Hoping to end their long search for a franchise-caliber quarterback, the New York Jets selected USC's Sam Darnold with the third overall pick Thursday night in the National Football League draft, signaling the start of a new era.
One Trojan legend put to words what many USC fans were thinking when they saw the Cleveland Browns pass on Darnold in order to take Baker Mayfield No. 1 overall. He has the highest ceiling of any of the passers and the right stuff intangible-wise to survive the NY market. So I'm going to go in there, do my thing, do what the coaches ask me to do - and do that at the highest level.
"It feels wonderful", he said after being picked.
The Jets have five quarterbacks on their roster, but when they go to training camp in late July that number stands to shrink.
It's just a small blip compared to what Darnold could bring to the Jets though as he's shown an ability to read opposing defenses like a professional already.
But this draft will be remembered - and ultimately, judged - on what Darnold does.
"I'm taking it head on", Darnold said during a conference call. This pick was not just about a player's ability to play quarterback, it was about the player's ability to handle playing quarterback in NY for the Jets. It's all about the coaches want me to do. New York's chips are the same as those other three franchises, and given Darnold was considered the top pick throughout much of the process, this isn't a gamble. It's believed he was the highest-rated quarterback on the Jets' draft board. One of the big sticking points still might be Teddy Bridgewater's knee.
Meanwhile, Petty - a fourth-rounder in 2015 - and Hackenberg - a second-rounder in 2016 - would seem to have their spots in serious jeopardy.
"He's very young", Maccagnan said. Last season, Darnold threw for a school-record 4,143 yards and 26 touchdowns as USC won the Pac-12 championship for the first time since 2008.
With a veteran like Josh McCown in place for now, Darnold should have enough time to acclimate to the National Football League game before taking over as the face of the franchise. It is the boldest move the team has made since 2009 when they jumped to No. 5 to select Mark Sanchez. If he doesn't, they would get back the seventh-round pick they sent to Indianapolis, but in next year's draft.
And what if Darnold outplays McCown in offseason workouts and the preseason?
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