The Chiefs have two of the best players in the NFL in Travis Kelce and Tyrann Mathieu. Kelce is arguably the most dynamic tight end in all of football, while Mathieu has developed into an All-Pro safety.
In an alternative universe, those two are playing for the Jets right now.
Rex Ryan was high on Kelce and Mathieu entering the 2013 NFL draft — so high that he pleaded with then-general manager John Idzik to pick them, according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini. Idzik opted not to listen to Ryan, instead forming a draft class that made little to no positive impact on the organization.
Idzik selected Dee Milliner and Sheldon Richardson with his two first-round picks. Milliner battled injuries and never came close to being the lockdown cornerback he was supposed to become. Richardson produced with the Jets, but was plagued by off-the-field troubles. Picking Geno Smith in the second round amounted to next to nothing and Idzik’s late-round pick didn’t last long in the league.
Only Brian Winters — selected in the third round with the 72nd overall pick — developed into a piece the Jets kept around beyond his rookie contract.
Kelce was selected in the second round by the Chiefs, while the Cardinals drafted Mathieu in the third round. Both were available when the Jets picked in the second round. Hindsight is always 20/20 — especially when it comes to drafting — but Idzik dropped the ball in a big way.
New York is still trying to rebound from its poor drafting under Idzik. Mike Maccagnan wasn’t any better than his predecessor and early indications are that Joe Douglas has a clue, but his 2020 class hasn’t panned out too well. At the very least, Douglas utilizes a collaborative process when it comes to drafting. If Robert Saleh has input on a player, Douglas will listen and consider his head coach’s advice.
Idzik didn’t afford Ryan that luxury and it cost the Jets two All-Pros.