The Jets held the sixth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. However, the team decided to trade three second-round picks to move up three spots in the first round.
The Jets would then use the third overall pick that they acquired from the Indianapolis Colts to select Sam Darnold. There was a lot of hype surrounding the former USC Trojan and many thought he would revive the Jets’ franchise.
The team’s decision to trade three second-round picks did not pay off and drafting Darnold ultimately turned out to be a mistake. While these three years with Darnold may not have gone as planned, there are still things that the Jets should have learned over that time.
Don’t crown anyone too early
Many thought that Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith were going to be the Jets’ franchise quarterback. Sanchez has retired from the NFL and Smith has started in just two games over the past six seasons.
After completing 16-of-21 passes for 198 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in his first career game — a 48-17 victory on the road over the Detroit Lions — many assumed that Sam Darnold was going to be a future star.
However, that clearly has not been the case.
If Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, or whoever the Jets starting quarterback will be has a strong showing in Week 1, it would be wrong to crown them as the franchise’s savior just yet.
The Jets do not deserve the benefit of the doubt.
“Talent” won’t solve everything
Many have pointed out that Sam Darnold will become a great quarterback because of how “talented” he is. Tom Brady is the best quarterback in the history of football, but far from the most talented.
The seven-time Super Bowl champion has never had the strongest arm and has certainly never been very athletic. Josh Allen was 6-foot-5 with athleticism and a cannon arm when he entered the league, so why didn’t he emerge as a top-five quarterback in the league until his third season?
Likely because he improved his accuracy, something that Sam Darnold still needs to do. What player that’s a top-three pick in the NFL Draft isn’t “talented”?
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If the Jets use their second overall pick on Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, or Trey Lance, it doesn’t automatically mean that they will end up becoming superstars.
JaMarcus Russell and others have been top-three selections in the NFL Draft and have had unsuccessful pro careers. Even if Darnold is as talented as some people claim he is, that alone won’t make him a good quarterback.
Supporting cast matters
While Sam Darnold has struggled as an NFL quarterback, we can’t ignore the fact that he hasn’t been given a fair chance. Darnold has had questionable coaching staffs around him while being forced to play with poor offensive lines and weak receiving corps.
Darnold’s lack of help certainly doesn’t completely excuse his poor play, but it shouldn’t be ignored. It may not be easy for the Jets’ new starting quarterback to find success if the team doesn’t improve the rest of the roster.
The Jets will likely select a quarterback with the second overall pick in the upcoming draft.
The franchise should try to learn from what went wrong in these past three years with Darnold and not repeat the same mistakes.