The received a double dose of Hollywood on Wednesday night, as USC‘s and UCLA‘s both announced they‘re leaving school to become professional quarterbacks.
So now the landscape is set for quarterback-needy teams such as the . The three highest-rated quarterbacks have declared for the draft — Wyoming‘s is the third — and it‘s up to Mike Maccagnan to formulate a strategy. This will be the biggest decision in his three-plus years as the general manager.
Option No. 1: If Maccagnan falls in love with one of the big three, he should try to trade up from the sixth spot. He y that he‘s open to moving up for the right player, but it will be difficult because you have to figure the (first pick) and (second) — both in the quarterback market — won‘t be in the mood to deal.
Darnold vs. Rosen
UCLA‘s Josh Rosen and USC‘s Sam Darnold, the top two quarterbacks in the 2018 NFL draft, per Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay, both declared for the draft on Wednesday. McShay has Rosen ranked first and Darnold third overall among all prospects in his most recent Top 32, while both are lower in Kiper‘s top five in his last Big Board, with Rosen fourth and Darnold fifth. A comparison of their 2017 college statistics:
DarnoldRosenGames1411Pass YPG295.9341.5Comp pct63%63%Pass TD-Int26-1326-10Total QBR7567ESPN Stats & Information
The (third) were just handed a winning lottery ticket, thanks to the Darnold/Rosen news. Because they don‘t need a quarterback and could be looking to deal, the Colts will receive plenty of attractive offers for the pick. Would Maccagnan trade up for the third quarterback off the board? Again, it would take a strong conviction. If you‘re a fan, you hope his objectivity isn‘t clouded by desperation.
There‘s always Oklahoma‘s , although I‘d be stunned — stunned! — if the Jets picked him at No. 6. If you look at Maccagnan‘s drafting history, you‘ll see he‘s a height-weight-speed guy who looks for prototypical traits at each position. I can‘t see him picking a 6-foot quarterback from a video-game offense who, by the way, also has character questions.
Option No. 2: If Maccagnan determines that none of the big three is worth the sixth pick, he must make a significant move in free agency. By that, I mean or (trade), for starters. There will be other options, too, but you get the point: The Jets will need a proven starter who can win games immediately. Cousins is in a different category because you‘re talking about a long-term marriage. If the Jets sign him, they‘re basically saying, “The hell with drafting a quarterback for the next few years.”
The calendar could play a factor in this decision. The college pro days don‘t wrap up until late March (they were March 21 and 22 last year at UCLA and USC, respectively), and free agency starts March 12. This means the Jets might have to move on a big-name veteran before getting a complete evaluation on the top college prospects.
By the way, Darnold, Rosen and Allen aren‘t can‘t-miss players. Each one has intriguing upside, but Darnold has turnover issues, Rosen has a questionable attitude and Allen has an accuracy concern (only a 56 percent completion rate at a lower level of competition). Personally, I‘d say Darnold is the safest pick of the three.
If the Jets decide they don‘t want a quarterback in the first round, they still should get a very good player. If three quarterbacks get picked in the top five, it‘ll push a couple of top prospects down to the Jets. Maybe they could get Penn State running back or NC State edge rusher or LSU edge rusher , who declared Thursday.