NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As NFL Draft hype goes, the last few weeks leading up to the start of the first round on Thursday night in Arlington, Texas, have been as crazy as any in recent memory.
With five potential franchise quarterbacks expected to go in the first 32 picks, one can understand why.
Well, here’s some more for you to chew on.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Cleveland Browns are at least considering selecting reigning Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 overall pick. If they do, it would be a departure from recent conventional thinking.
Most experts have had the Browns focused on two other star signal-callers, USC’s Sam Darnold and Wyoming’s Josh Allen. Yet, the idea of Oklahoma’s Mayfield becoming the face of the perennially hapless Browns was burning up the internet throughout Thursday morning.
Now, if the Browns do go in that direction, it would set up the Jets at No. 3 to potentially get Darnold, the guy they may have wanted all along. Of course, the Giants could have something to say about that at No. 2, considering their needs at the position, but at worst the Jets would get their hands on Darnold or UCLA’s Josh Rosen, who many believe are the top two quarterbacks available.
Long before the rebuilding Jets surprised many by winning five games in 2017, many figured them to be a lock for the No. 1 overall pick, and with that selection they were expected to grab Darnold, provided he actually declared for the draft. But the Jets actually performing above expectations ended up landing them in the sixth spot in the first round, a position that was likely going to prevent them from selecting Darnold or Rosen.
But then the Jets got bold, engineering a trade with the Indianapolis Colts last month that moved them up three spots and into a much more favorable slot. Since then, constant reports have had the Jets linked with Mayfield, who initially looked like a gettable commodity at No. 6. However, his stock has risen considerably in recent weeks. So much so, that it’s now possible his name will be the first commissioner Roger Goodell announces when he gets to the podium on Thursday night at AT&T Stadium.
Of all the top quarterback prospects, Darnold may have the highest ceiling. Draft experts have labeled Rosen and Mayfield the most ready to start immediately in the NFL, with Darnold, Allen and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson likely needing a little seasoning before being handed the keys to a franchise.
There’s no denying Darnold’s tools. His prototypical 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame, rocket arm and high football IQ have had NFL scouts and executives drooling for the last two years. He has struggled at times with his accuracy, but not to the point where teams have shown measurable concern.
Darnold also drew rave reviews at USC’s pro day on March 28, wowing everyone in attendance despite soggy conditions. The Browns and basically every other team were at that workout, so there’s nothing about Darnold that should come as a surprise. He has franchise quarterback written all over him.
Regardless of how it all shakes out, the Jets are in a very good position. Short of general manager Mike Maccagnan going in a shockingly different direction, the Jets will get themselves a quarterback that could make everyone forget that their last true franchise guy played basically 50 years ago.
His name is Joe Namath. Maybe you’ve heard of him.