Monday, January 18, 2021

Sam Darnold or Trevor Lawrence – the QB question for the New York Jets

We are neatly at the end of the 2020 campaign and many teams are now looking to the off season to try and improve their team in free agency and the NFL draft. As it stands, the NY Jets are guaranteed the Number 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft after what has been a truly abysmal season.

All the mock draft reports that I have read over the last few weeks have Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence going first overall to the Jets. Billed as a generational talent and the best QB prospect since Andrew Luck, it would seem the Jets would be foolish to pass up on him. He could turn into the new Patrick Mahomes and literally stun the NFL, turning the Jets into real contenders in a few years time.

On the other hand, the Jets traded up in 2018 to land Sam Darnold – one of the best QB prospects of that year. Colin Cowherd of The Herd billed him as one of the standout QB prospects in recent memory and should be picked first overall by the Browns. With the Browns going a different direction, the Jets mortgaged then house to snag their QB of the future. Three years later, they are considering moving on. But is this really Sam Darnold’s fault or is it the fault of the organisation?

Sam Darnold has struggled at times in his short NFL tenure
Sam Darnold has struggled at times in his short NFL tenure, but is a move to Trevor Lawrence the best move?

The Jets stick with Sam Darnold

It could be argued that Darnold has had a rough time in the NFL since he was drafted in 2018. In the three years he has played for the Jets, he has been sacked a massive 88 times by opposing defences. This would make a huge dent in any players confidence, no matter who you are. When combined with the lack of legitimate weapons for Darnold to throw to down field, he was destined to struggle from the moment he stepped foot into the Jets organisation.

Judging by his stats, he is far from a poor QB. Throwing for 3024 yards last season with a TD/INT rate of 19/13, it shows that he can step up and play arguably one of the most demanding positions in all of sports. If the Jets were to invest in players to help Darnold, then there is no reason why he can’t succeed in the NFL.

However, Darnold does have his critics; many of them coming from his own fan base. The Jets are some of the most passionate fans in the NFL and once they have made their mind up on someone, there is rarely a chance for redemption.

Brining in a new head coach and investing their draft picks wisely can help Sam Darnold succeed in New York. OT Penei Sewell from Oregon is one of the best OT prospects we have seen in many years. Drafting him with the first overall pick will help keep Darnold upright and anchor the offensive line. With a plethora of top rated wide receivers declaring for this years draft, the Jets can add some much needed help to their offensive to score touchdowns.

The bonus with this scenario is the Jets also have gaping holes in their defence, especially after the departure of Jamal Adams. By investing in a handful of offensive weapons, they will also be able to plug the gaps in the defence, instead of trying to rebuild again around a young QB.

Trevor Lawrence is touted as the next great NFL Quarterback
Trevor Lawrence is touted as the next great NFL Quarterback

The Jets draft Trevor Lawrence with the Number 1 Pick in the Draft

As it stands, this seems to be the most likely scenario as we head into the off season. The Jets are in dire need of change. They have already sacked their defence co-ordinator and their head coach will soon be out of the door (I’m amazed he hasn’t been given the sack before now to be honest).

Trading away Sam Darnold to a QB needy team seems like the right move, adding further draft capital in the hope to draft the future of the organisation. However, many analysts believe that Darnold is worth no more than a third round pick, which is a huge blow to a young QB who, at least three years ago, had the world at his feet.

Trevor Lawrence has been billed as a generational talent and rightly so. Many scouts have openly declared that he is the best QB prospect since Andrew Luck in 2012. He already has one championship and two undefeated regular college seasons under his belt. Lawrence’s stats are also impressive with a 32-1 W/L ratio and a 85/14 TD/INT ratio. Those numbers are insane. He is also praised for his maturity and leadership skills; traits that the back office of the Jets will be looking for.

Going by this information and the praise surrounding this young QB, it would be bad business if the Jets decide to walk away from Lawrence and stick with Sam Darnold. It must also be said that other QB’s drafted in the same year (Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson) have already turned into solid franchise QB’s with Jackson even picking up MVP honours last year. It could be argued that Darnold has had his chance to prove to the Jets back office and their fan base that he can step up and lead them back to their glory days of Joe Namath.

Drafting Lawrence in the 2021 Draft would send the Jets into a firm rebuild mode, but as we have seen with both the Browns and the Dolphins, a change of leadership and the injection of young blood can make all the difference to an NFL franchise.

Trevor Lawrence decides he doesn’t want to play for the Jets

This third scenario is unlikely to happen, however as we know, it has happened before with Eli Manning and the Chargers. But no matter how unlikely it sounds, it is still something that could potentially happen leading up to the draft.

To really appreciate where I am going with this, let’s take a look at Joe Burrow in his first season with the Bengals. After seeing his draft stock sky rocket the latter half of the 2019 college season, the Bengals opted to trade away Andy Dalton and run with Joe Burrow instead. Although the move was the right call for the organisation, the Bengals have been unable to protect their young QB efficiently enough, leading to a season ending injury in week 11.

Before that moment he had passed for 2688 yards with a 13/5 TD/INT ratio, placing him firmly in the picture for OROY. Although Burrow is young and should be back to work by the beginning of next season, he can ill afford to take too many big hits like that. Just remember what happened to Andrew Luck.

The Jets have serious problems with their offensive line and as a result, Burrow took a hit that has ruled him out of the season. The Jets have exactly the same problems with the O-Line. Trevor Lawrence may decide to refuse to play for the Jets due to what happened to Burrow and effectively hold out for the season.

If the Jets are faced with this situation, they could be forced to make a few decisions. Draft Lawrence anyway and decide that if he holds out then so be it, offer a kings ransom for the number one pick and force someone to mortgage the house to trade for it, or finally, draft another QB. Although Trevor Lawrence is the pick of the litter, there are other outstanding QB prospects in this years draft class.

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