NY Jets: Ranking the 53-man roster — No. 2 Sam Darnold

NY Jets, Sam Darnold (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
NY Jets, Sam Darnold (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /

After another lost NY Jets season, it’s time to evaluate this 53-man roster. This daily ranking continues with No. 2 quarterback Sam Darnold.

The NY Jets finally have a potential franchise quarterback in 2018 first-round pick Sam Darnold. The young gunslinger certainly flashes greatness. Yet he is the definition of a work in progress.

Judging from the cornucopia of excuses made by Florham Park for this team’s lousy 1-7 start on Darnold’s three-game freak bout with mononucleosis, one would’ve that thought that the entire New York Jets offense had been quarantined on some cruise ship for coronavirus.

But when Darnold finally settled in, and the first-team began to gel, Gang Green finished the year 6-2.

Darnold, in his second season, completed 61.9 percent of his passes for 3,024 yards with 19 TDs and 13 INTs. Pretty impressive given the fact that every time he sat back in the pocket, he ended up getting crushed or running for his life.

Darnold went 7-6 as a starter in a crazy 2019 season. He endured 30 sacks and 10 fumbles in 458 dropbacks, accounting for his 45.4 QBR  and 63.4 Pro Football Focus grade.

Depending on the metrics or sources used, this QB ranked between No. 23 and No. 31 in the league this past season.

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Going into season three, it is reasonable to question whether the USC kid will be the right quarterback for the roaring 20s. After all, Darnold possesses Peyton Manning pocket presence in this Patrick Mahomes/Lamar Jackson era of electrifying rushers lined up under center.

The other 400-pound gorilla in this locker room is whether “quarterback whisper” Adam Gase is the right teacher to lead young Darnold to the promised land. All signs point upwards, but take nothing for granted.

The second-youngest player on this roster knows that he needs to improve on ball security and his panic throws. So while it’d be incorrect to imply that the USC kid’s success is a given, his career arc mirrors many of the greats of the game.

Most importantly, general manager Joe Douglas, who had no allegiances, expresses genuine excitement.

“I saw unbelievable growth from Sam. I think he has innate leadership qualities. Guys gravitate towards him and guys respect him for what he’s all about as a player and as a person. I’m so excited to get this offseason going, for him to get back with his teammates and really get this offense off the ground and going for 2020.”

Next. NY Jets: Breaking down 2020 ESPN offseason free agency predictions

Here’s to hoping that Sam Darnold could take the next step towards stardom in 2020.