The expectation was that Sam Darnold, a top tier college quarterback who just led his USC Trojans to a comeback victory in the Rose Bowl would enter the draft next year. As a Jets fan I was excited for his entrance in the draft because he could be our savior, and if not be the savior of another franchise. I have been telling people for months that the Jets were going to go 0-16 then draft Darnold first overall and be a playoff contender within 3 years. However, recent reports say that Darnold may stay in college for two more years. What does this mean for teams struggling to find their franchise quarterback? What is the Sam Darnold Effect?
I will discuss the Jets in this example but any team in need of a quarterback will have the same scenario.
The Jets are a team who looks like their starter will be the brother of the quarterback in the Verizon commercials. The last person on the Jets who resembled a potential franchise quarterback for any point of their NFL career was Mark Sanchez who rode an elite defense to 2 AFC Championship games. It is sad to say that the last potential quarterback of the future for the Jets was “The Sanchize” also known as a man with the same number of career touchdowns as interceptions. So when I heard the next big quarterback was coming from Sanchez’s Alma Matter who beat the same team as Sanchez in the Rose Bowl. I was a little worried at first. However, after watching the tape I think that Darnold is the real deal. Darnold is easily the best improviser in this year’s potential draft class and has the best short and medium passer of the bunch. Josh Rosen throws the best deep ball, but more on that later. Here are the options that the Jets have.
Name: The Los Angeles Project
Requirements: Sam Darnold enters the draft and is available during the Jets pick
The Los Angeles Project is the ideal scenario for the Jets. They are able to still draft their man and quarterback of the future. Simple.
Name: The Decision
Requirements: Sam Darnold enters the draft but is not on the board at the Jets pick OR Sam Darnold doesn’t enter the draft
The Decision revolves around two other names, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen. Allen is a hard-nosed quarterback from the University of Wyoming and Rosen is an outspoken deep ball artist from UCLA. Both of these names are being talked about with Darnold in terms of best three QBs in next year’s draft. In my opinion Allen has Cam Newton potential but I don’t see very much in Rosen who seems to take longer to go through his reads which will get him killed in the NFL. The Jets would be forced into the dilemma of choosing one of these other two heralded quarterbacks or entering option C should Sam Darnold not be available at their pick. If it was up to me, I would draft Josh Allen if he was available because he is a big strong armed quarterback, who is mobile enough to improvise, and only knock is slightly weaker competition. However, if Allen isn’t available I wouldn’t take Rosen and I would move to Option C.
Name: Trust the Process
Requirements: Either no outcomes from Option B, or Sam Darnold doesn’t enter the draft
Trust the Process, three words that will not fly in the New York market. The New York market demands winning and it demands it now, despite the fact that building from the ground up is the best way to build a sustainable and competitive team, i.e. Chicago Cubs, Golden State Warriors. So by entering Trust the Process the Jets put the jobs of everybody in the organization, including Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles at risk. However if no franchise quarterbacks are available this must be the solution that the Jets opt for. The Cowboys, without knowing it were able to use this formula to produce the team that went 13-3 last season. Trust the Process means that the Jets build up their offensive line and receiving corps to produce the ideal spot for a rookie quarterback to succeed. Dak Prescott was able to come into a system with the best offensive line in the league, and the ability to throw to Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, and Jason Witten. It didn’t hurt that the Cowboys were also able to draft an elite running back in Ezekiel Elliott which took some pressure off of Dak to produce for the offense. This s similar to the scenario that Mark Sanchez had in his second year when he went 12-4. The Jets had one of the best defenses in the league and Sanchez was able to throw to Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Dustin Keller. Over the next few years, the Jets player personnel staff proceeded to drain him of an offensive line and weapons and his performance reflected that. Part of the reason that I think Geno Smith didn’t work out is because he never had time in the pocket to go through his reads because the offensive line couldn’t hold off a pass rush. Hopefully the Jets will learn from their past mistakes and not mindlessly draft a quarterback without producing a good situation. Instead maybe they will do their due diligence and build from the bottom up despite any complaints from fans.
We will have to wait and see what teams do based off of Darnold’s decision next spring but for now these seem to be the three options that teams have.