There’s a strong possibility the New York Jets will have their pick of any quarterback they want in the 2018 NFL Draft. Let’s break them down.
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With the pageantry and sounds of college fight songs filling the air, the New York Jets’ never-ending search for a franchise quarterback has begun once again. It is the time of year for general manager Mike Maccagnan and his group of talent evaluators to analyze every snap, throw and run.
While the NCAA offers an abundance of high-ceiling prospects, there are four primary targets for Gang Green. USC signal caller Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph and the Wyoming Cowboy, Josh Allen. All four should all peak the interest of Maccagnan.
Throughout the NCAA season, ESNY will keep a spotlight on these future NFL stars and any other quarterbacks that present themselves as targets for the Jets. If you are not familiar with the names, you will be.
Sam Darnold, USC
If there was a college quarterback factory, Sam Darnold would be the prototype. With a 6’4″ frame, Darnold has the size that leaves NFL evaluators drooling.
But size isn’t the only attribute that will have NFL executives chomping at the bit at the 2018 NFL Draft. Darnold showed great resolve over the 2016 NCAA season, and especially on the biggest stage against a rejuvenated Penn State program in the Rose Bowl.
The one knock you will hear about Darnold is in the way he throws the ball. His throwing motion isn’t the best in college, but it gets the job done. It’s a bit longer than coaches like, but his release more than makes up for it.
As it stands, Darnold is the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, with current odds at 9-2. While the highly touted quarterback will undoubtedly turn heads, he has some stiff competition to walk away with the prize.
Where to watch: vs. Western Michigan, 5:15 p.m. ET, PAC12 Network
Josh Rosen, UCLA
Josh Rosen, another Heisman hopeful and PAC12 quarterback, will also be a player under the Jets’ microscope. Rosen stands at a similar stature to that of Darnold, making him an ideal prospect for Maccagnan.
Rosen spent half of the 2016 campaign nursing a shoulder injury, though he made the most of the six games he did appear in, tossing for 1,915 yards.
Out of the four mentioned quarterbacks, Rosen may have the most to prove based on the time missed last season. If he can recapture the magic he displayed during his freshman year, Rosen may end up at the top of the Jets’ wish list.
While he currently faces 20-1 odds to win the Heisman, he is a long shot. The PAC12 is filled with fast defenses that will give Rosen fits, and the quality of teams the unranked UCLA rolls out this season does not match up with programs like #4 USC and #14 Stanford.
Where to watch: vs. Texas A&M, 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX
Josh Allen, Wyoming
If asked to name five players from the Wyoming Cowboys football program, most people could not. But make no mistake about it: See Josh Allen play once and you’ll remember him for a long time.
Allen sprinted on to the scene during the 2016 season delivering highlight after highlight, utilizing a talented arm and dazzling feet. He brings an aura of football player likened to that of a Brett Favre.
While their talents are similar, their flaws resemble one another as well. If Allen is indeed a target of the Jets, the pains associated with going from a smaller school to the largest media market in the world may make his learning curve a bit longer than those of the other three.
For the Jets, winning may not come right away, but Allen’s ability to entertain will light up MetLife Stadium from day one. At 100-1 odds, Allen essentially has no shot of winning the Heisman. But his biggest prize may come in April as the top pick in the draft.
Where to watch: vs. Iowa, 12:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
The top four quarterback prospects have two major things in common: size and arm strength. That is what brings Mason Rudolph to the conversation.
Rudolph will be a consolation prize to those who do not have the correct draft pick to select Darnold, Rosen or Allen. But make no mistake about it, Rudolph has all the tools to not only be a good quarterback but to surpass the aforementioned signal callers.
What hurts Rudolph the most is Oklahoma State’s spread offense. It allows for easier throws and may hide the exceptional arm talent that Rudolph has the ability to display.
At 20-1 odds, Rudolph will be in the conversation for the Heisman. It will take a shining season from the South Carolina product for him to surpass Darnold and Baker Mayfield in the voting.
Where to watch: vs. Tulsa, 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1