The 2018 NFL Draft has come and gone, and it seems as though the New York Jets have landed their guy. So, let’s look at the top five reasons why drafting Sam Darnold was a great decision.
Darnold was thought to be the clear-cut, No. 1 pick. However, the Cleveland Browns shifted the draft landscape when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called Baker Mayfield‘s name with the number one selection.
The Browns going Mayfield, and the New York Giants picking Saquon Barkley, was the best scenario for the Jets. Darnold is the best quarterback for them, and he will also probably end up being the best signal-caller in this year’s draft class.
Next: 5. Out of pocket ability
5. Out of pocket ability
According to the Washington Post, Darnold threw the eighth-most passes out of the pocket in 2017. This means he has a great ability to extend plays and throw on the run.
Not only does Darnold’s out of pocket play mean he can make the offensive line look good, he can also do some damage on play action. He finished with a 91.5 QB passer-rating while out of the pocket, landing him No. 32 in the nation on such plays on the run.
As said above, this helps the offensive line. But, it also means the Jets need to be more disciplined. This is great because it makes guys more accountable and focused.
Why? Not only do they have to keep the former Trojan off his back, they also have to be careful to not get lazy holding penalties while Darnold flees the pocket. Darnold does suffer some accuracy issues in these situations, but his ability to sense pressure is a great tool to have.
Next: 4. Mobility
Mobility partially goes with Darnold’s out of pocket skills. But, this part refers to his sneaky speed. Darnold has some speed, which seems to go overlooked when talking about him.
No, he isn’t going to be Mike Vick, but he can be one of the more elusive quarterbacks in the league. Obviously, utilizing and seeing Darnold’s mobility is completely dependent upon schemes. At USC, he gathered 332 rushing yards on 137 attempts, which resulted in seven rushing touchdowns.
Those numbers are pretty solid for a player that wasn’t in an offense that necessarily had too many designed QB runs in their playbook. Darnold’s career rushing yards per attempt is 2.4, which is right around Mayfield’s 2.7 career rushing yards per attempt.
Mayfield’s rushing numbers are far more than Darnold’s, but Oklahoma ran an offense that had many QB runs, rollouts and operated primarily out of the shotgun.
Next: 3. Arm Talent
3. Arm Talent
Yes, how many times do we all hear the term “arm talent” when the expert analysts are talking about college quarterback prospects? A lot, and it really doesn’t mean much in some circumstances… Jamarcus Russell.
But, Darnold does have great arm talent, and that has already been briefly touched upon with his out of pocket passing. His big arm can be seen in his college numbers from 2017, where he threw for a whopping 4,143 yards and averaged 8.5 yards per attempt.
Those numbers may seem low, but that was all done in only 14 games during a season where the California native struggled at times. You would like to see the yards per attempt numbers be higher, but Drew Brees led the NFL with 8.1 yards per attempt in 2017.
Of course, the NFL is a completely different beast, and I am by no means trying to equate Darnold and Brees. Although, the numbers do correlate and Darnold’s arm talent will make his transition that much smoother.
Next: 2. No pressure to start in 2018
2. No pressure to start in 2018
There will be a large number of people who may disagree with this. Regardless, the coaching staff should not feel the need to give the youngster the starting job right away.
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Darnold is only 20-years old, and he turns 21 in June. He is still incredibly young, which means he can sit back and learn.
Many starting quarterbacks in the NFL don’t jump in right away, and the ones that do sometimes struggle mightily. That’s why it’s best to be patient with Darnold as there is no pressure for him to start this upcoming season.
Letting Darnold get acclimated to living on the complete opposite side of the United States and playing in the sports capital of the world is a great idea. This also helps build his confidence, because fans would lose their minds if he were to start off the bat and he struggled.
Next: 1. Best quarterback on the board
1. Best quarterback on the board
What has general manager Mike Maccagnan’s draft philosophy seemingly been since he took over? Draft the best available, and that is exactly what he did with Darnold.
Darnold is young, polished, and has the right mindset. He can take over the signal-calling duties for the next decade and then some.
The Jets haven’t had a quarterback with this much upside in years, and his ceiling seems to go past the other quarterbacks on the field. Yes, he turns the ball over a lot, but he can fix that over time.
Darnold’s physical assets and athletic ability will allow him to be very successful in the NFL. This is why the Jets drafting him was a great decision and one that should eventually bring future success from the most important position on the team.