With no Trevor Lawrence to select in the 2021 NFL Draft, what will the New York Jets do with their current QB Sam Darnold? Ultimately, Darnold’s future could be in the hands of a new head coach with Adam Gase’s future all but decided. However, according to PFN Insider Benjamin Allbright, current Jets General Manager Joe Douglas has an opinion on what the team should be doing with their young third-year QB.
Joe Douglas has plenty of belief in Sam Darnold
During this week’s PFN Weekly, Allbright reported what he has heard surrounding Douglas and his feelings towards Sam Darnold.
“Internally, Joe Douglas looks at Sam Darnold like a quality quarterback. I think that they believe they can get there [win a Super Bowl] with him. The question is, what do they have to surround him with and if the next HC believes in that the same way he does. Are they even drafting at number two or do they trade back and acquire more picks? I think that’s the most likely destination for them right now.”
Allbright mentioned that the Jets could try and get one of those QB-hungry teams to trade up for Zach Wilson or Justin Fields. However, whenever it comes to top draft picks, things remain fluid and can change in a heartbeat.
With this strategy involving a trade, the Jets could continue to fill out holes on this roster. Allbright highlighted some of the talents on the offense but mentioned the offensive line as a key focus for the Jets.
Allbright even went as far as to say, “If it’s me and I’m the Jets, I’m shopping the number pick, sticking with Darnold, and we’re moving backward in the draft. There’s an internal belief in some league circles that the Jets will stick with Darnold. There were teams lining up to pursue Sam Darnold.”
While it will ultimately hinge on the next head coach, that seems to be the strategy GM Joe Douglas is pursuing.
Note: You can view Allbright talking about the latest on what he’s hearing in the video above. Don’t forget to visit and subscribe to the PFN YouTube Channel for more inside information from around the NFL.
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Some previous examples of similar trades
The Jets had the reverse happen with them in the 2018 NFL Draft when they moved up for Sam Darnold. The Colts had the third overall pick and were preparing for Andrew Luck to come back for another season with a new coaching staff. Indianapolis moved the third pick to the Jets for the sixth overall pick and three second-round picks. The Colts went on to draft Quenton Nelson with that sixth pick.
In the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills both received two first-round picks when they moved down with a QB-needy team. The Browns used Houston’s picks to select Jabrill Peppers and Denzel Ward. The Bills used their picks as part of a package deal to move up for Josh Allen.
The Jets, if they do decide to stick with Sam Darnold, can use these picks to address other needs on their roster. They could also flip these future picks to move up for a quarterback later if this decision doesn’t work out.
How might the Jets build around Sam Darnold?
As Allbright said, the Jets could focus on building the offensive line around Sam Darnold. This includes moving stud left tackle Mekhi Becton over to right tackle if they draft OT Penei Sewell. That may not happen if the team trades down, however. Luckily for the Jets, the 2021 NFL Draft is full of talented offensive linemen.
The Jets could also look to surround Darnold with more skill-position talent. Allbright highlighted WR Denzel Mims and TE Christopher Herndon as talented players, but the team will need more. The 2021 NFL Draft features several elite WR prospects.
With plenty of top talent at critical positions, the Jets’ strategy to trade down and dip into these talent pools repeatedly could pay off.
The Jets will also need to build up the defensive side of the ball to help Sam Darnold. While the defensive line has played well this season, the Jets need to improve their pass-rush and secondary. Unlike the offensive prospects, these talents are at more of a premium in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Acquiring more picks to nab these positions early might be Joe Douglas’ ultimate goal. In Philadelphia, he saw the benefits of having an outstanding pass rush up front.
Is building around Jets QB Sam Darnold the best strategy?
Joe Douglas’ gamble on Sam Darnold is a risky maneuver. While Darnold has had flashes of good play, he’s been inconsistent for three years now. While much of the blame might be placed on Adam Gase, it doesn’t change Darnold’s rocky tenure with the Jets.
Passing on a quarterback is always a risky gamble, especially quarterbacks as talented as Zach Wilson and Justin Fields. While it’s important to build up a team, nabbing a quarterback is always step #1 in a rebuild. If Wilson and/or Fields hits big on the team that trades up for him, Douglas will look like he got played.
Douglas’ strategy, if it works, will be regarded as genius. If it doesn’t, he could find himself out of a job.