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Breaking down how Sam Darnold is doing so far this offseason

By Bob Lederer
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: Sam Darnold of USC poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #3 overall by the New York Jets during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: Sam Darnold of USC poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #3 overall by the New York Jets during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
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Here’s a breakdown on how New York Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold is doing so far this offseason compared to others in the Big 4.

Leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft on April 26, general manager Mike Maccagnan and his staff knew a young quarterback would be their Round 1 selection. But who did the New York Jets prefer and who would be available to pluck from the four top-rated college quarterbacks?

Even if it was true that Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield was Maccagnan’s personal favorite, that no longer mattered when the Cleveland Browns made him the first overall pick in this year’s draft. The New York Giants did the Jets a big favor by selecting Saquon Barkley, leaving Gang Green with a choice from the three remaining quarterbacks.

Josh Rosen from UCLA was deemed the most pro-ready of the trio and Wyoming’s Josh Allen offered the consensus biggest arm, but Maccagnan passed on both.

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Sam Darnold both “fell” to the Jets and was preferred to Rosen and Allen.

How is it working out so far?

Darnold’s progress–his brains, arm, and resourcefulness — were the talk of Jets’ camp. Josh McCown, who returned in 2018 for stability at the quarterback position and tutoring of Darnold, was impressed enough to drop the word “stardom” about the former Trojan. Perhaps most noteworthy, he never made the same mistake twice.

Meanwhile, in Cleveland, it took offensive coordinator Todd Haley only three days of practice to state that Mayfield had made “very good progress,” however “has a long way to go” to overtake Tyrod Taylor (imported from Buffalo) as the Browns’ starting quarterback.

Some observers have pointed to Mayfield’s shortcomings that were no secret before the draft. Basically, his short stature, comparatively inferior athleticism compared to other short quarterbacks, and acceptable but not imposing arm strength. It was even suggested that Haley’s offensive system may need significant revisions to tap into Mayfield’s strengths.

Up in Buffalo, Allen has thrown the ball amazing distances and he has been extolled for his leadership skills, personality, and acceptance by veterans. Accuracy – his college problem – has, not surprisingly, been apparent. His timing with professional receivers has also emerged as an issue.

Out west in Arizona, where veteran Sam Bradford will start for the Cardinals, Rosen took an unusually large number of snaps from center. Not because he was blowing away the quarterback competition, but due to Bradford being shielded from potential injury with prolonged time on the sideline during practice. Rosen, who is not expected to start in 2018 except if there are injuries, has been praised for his “mindset of a vet.”

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So far, the gods seem to have smiled on the Jets’ analysis of their college quarterback options and their desire for Darnold. He seems to be a superior immediate fit in New York than the choices made by the Browns and Bills, respectively.

The Cardinals, who are focused on winning now, feel fortunate to have found Rosen with the ninth pick in the first round, and are putting no pressure on him. By the looks of it, Darnold is leading the pack as training camp looms.

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