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NFL Draft

If Jets Get No 1 Pick, There’s Only 1 Choice To Make At QB

  • The Draft Network
  • September 23, 2020
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There’s plenty of season left to be played, but things don’t look great for the New York Jets. After falling to the Buffalo Bills in Week 1, the Jets dropped their home opener to the San Francisco 49ers by a 31-13 margin. 

The Jets showed last year that they can turn a season around for a respectable finish. After beginning 2019 with a 1-7 mark, New York closed the season by winning six of its final eight games to finish at 7-9. With that said, this year’s New York team has been the least competitive of any team in the NFL to start the year.

Under the questionable leadership of Adam Gase, who is coaching a roster devoid of talent, the Jets are trending toward picking very high in the 2021 NFL Draft, perhaps even at No. 1 overall. With that being a reasonable possibility and prized quarterback Trevor Lawrence already stating this is his last year at Clemson, the Jets have an interesting decision to make on what direction to go if they do get the top pick. 

Should they stick with Darnold and try to correctly build around him with a new head coach or should they go in a new direction with Lawrence?

If the Jets earn the No. 1 overall pick, not enough went right for Darnold in his third season as the Jets’ starter. To date, Darnold has played like one would expect for a passer in his early 20s, that entered the league with 24 starts at the college level, who has been surrounded with instability since entering the league—up and down with some discouraging lowlights. But is he fixable?

Despite the less than ideal circumstances surrounding Darnold with the Jets in 2019, in addition to him missing three starts due to mononucleosis, there was growth as a sophomore. Darnold completed 4.2% more of his passes, his passer rating climbed 6.7 points, and his touchdown percentage and adjusted net yards per attempt improved. 

His 2020 campaign is off to a poor start. His 44.4 QBR ranks 31st in the NFL, -37.1% DVOA slots him 28th, and DYAR of -63 puts him at 28th. On the Ross Tucker Football Podcast, Greg Cossell expressed significant concerns regarding Darnold.

The book is far from written on Darnold. At the end of the day, he is a 23-year-old quarterback that was picked No. 3 overall in the draft that has been surrounded by poor coaching and talent. With that said, there’s no circumstance where the Jets should pass on Lawrence with the No. 1 overall pick. The worst thing an organization can do is cling to a mistake at quarterback, especially passing on opportunities to upgrade the most important position in the game. 

The Arizona Cardinals moved on from Josh Rosen just one year after trading up into the top 10 of the draft to secure him. The Cardinals picked Kyler Murray No. 1 overall and there’s not a single person questioning Arizona general manager Steve Keim’s decision to move on from Rosen and roll with Murray now. Instead, Arizona is viewed as an upstart franchise with one of the league’s most dynamic young quarterbacks. The Jets simply cannot pass up that opportunity. 

The best thing for Darnold could be a change of scenery, and the Jets will have plenty of suitors in a trade. Teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, and New Orleans Saints immediately come to mind as destinations. 

Darnold and the Jets have the opportunity in front of them to flip the script on the direction this season is heading. But if they don’t, New York shouldn’t hesitate to hire a new coach to replace Gase and make Lawrence the No. 1 pick in the draft. Any other course would be grossly irresponsible.

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