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Jets 2018 NFL Draft Grades: Reaction to the Sam Darnold Pick

2018 NFL Draft Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

What do some of the experts in the media have to say about the Jets’ selection of Sam Darnold?

Here are some of the Draft grades the Jets have received.

As always, Draft grades are stupid...unless they praise the Jets.

Danny Kelly (The Ringer)

3. New York Jets (from Colts): QB Sam Darnold, USC

After months of speculation as to whether the Jets would take Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, or Baker Mayfield, the Jets’ new franchise passer is … Sam Darnold. I love the draft. Darnold has great size (6-foot-3, 221 pounds), a strong arm, solid accuracy — both from the pocket and on the move — and plenty of athleticism. He throws with anticipation and can make plays both from the pocket or out of structure. He is still raw; the 20-year-old signal-caller was a little too reckless with the football in college (he threw 13 interceptions in 2017), and he’ll need to clean up a few bad habits mechanics-wise before he’s ready to take the field. But he lands in a good situation, where he can sit on the bench behind presumptive starter Josh McCown, acclimate to the speed of the pro game, and immerse himself in Jeremy Bates’s playbook. It may take this pick a year to start paying dividends, but Darnold has the skill set and talent to develop into a Pro Bowl–caliber quarterback in the NFL. Nothing in sports is more valuable.

Fit: A+

Value: A+

Chad Reuter (

New York Jets Draft picks: USC QB Sam Darnold (No. 3 overall).

Day 1 grade: A

The skinny: The Jets gave up three second-round picks to move up three spots to find a quarterback. They might have gotten the top quarterback on their board with Darnold sitting there (though they wouldn’t admit it if he wasn’t their top QB). They paid a pretty high price to get him, but it’s not franchise-killing if it doesn’t work out. It was a good move that could become a great move.

Mike Tanier (Bleacher Report)

3. New York Jets (via Indianapolis): Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Deadly Accurate Quarterback Projection: Less exciting Matt Ryan.

Oh look, Sam Darnold wasn’t selected first overall. That’s mildly surprising, because Darnold is the cleanest quarterback prospect on the draft board, if not the best quarterback at any one thing.

Darnold is not a hyper-talented long-range project like Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson. He lacks the edgy Josh Rosen-Baker Mayfield personality traits that could rattle around like the bottlecap in the garbage disposal when coaches find themselves on the hot seat. Darnold is the luxury sedan of quarterback prospects: The commercials claim you will “stand out from the crowd” by selecting him, but you’ll have a hard time picking him out from the others in the supermarket parking lot.

Luxury sedans are wonderful, of course, especially if you have been driving old 1980s hatchbacks for years. Darnold checks all the boxes as a quarterback of the future, and there is nothing coaches, scouts and execs like more than checking all of their little boxes. Darnold should grow into a very good quarterback and could become a great one, but there is nothing about him that will get an NFL decision-maker fired for this selection, which is the best attribute any NFL prospect can enter the draft with.

The Jets played the predraft market incredibly well in the offseason. (There’s a sentence I never thought I would type.) They traded second-round picks to leapfrog over the Broncos and the Browns’ potential trading partners for the fourth pick, then gambled correctly that the chips would fall a certain way with the first two selections. A new Jets era that should have begun three years ago is finally beginning. There’s much more work to be done, but at least the team finally acquired the piece it should have started with.

Grade: A

Dan Kadar (SB Nation)

3. New York Jets: Sam Darnold, QB, Southern California

When the Browns passed on Darnold this became the obvious choice for the Jets. After the failed moves with Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty, the Jets can have their franchise signal caller in Darnold.

Darnold’s flaws are obvious. He has to figure out his turnover issues — both fumbling and throwing interceptions — but he’s good at throwing his receivers open and he’s unflappable. Now it’s up to the Jets to surround him with talent and a good offensive line in the coming years.

Grade: B+

Andy Benoit (Sports Illustrated)


The Jets traded a boatload to move up and draft a QB, and they didn’t know which QB it’d be. Presumably, they never dreamed it’d be Darnold, whom many thought to be the best all-around quarterback in this draft. Darnold has a unique ability to make plays off-schedule, but it’s always a crapshoot whether that translates to the NFL. As a rhythmic, pocket player (which is where consistent NFL success is found), he’ll need some mechanical polishing, and not just in his throwing motion, which is awkward but not grossly flawed. He’ll also need better weapons around him. The Jets have some important picks ahead of them in Rounds 3-7.


Pete Prisco (CBS Sports)

Grade: C

Pete Prisco: It’s a safe pick, but I have my doubts about his game. They had to take a quarterback, but why not Allen or Rosen?