I suppose it's that time. Only 11 days to the draft, so let's mock.
1. Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC. The latest buzz suggests the Browns will take Josh Allen, but I'm not buying in just yet. I have a hard time believing general manager John Dorsey will gamble on a quarterback who had accuracy issues against mediocre competition.
2. Bills (from the Giants, through the Broncos): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. Desperate for a quarterback, the Bills pull off a double jump, going from No. 12 to No. 2, using the Broncos (No. 5) as the middle men. The Bills have enough draft capital to do it. This is what you do when your current depth chart consists of AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman.
3. Jets (from the Colts): Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. The Jets prefer Mayfield over the big-armed Allen because of his winning pedigree and rare accuracy. Mayfield (6-foot ⅝ inches) would be the shortest quarterback drafted by the Jets since Jeff Blake (6-foot ¼) in 1992.
4. Browns (from the Texans): Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State: Dorsey will feel like Sonny Weaver, sans the frantic trading (and Jennifer Garner), as he walks away with two blue-chip players.
5. Giants (from the Bills, through the Broncos): Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State. GM Dave Gettleman should take a quarterback, but he finds the combination of Chubb and extra draft picks from the Bills too tempting to pass up.
6. Colts (from the Jets): Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. The Colts need help just about everywhere. Landing a potential "Gold Jacket" player is the way to go.
7. Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama: A marriage of need and value.
8. Cardinals (from the Bears): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. The Cards will stop Allen's fall, trading up from No. 15 to land their quarterback of the future.
10. Raiders: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. Jon Gruden is smart enough to know his defense needs help.
There you have it, our mini-mock 1.0. We'll give this another crack next Sunday. This is an exciting time for New York football, the first time since 1981 that both teams are picking in the top three. That year, the Giants chose Lawrence Taylor at No. 2; the Jets opted for Freeman McNeil at No. 3.
2. Welcome back: On Monday, the Jets open their offseason program, which is voluntary (wink, wink). A quick refresher: The program is divided into three phases. Phase I (two weeks) is limited to strength and conditioning. Phase II (three weeks) allows on-field drills but no offense versus defense. Phase III (four weeks) consists of 10 practices, sans live contact. It culminates with a mandatory minicamp.
The big story will be recently signed quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who is attempting to rebound from a devastating knee injury that cost him almost two full seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. The Jets will bring him along slowly; there's no need to rush anything at this point. Speaking to reporters in late March, Bridgewater wouldn't say if he expected to be ready to practice by the week of May 21.
"We want him to be healthy and I expect him to throw this spring," coach Todd Bowles said at the recent NFL meetings.
There's a difference between throwing and participating fully in practice, so we'll have to wait and see. Bridgewater has some money riding on the offseason -- a $500,000 workout bonus. Wide receiver Charles Johnson and linebacker Brandon Copeland, both of whom are coming off major injuries, have $250,000 and $100,000 bonuses, respectively.
3. The Maccagnan 16: General manager Mike Maccagnan promised to be active in free agency and he wasn't kidding. We're 33 days into free agency and the Jets have signed 16 new players -- 16! That, folks, is a rather astounding clip.
It's classic Maccagnan: Patch as many holes as possible before the draft, reducing the temptation to reach for players at need positions. The one exception is at defensive end, where he has yet to find a suitable replacement for Muhammad Wilkerson.
The major takeaway from the shopping spree is that only two additions (cornerback Trumaine Johnson and linebacker Avery Williamson) are locks to be on the team in 2019, based on their contract value and structure. Eleven of the 16 players signed one-year deals, and another three (running back Isaiah Crowell, center Spencer Long and linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis) signed multiyear contracts that are really one-year deals with options.
The upside to this approach is that it allows them to maintain financial flexibility in future years. Maccagnan doesn't want to be beholden to free agency, and that's a smart way to build the team as long as he drafts well. The downside is that it creates a mercenary feel, with so many players in one-and-done situations. Chances are, they'll have to do it again next year.
Looking at the "bargain" signings, the players to watch are linebacker Kevin Minter and center Travis Swanson, both of whom were starters on their previous teams. If I'm Darron Lee, I'd be worried about Minter, who played under Bowles in Arizona (2013-2014) and knows the system. Swanson's addition creates a three-way competition between Long (a former left guard) and left guard James Carpenter, whose play slipped last season.
4. Cap update: Remember when the Jets were rolling in cap space? They opened free agency with $90 million at their disposal, but they're down to $19.5 million, according to NFLPA records. The draft will eat up about $8.5 million, which leaves them enough flexibility to address roster needs into the season.
5. Dean of NY coaches: Bowles has been on the job for only three years, but that's enough to make him the longest-tenured coach/manager of the major professional sports teams in New York/New Jersey.
Is that crazy or what?
Bowles assumed the mantle, if you can call it that, when the New York Rangers fired Alain Vigneault last weekend. New York is a volatile place for sports teams, with owners exhibiting less patience than ever before. The Jets are the outlier. Once known for their dysfunction, they've created a stable environment. Now all they have to do is, you know, win.
"The whole idea is to get winning results every year without giving them the same message," said Bowles, explaining his approach to the players. "That's the challenge every year."
6. Still fighting: Remember Devon Still? Sure you do. He spent some time with the Jets last summer and he's the father of Leah, who heroically battled a rare form of cancer in the national spotlight. Still and his wife, Asha, will participate in the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation annual 5K on Sunday at Yankee Stadium. All proceeds go directly to support innovative cancer research. Still retired from the NFL last December, but he's still a voice in the cancer community. Bravo.
7. The last word: Former Jets quarterback Ken O'Brien lives in Manhattan Beach, California, Rosen's hometown: "I watched him in high school. He can spin it. He's one of the more natural guys throwing the ball. When the ball comes out of his hand, it jumps out of his hand. You hear the things out here recently, saying you have to put a lot on his plate to keep him busy. To me, that makes him sound like a really bright kid who can make decisions. Some of the things I've seen about him make it seem like he's not a team guy, but I haven't heard that out here."