When the Jets looked like they’d go winless in 2020, it seemed obvious they’d move on from quarterback Sam Darnold to draft Trevor Lawrence.
But now that the Jaguars are selecting at No. 1 and the Jets are No. 2, the decision on Darnold doesn’t seem quite so easy.
In Robert Saleh’s introductory press conference on Thursday, the new head coach understandably wasn’t ready to declare Darnold the starting QB for training camp.
“There’s a lot of things that we have to do moving forward. We’re just getting the staff into the building, so there’s so many things that we have to do from an evaluation standpoint with regards to the entire roster — not just at quarterback,” Saleh said. “To give you that answer right now would not be fair. There’s a lot of discussions that need to be had with Joe’s staff and obviously himself. So to give you that answer right now would be a bit premature.”
But Saleh did have some complimentary things to say about Darnold, stemming from coaching against him in the 2020 season and his conversations with Jets officials.
“What I can tell you with regards to Sam is he’s got an unbelievable arm talent,” Saleh said. “There’s a reason why he was the No. 3 pick in the draft. He’s fearless in the pocket. He’s got a natural throwing motion. He’s mobile. He’s extremely intelligent. He’s tough as nails. His reputation in the locker room is unquestioned. Just that in general — there’s a reason why he was the third pick in the draft and you can see all those qualities on tape and in the building [from] the way people speak about him.”
Darnold has a career 59.8 completion percentage through 38 games in three seasons, with 8,097 yards, 45 touchdowns, and 39 interceptions.
How New York decides to handle the QB position and the No. 2 overall pick will have ripple effects throughout the league.