and a disastrous 2012 campaign marred by controversy surrounding the quarterback position. After multiple subpar games last season for starting quarterback Mark Sanchez, fans and media began to speculate aloud whether it was time for head coach Rex Ryan to insert former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow into the starting lineup, especially after rumors abounded of Tebow’s unhappiness with his lack of playing time and of a divided Jets locker room.
The Jets only ignited further speculation when they drafted quarterback Geno Smith out of West Virginia, easily their highest-profile draftee of 2013. The Jets will be left to decide what to do about the much-maligned Sanchez and the media sensation Tebow, both of whom — along with third-stringer Greg McElroy — alternated duties under center during the season. If the Jets are to contend for the AFC East championship, they will first need to put their full weight behind a single quarterback, be it Sanchez, Tebow, Smith or McElroy. In today’s NFL, where passing reigns supreme, the Jets will only continue to flounder at the hands of New England if they cannot right their ship.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 29 print edition. Charles Surette is a contributing writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.