The Jets, in trading up to draft Southern Cal's Mark Sanchez, picked the guy who could be their quarterback for a long, long time.
But he might not be their quarterback next season -- and that bodes well for the Patriots' short-term Super Bowl hopes.
Rex Ryan and the Jets bulked up on defense this offseason, bringing on board linebacker Bart Scott and veteran defensive back Lito Sheppard to improve the NFL's 16th-ranked defense.
The blockbuster trade -- the Jets dealt three players and their first two selections in this weekend's draft to land Sanchez -- is designed to improve the NFL's 16th-ranked offense. But Sanchez isn't quite in the league of Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco when it comes to his college experience; he started three games as a sophomore and 13 games as a junior. (Ryan and Flacco both were fifth-year seniors and both had at least two full seasons as starters under their respective belts.)
Sanchez played great as a junior; he threw for 3,207 yards and 34 touchdowns, including 413 yards and four touchdowns against Penn State in the Rose Bowl. One season as a starter, though, isn't necessarily enough training to make him the no-doubt starter for the Jets next season. One season as a starter certainly isn't enough training to make him a can't-miss rookie in a division like the AFC East.
Don't forget: The last time the Jets drafted a quarterback in the first round, it was 2000 and they were coming off an 8-8 season in 1999. That quarterback was Chad Pennington -- and Pennington sat behind Vinnie Testaverde for two seasons before getting his chance. The Jets, meanwhile, went 9-7 in 2000 -- an improvement of one win.
And every time since 2001 that a team coming off a record of 8-8 or better has picked a quarterback in the first round, they've taken a step back the next season:
* Washington in 2002 (Patrick Ramsey): From 8-8 to 7-9
* Green Bay in 2005 (Aaron Rodgers): From 10-6 to 4-12
* Denver in 2006 (Jay Cutler): From 13-3 to 9-7
There's no reason to believe Sanchez can't be a high-quality quarterback in the NFL for a long, long time. But there's no guarantee he's going to be a signficant upgrade over Kellen Clemens as a rookie. Heck, there's no guarantee he's even going to start as a rookie -- but the Jets swapped their first two draft picks and a trio of potential contributors for him. Above all, there's nothing close to a guarantee that he'll make the Jets better next season.
In the short term, at least, that's good news for the Patriots.