Sam Darnold Still has a Chance in New York Thanks to the Jets’ No. 2 Pick

The New York Jets have become the laughing stock of the NFL. They have been awful, from how they haven’t developed Sam Darnold to Adam Gases’ offensive ineptitude. The lack of achievement continued in 2020, as the Jets finished with the second-worst record in the NFL.

They have the second overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft. There are multiple things New York can do with the No. 2 pick. They can trade it for more draft capital or use the pick to satisfy multiple needs they have on their team. As much as the Jets mess things up, there is no way they can screw up their first-round draft pick. 

The Jets missed out on the No. 1 overall pick

Getting the second overall pick in the upcoming draft is a consolation prize for the Jets. They were on track to get the No. 1 pick late in the season. New York was 0-13, ahead of the Jacksonville Jaguars by one game for the first overall pick. If the Jets finished the season 0-16, the first pick was theirs.

That didn’t happen, as New York won their games against the Los Angeles Rams and Cleveland Browns. They finished the season with a 2-14 record, knocking themselves out of the running for the No. 1 pick. The Jaguars received the first pick after finishing 1-15. Trevor Lawrence is projected to be the first player off the board. He is a generational talent at quarterback, showing his potential during his three years at Clemson. 

It looks like the Jets will miss out on the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes. That means New York will shift their focus to the quarterback currently on their roster, Sam Darnold. Darnold has shown flashes of what he can do but hasn’t put everything together. This could be because the Jets have failed to put talent around him so he can be successful.

The good news for Darnold is that the No. 2 overall pick the Jets have could be used to help him. New York can show they are invested in Darnold and his future with them by using this No. 2 overall pick correctly. If New York wants to make the safe pick, they can draft some much-needed protection for Sam Darnold.

The Jets can protect Sam Darnold with No. 2 pick

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One glaring weakness the Jets have is on the offensive line. They were ranked as the third-worst O-line this season, per Pro Football Focus. Their line has been so bad that they turned Le’Veon Bell into a mediocre running back when he was with the team. Sam Darnold has also been a victim of the O-lines’ struggles. He was the eight-most sacked quarterback of 2020, being brought to the ground 35 times, per ESPN.

The Jets made a step in the right direction, fixing their offensive line. Last year’s first-round pick Mehki Becton played pretty well during his rookie season. He battled through some injuries but showed his athleticism for a player his size. He was the only bright spot, as the Jets allowed 1.1 yards a carry before contact. They also allowed pressure in 2.5 seconds or less on 28 percent of their dropbacks, worst in the NFL.

The Jets can add more youth and protection on their line if they draft Penei Sewell with the second overall pick. Sewell is a tackle from Oregon and is rated as the second-best prospect in the 2021 draft class, per ESPN. He won the Outland Trophy and was a unanimous first-team All American in 2018. He opted out of the 2020 season, taking the time to prepare for the draft. 

Drafting Sewell will give the Jets a strong foundation at both tackle spots. That will be crucial for protecting Sam Darnold. New York has to address the struggles on the line, and drafting Sewell is the perfect way for them to do it. If New York doesn’t want to go the route of protecting Darnold, they can give him a weapon at the receiver position.

New York can give Sam Darnold a weapon with the No. 2 pick

The New York Jets offense has been abysmal for a couple of seasons now. Darnold does hold some blame here, but the absence of production from the receiving corps can’t be overlooked. 

The Jets averaged 194.7 receiving yards a game last season, second-worst in the league. per ESPN. No receiver on the Jets roster caught more than 60 passes or had more than 750 yards receiving.

The NFL is a passing league now, so those porous receiving numbers aren’t going to get the Jets many wins. Darnold needs a top tier receiver he can trust to make big plays. New York drafted Denzel Mims last year, but he dealt with injuries his rookie year. Outside of Mims, New York doesn’t have any promising talent at receiver.

The Jets could give Darnold a lethal weapon in the passing game by drafting DeVonta Smith. Smith lit up the college football landscape this season, capturing the Heisman Trophy for his phenomenal year. He has everything the Jets could want in a receiver: speed, hands, footwork, and humble attitude. If the Jets grab the Alabama receiver, they could have a potential superstar duo on their hands.

The New York Jets are in a win-win situation with the No. 2 overall pick. They could offer Sam Darnold some protection or give him an extraordinary talent at receiver. After many thought Darnold would be on his way out the door, the Jets can show their commitment to him by investing their second overall pick into him and his future.

All stats courtesy of ESPN