The New York Jets will be drafting a quarterback with the third pick in the draft tomorrow night, this was obvious from the moment that they (wisely) swapped their sixth-overall pick and three second-round picks to move up three spots in the draft. Mike Maccagnan didn’t trade away all those picks to not take a quarterback. They’ll definitely take a quarterback, the question is which one?
There are at least five quarterbacks that will be drafted tomorrow night; Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson. The Jets won’t be picking Jackson, they wouldn’t have traded up if they were targeting Jackson, and they almost certainly won’t be drafting Darnold simply because he will likely be going to the Browns with the first-overall pick. That leaves Rosen, Mayfield and Allen as the options, everything we are hearing suggests the Jets are not considering Allen but you can’t completely rule out the possibility.
Before they traded up I thought Mike Maccagnan might be targeting Allen, but I just can’t see him trading assets to move up and take another raw quarterback that despite his upside is clearly a project. Maccagnan can’t wait for whoever he picks to sit and develop, even if Allen ends up being good one day Maccagnan can’t risk him no longer being here to see it. Rosen and Mayfield are both ready to start now and they both have the potential to be Pro Bowl caliber quarterbacks in this league.
So which one will they pick? And which one should they pick? We don’t know for sure but the good news is I don’t think they can go wrong with either Rosen or Mayfield. I have the quarterbacks ranked Rosen, Mayfield, Jackson, Darnold then Allen. The gap between Rosen and Mayfield is remarkably tiny with a bigger gap between Mayfield and Jackson and a much bigger gap between Darnold and Allen. Basically the difference between Rosen and Mayfield comes down to preference, they both do so many things well and they both (as does every player in every draft) have some potential flaws but what do you value most?
Both Rosen and Mayfield has the confidence and personality to not only handle playing in the New York market, but to thrive in it, they’re both cocky to the point of being labeled arrogant but arrogance shouldn’t bother you in a quarterback. You should want an arrogant quarterback as long as that quarterback is willing to put the work in to backup his arrogance. What you don’t want is someone so arrogant that they think they don’t need to work as hard, that will not be a problem with either of these two players so forget that criticism. Both quarterbacks will say things that will become headlines (who cares), but they both also have the ability to create positive headlines on the field.
The media noise will always be there, believe me we will always find something, but if they produce on the field none of that noise will matter.
Rosen has been labeled as outspoken, which I actually think is unfair. To me outspoken is someone who goes out of their way to give you their opinion on anything and everything. Rosen doesn’t go out of his way to do that, he just doesn’t go out of his way to not give his honest opinion. In other words, he’s honest. He’s going to tell you what he thinks or how he feels, he knows how the game between players and the media is played but he’s simply not here for it. Some think this is a bad thing, they want players (especially quarterback) to be emotionless robots who just spit out scripted talking points. I think it’s better for the player to simply be comfortable with who they are and speaking their mind.
Mayfield is much more in your face than Rosen. Mayfield will go out of his way to let you know how he feels and that will certainly rub people the wrong way, but it won’t get in the way of his play. It’s meaningless and has nothing to do with football, you don’t need a quarterback that you’d want as your best friend, you need a quarterback that can throw the football well, read NFL defenses, avoid big mistakes and win you football games. The rest is just window dressing and nonsense, focus on what matters and that’s how good are they at football? The answer is they are both really good and I believe they will both be Pro Bowl caliber quarterbacks.
They both have strong enough arms (not as strong as Josh Allen but they are much more accurate and can throw with touch), they can both read defenses and make plays beyond their first read, they are both very intelligent, can move around the pocket well (Rosen gets knocked for his lack of mobility and yeah, he won’t do much scrambling but his movement inside the pocket is really good), both have good footwork and they are both leaders.
Rosen is 6’4″, Mayfield is just over 6′. It’s understandable if you prefer the 6’4″ quarterback, but quarterbacks don’t actually look over their offensive line anyway, they look between the gaps and Mayfield’s entire offensive line at Oklahoma was over 6’3″ and he did just fine looking behind that line. Rosen has some durability concerns, but honestly everyone does. Andrew Luck had no durability concerns but after years of getting demolished behind the Colts makeshift offensive line we see what happened. UCLA’s offense outside of Rosen was not good and while they had a left tackle (Kolton Miller) that could be a first-round pick, the rest of the line was a mess and Rosen was constantly getting hit. If he has to play behind a bad offensive line then yeah, I’m concerned about his durability but I’d be concerned about anyone’s durability playing behind a bad offensive line.
Is the chip on Mayfield’s shoulder too much? Do you think it could consume him? I see it driving him to get better and better, it’s why Tom Brady still talks about not being drafted until the sixth round, it’s why Michael Jordan still tells the lie of being cut from his high school team. Yeah, yeah Mayfield hasn’t proven his greatness yet so he hasn’t earned that right. Okay, cool story but Brady and Jordan didn’t develop that chip after they became great, they used that chip to drive them to greatness. Of course I’m not saying Mayfield will ever be as great as either of them, but to use that mentality against him is madness. We’ve seen that mentality succeed in sports again and again.
With Rosen people question his love for football. They say he has too many other interests and he’s from a rich family so how do we know he loves football? I don’t understand why having rich parents would mean someone would love football any less, in fact I would think that proves that he does in fact love football. He has options, he’s smart and comes from money. He doesn’t need football, he wants football. If he didn’t love football why would he play? Plenty of players in the NFL don’t love football, but they play it because of the money they can make, to question a kid’s love for football because his family is rich just seems backwards to me.
So which do you prefer? The 6’4″ smart guy with limited mobility outside the pocket who can make all the reads/throws but might have some durability concerns and might be a bit too honest at times? Or the 6′ smart guy with better mobility who can make all the reads/throws but played in a spread offense behind the best offensive line in college football last year (it’s fair to wonder about any BIG 12 quarterback and it’s fair to wonder how much of Mayfield’s success was tied to that offensive line, but when I watch him play, especially against Ohio State and Georgia, I see a quarterback that can thrive in the NFL)?
It comes down to preferences, when two players are graded so closely you just have to go with whoever you are most comfortable with. For me it’s Rosen, but I think Jets fans should be thrilled with either one.
So who do I think the pick will be? Well, I believe the Jets would love Darnold. If Darnold did somehow slip past the Browns and Giants I think Maccagnan would be doing cartwheels to turn the card in himself, but since I don’t see that happening I’m sticking with Rosen as the pick. Listening to the noise/smoke of the past week you’d certainly think Mayfield would be the pick but I think Maccagnan will stick with what he deems the safer pick (with just as high upside) and pick the prototype, Josh Rosen.
Chris Nimbley is the editor-in-chief of JetsInsider.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@cnimbley), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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