The New York Jets got one of the greatest gifts in the 2018 NFL Draft when the Cleveland Browns and New York Giants both passed up the opportunity to take Sam Darnold out of USC.
In a column for ESPN, Rich Cimini details how Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan was so enamored with Darnold that he took seven trips to Southern California during the scouting process.
“The Jets scouted Darnold so intensely last season that Maccagnan flew to the West Coast on four consecutive weekends to watch him play, twice returning on red-eye flights immediately after the game so he could watch the Jets on Sunday,” Cimini wrote. “From last September to April 15, the day of a secret workout on the Southern California campus, Maccagnan made seven Darnold trips to California. Each time, he left thinking the same thing: We love him, but we’ll never get him.”
Well, with a little help from the Giants and Browns, they did. Maccagnan couldn’t believe his luck when Darnold was still on the board at No. 3, and the Jets happily got the man he coveted for well over a year.
Darnold now walks into a perfect situation with the Jets. They have veteran Josh McCown there. He’ll be starting the season under center unless Darnold absolutely takes the job in training camp, and there isn’t a better veteran out there to help train up a young kid. Teddy Bridgewater is also a tremendous guy to have in that quarterback room, and both the veterans will be pouring into Darnold from Day 1.
The Jets have already parted ways with Bryce Petty, and it won’t be surprising if Christian Hackenberg follows him out the door soon. With Darnold behind McCown and Bridgewater, Gang Green has a very nice group to work with going forward.
It’s impossible to say a player will or won’t be a success at the NFL level. But Darnold and the Jets are set up for success, to be sure.