After their cross-lockerroom rivals picked up Saquon Barkley, the New York Jets followed by picking USC quarterback Sam Darnold with the No. 3 selection of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on Thursday night.
This wasn’t the Jets’ reported first choice. In the weeks leading up to the draft, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield looked to be Gang Green’s favorite at No. 3.
Just days before the selection process began though, the Cleveland Browns swooped in and stole the Oklahoma passer from New York’s clutches.
Darnold is quite a nice consolation prize, though.
Entering the 2017 season, Jets fans were imploring the organization to tank in order to get the USC passer and in many other years, Darnold would have been the top prospect entering this year’s draft.
But the sudden skyrocketing of Mayfield’s status allowed Darnold to “drop” into the Jets’ laps.
At 6-foot-3, 221 pounds, Darnold has the size needed and certainly looks the part while in the pocket. He won’t shy away from making the difficult throw as he trusts his arm in tight situations. However, it has caused him to deal with some turnover issues as he threw 13 interceptions last season.
It’s just a small blip compared to what Darnold could bring to the Jets though as he’s shown an ability to read opposing defenses like a professional already. His vision in the pocket is above average and he’s able to go through multiple progressions without a hitch.
But he won’t have to immediately step in and start like Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez had to do in the past. Instead, the Jets made the smart move of bringing veteran passer Josh McCown back on a one-year deal where he is expected to start in front of former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who was also signed by the Jets only through the 2018 season.
While Bridgewater is just 25 years old, there are plenty of question marks surrounding his future in the league after a horrendous knee injury two years ago.
If Bridgewater is unable to go, Darnold becomes McCown’s immediate backup. If both quarterbacks thrive, then the Jets have a young passer they can mold into a legitimate star over the next few years.