The NY Jets must draft a quarterback second overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The fate of the NY Jets‘ franchise was altered in a potentially major way during a surprise victory against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 13 of the 2020 NFL season.
This win, which was one of the biggest upsets the league has seen in over a quarter of a century, coupled with a second win against the Cleveland Browns, caused the team to shift from the first spot in the 2021 NFL Draft to the second.
While these wins kept the team from the embarrassing distinction of a historically poor record, it also instantaneously demolished the chance of landing generational Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
This has led to a major dilemma for Joe Douglas and the Jets’ front office. Does the franchise use their No. 2 pick to select a quarterback to help transition to the next era of winning football? Or do they attempt to salvage the career of recent top pick Sam Darnold by adding talent around him?
Fox Sports radio host Colin Cowherd has suggested the latter option is New York’s best course. This is a sentiment that seems to be growing.
While the idea of salvaging the union with the former No. 3 overall pick seems nice in theory, the franchise is in need of a major overhaul. If the Jets hope to build a serious postseason contender, they must draft a quarterback with their No. 2 overall pick.
The current mediocrity of the NY Jets
The team’s need for a change is made all the more pressing in light of the early struggles of incumbent starter Sam Darnold. Despite his pedigree as a former top prospect, the early results from both the quarterback and the franchise have been subpar.
Darnold currently holds a 12-24 lifetime record, with a mark of 42 touchdowns and 37 interceptions. He has also failed to throw for more than 3,024 yards in any of his three seasons. This is a concerning mark for a modern quarterback in a historically skilled passing era.
To be fair, Darnold has had shockingly little help. His career arc could be surprisingly similar to fellow 2018 NFL Draft alumni and No, 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield.
Mayfield has led a team to a postseason berth while Darnold’s last recourse is to fight for his starting job. The difference in supporting casts has made all the difference.
However, the issues with Darnold go deeper than stats. As his sophomore season concludes, the franchise has a bleak and dismal feel. All of the excitement that once defined his arrival has now been replaced with hopelessness and concern.
The Jets desperately need a fresh start. And the 2021 NFL Draft gives them the perfect opportunity for an infusion of change and hope.
The trade chip
Please don’t misunderstand, while Darnold may not be the future QB of the Jets, he does still hold value. He is just a few seasons removed from being one of the highest-rated quarterback prospects.
The fact that his struggles have come with the dysfunctional Jets will assuredly leave opposing GM’s confidence in their team’s ability to rehab him.
There has been some speculation that the Jets could start the negotiations as high as a late first-round pick. While this seems a bit high, there should be no shortage of teams in the market for a young signal-caller this offseason.
Should the Jets successfully move Darnold for draft capital, they would be set up well for a strong rebuild. They could use the No. 2 pick on a top QB while adding skill in other areas from the Darnold picks and the capital they acquired in the Jamal Adams trade.
This would be a great building block for the future.
The Jets desperately need a spark to ignite change within their organization. While the loss of Lawrence stings as deeply as any on-field score during the season, the organization must stay its course.
New York is still in the enviable position of landing the second overall pick in what appears to be a quarterback heavy draft. Players like Ohio State’s Justin Fields, BYU’s Zach Wilson, and possibly even North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, could all be contenders to join Gang Green.
It will be important that the team does their homework as they evaluate these names, as well as any others who may gain steam throughout the draft process. However, should they find a player who fits their vision, the team must pull the trigger.
The franchise has a real opportunity to have a direction altering offseason. They must simply ensure they do one thing — draft a new signal-caller this April.