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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs' Josh Freeman could've been a Jet

This is one of those non-consequential stories that nonetheless is worhtwhile reading.

In previewing some of the content from Jets coach Rex Ryan's new book, Peter King of Sports Illustrated dropped a nugget that Ryan included that sheds light on the difficult choice the Jets faced in deciding whether to draft Mark Sanchez or Josh Freeman in 2009.

From the account Ryan tells, it was an incredibly tough call and came down to a difference that might otherwise have proven irrelevant. Here's the excerpt from King's story, which you can find here:

"Ryan tells an interesting story in the book about pursuing a franchise quarterback once he got the Jets job. The choice came down to USC's Mark Sanchez and Kansas State's Josh Freeman. 'We sent both of them a mini-playbook and asked them to learn what they could from it before they met with us,' Ryan told me. 'They both blew the doors off us when we got them in a room. We'd ask about out formations and bam-bam-bam, they knew it all quick. Both very, very sharp guys.'

"But in telling the story in the book, Ryan says one of the factors that swayed the Jets was how Sanchez was regarded by his peers. He said 24 high school and college mates showed up to catch balls for Sanchez. When they'd been to Kansas State to work out Freeman, two of his receivers showed up. "Honestly,'' Ryan told me, "that might have been what separated them -- the immense respect we sensed from the people who played with Mark and knew him so well.

"The Jets traded up from 17 to five in the first round to take Sanchez. Imagine if they hadn't; who'd have taken Sanchez? Oakland, at seven? San Francisco, at 10? Buffalo, at 11 (saving the Aaron Maybin embarrassment)? Washington, at 13?"

This whole story adds a little context into why the Bucs traded up a couple spots to draft Freeman when they some thought he might have fallen to them anyhow. If other teams had that kind of affinity for Freeman, it was reasonable to think he might not have been on the board when it came time for the Bucs to select. In retrospect -- given the way Freeman has played -- the Bucs would have been justified in making the sort of trade up the Jets did to draft Sanchez.

Either way, they got their man and don't have a bit of buyer's remorse.

[Last modified: Monday, May 9, 2011 5:21pm]

    

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