Sam Darnold, by far the best QB in this draft – no disrespect to Josh Rosen – fell into the Jets laps at #3? I had that in March and April mock drafts, but when it came to 24 hours before the draft, I didn’t truly believe the Browns would be that stupid to pass on the Trojans star. Inexplicably, they went with Baker Mayfield. Then the Giants, with a 37-year old, possibly-washed QB, also gave Darnold the stiff arm.
I’ll let my thoughts flow freely:
Let’s give credit to the Jets front office for trading up to the 3rd pick. The stat guys hated it. Read this. (I loved it. Absolute worst case they’d get Saquon Barkley, the best player in the draft; likely, they’d settle for Josh Rosen. Best case? Sam Darnold.) Did the Jets know that the Browns loved Baker Mayfield and the Giants lusted after Saquon Barkley? No matter what is said, we’ll never know. But the trade itself was genius. For sure, it means the front office gets at least two more years.
The QB situation is murky for this season, but it doesn’t matter. Josh McCown is a 39-year old (in July) veteran who will show the 20-year old Darnold how to be a professional. First in, last out, all that. Maybe Teddy Bridgewater wins the starting job, it doesn’t really matter. Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg, thanks for your service. Petty just wasn’t any good; Hackenberg never got a chance. He never got into a regular season game. Perhaps he’ll go to Houston, re-unite with Bill O'Brien, and be the emergency backup for Deshaun Watson.
There’s no point in rushing Darnold to the field. Not behind that offensive line just yet. Yes, the rookie contract clock is ticking, but I don’t want to hear Carson Wentz comparisons; the Eagles were 10-6, 10-6 and then 7-9 before drafting Wentz. The roster was loaded, the OL was very good.
Which brings us to the most important part of the next 12 months for the Jets: They absolutely must a) find out what they have in this year’s offensive line (all five projected starters from this depth chart are under 30), b) figure out where to spend the money next year in free agency, and make the necessary moves. With the 5-year rookie contract for 1st round picks, the Jets window to build around the cheap franchise QB and contend for a Super Bowl – yes, really – will be 2019-2021.
The Jets running back-by-committee will be like a tryout for 2019, basically: Thomas Rawls will get a shot, Isaiah Crowell will be in the mix, and Bilal Powell will be the incumbent. Elijah McGuire had one memorable carry vs Jacksonville, but in his other 87 rushes, it was mostly sputtering. I’d like to see them draft Tennessee’s John Kelly.
Tight end is a need in the draft, perhaps the next highest priority after the OL. Jordan Leggett and Clive Walford are the starter options. That’s not good.
Receiver is going to be a helluva situation. The most talented one they’ve got – Robby Anderson – was arrested twice in the last calendar year. The 2nd best – Quincy Enunwa – is coming off a major neck injury and may not be ready for camp. Fortunately, there’s Jermaine Kearse, a total pro who has been to two Super Bowls and could be an offensive leader. After that … TBD? There’s Lucky Whitehead, formerly of Dallas, and Terrelle Pryor, formerly of Cleveland/Washington. There’s a ton to love about Devin Smith but he’s on the Kevin White track in Chicago – always hurt. Smith has 10 catches in four seasons and twice has torn his right ACL. They waived him last May and put him on IR. ArDarius Stewart is highly thought-of, as is Jalin Marshall (Ohio State). Those two, plus Charone Peake, Andre Roberts, and Chad Hansen will all be jockeying for roster sports.
The Jets year ahead is simple: Assess what you have, and go into next summer with the most cap space. Strap in for – potentially, building a Super Bowl contender.