The 2018 NFL Draft has come and gone, and as predicted, the New York Jets snagged their future quarterback with the number third overall pick. I previously wrote a Jets column for the April 5 issue of The Oracle, where I gave my endorsement for gang green to pick UCLA QB Josh Rosen. Well the Jets passed on Rosen for good reason. Instead, they took USC QB Sam Darnold after he fell to number three.
Throughout the pre-draft process, experts had Darnold being the number one overall pick with the Cleveland Browns. But less than 24 hours before the start of the draft, there were reports coming out of Cleveland that they had their sights set on another quarterback. That quarterback turned out to be 2017 Heisman trophy winner Baker Mayfield. This drastically changed the Jets’ plans.
There had been reports that the only quarterback that the New York Giants would take with the second overall pick was Darnold. Other than that, big blue had their sights set on Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, which is who the Giants ended up taking at number two.
The stage was set for the Jets to take Darnold, and that’s exactly what they did. According to the New York Post’s Brian Costello, Jet’s general manager Mike Maccagnan turned to his left and looked at Brian Heimerdinger, the team’s vice president of player personnel, and said, “Oh, my God. He just fell to us,” in reference to the 20-year-old Darnold.
The Jets didn’t have another pick until the third round, after they traded away their second round picks on March 17 to the Indianapolis Colts to move up from the number six pick to the number three. In the third round, they took Fort Hays State defensive linemen Nathan Shepard. They also took Miami tight end Chris Herndon in the fourth round.
I can sit here and break down each Jets draft pick pretending that I know all about them (the Jets also had three more picks in the sixth round), but the only thing that matters to me is that the Jets have their future quarterback in Sam Darnold. I give Mike Maccagnan and company an ‘A’ in this year’s draft. But the work is not done yet. They have the quarterback, but now it’s time to build around him.
The Jets should focus their next couple of draft/free agency periods on building up their offensive line and skill positions in order to put Darnold in the best position to succeed. The Jets have started doing this by signing center Spencer Long and wide receiver Terrelle Pryor in this past year’s free agency.
The Jets are also in a favorable position, where they don’t have to start Darnold week one. They have an experienced veteran in Josh McCown who will be a good influence on Darnold in the quarterback room. Darnold is young even for an NFL rookie, as he will turn 21-years-old in June. One knock on Darnold during his college career was the amount of turnovers he had, as he threw 13 interceptions this past season for USC. Not starting right away will allow Darnold to work on his mechanics.
For a franchise that hasn’t had the best of luck, the stars seemed to have aligned right for the New York Jets on draft night. Gang green got their quarterback, and now they must build around him in order to finally win a championship for the first time in about 50 years.
This is the final sports article that I’m writing for The Oracle. I just want to say what great pleasure I’ve had writing articles in the section that I originally called home.