New York Jets: 5 Reasons Sam Darnold Will Live Up to the Hype

New York Jets, Sam Darnold
(Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)

The New York Jets took a gamble by investing serious draft capital in SUC quarterback Sam Darnold. And here’s why their investment will pay off handsomely.

On his first pass during team drills, New York Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold tossed an interception. Fans of the young signal-caller likely winced a bit, recalling how the Jets gave up three second-round picks (two in 2018 and one in 2019) to move up and grab the USC prospect at No. 3 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Turnovers, particularly the 13 picks thrown last year in college, were a concern about Darnold’s abilities heading towards the draft. On top of throwing interceptions, Darnold had a tendency to fumble the ball too — 20 times during his collegiate tenure.

Sam Darnold Passing Table
Passing
Year School Conf Class Pos G Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int Rate
*2015 USC Pac-12 FR QB
*2016 USC Pac-12 FR QB 13 246 366 67.2 3086 8.4 9.0 31 9 161.1
*2017 USC Pac-12 SO QB 14 303 480 63.1 4143 8.6 8.5 26 13 148.1
Career USC 549 846 64.9 7229 8.5 8.7 57 22 153.7
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 8/4/2018.

If those are the negatives, there’s certainly a lot to like about Darnold’s potential. If there wasn’t, the rebuilding Jets wouldn’t have made such a lofty investment — the trade-up with the Indianapolis Colts to grab Darnold within the top three.

New York has a promising little quarterback battle developing in training camp. Josh McCown returned after a solid 2017 effort, and the Jets brought aboard former Minnesota Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater this offseason too.

That was all before Darnold joined the fray, however. And he’s clearly the future. The only question is when he takes over the starting reins.

According to ESPN’s Rich Cimini, Darnold was already seeing first-team reps on his first day after signing his rookie deal. That’s all intention the Jets are strongly considering handing him the starting job if he’s able to impress enough during training camp and the preseason.

But the rookie will have to do more than just impress in camp and during exhibition games. Round 1 quarterbacks, especially ones taken in the top 10, are expected to be franchise cornerstones — pieces around which teams can build for five, 10 or 15 years. That’s the kind of pressure Darnold is under in New York.

And here are five reasons why he’ll meet and exceed them.

Next Page: No. 5