LOS ANGELES -- A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:
General manager Mike Maccagnan, vice president of personnel Brian Heimerdinger and area scout Brian Shields were among 30 NFL types at the USC-UCLA rivalry game. Unofficially, the Jets and Cleveland Browns had the most representatives among the 20 teams in attendance.
Read into that what you choose. Clearly, the Jets are in the market for a quarterback; Darnold and Rosen could be top-five picks if they declare for the draft.
A couple of takeaways on Maccagnan: He's a copious note-taker. During the pregame warm-ups, he jotted observations into a notebook as he watched from the sideline. His peers were there, too, but I didn't see any others taking notes. (For what it's worth, he spent most of the time on the UCLA side.)
Maccagnan was all business. He chatted briefly on the field with New York Giants GM Jerry Reese, but that was the extent of his socializing.
Interestingly, Maccagnan didn't watch the game from the press box. He watched from the stands, behind one of the benches. Some evaluators prefer that perspective because it puts them closer to the action. It allows them to observe nuances they can't see from high above or later on a game tape -- i.e., how players interact with teammates on the bench. (For the Giants fans: Reese stayed in the press box.)
As for the two quarterbacks, Rosen outplayed Darnold, impressing scouts with his arm talent. Both players made a couple of crucial errors in scoring territory, but they also made NFL-caliber plays in USC's 28-23 victory.
2. Assessing the free agents-to-be: The Jets have five starters eligible for free agency, plus a couple of key backups. In other words, Maccagnan has some work to do. Here's how I'd rank them:
MLB Demario Davis: He hasn't garnered much attention, but Davis is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season. He rededicated himself in the offseason, and you can see the difference in his play. He's the quarterback of the defense, and it would be wise to re-sign him. He'll be 29 next season, so the Jets have to be careful with the amount of guaranteed money. If they are smart, they will get it done sooner rather than later.
QB Josh McCown: This is a tricky one. He'd be the ideal mentor/bridge if they use a high pick on a quarterback (where have we heard that before?), but he could get squeezed out if they make a play for one of the top free agents. How they handle McCown, 38, will reveal a lot about their offseason plan. From all indications, he wants to continue playing.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins: He feels indebted to the Jets because they pulled him off the scrap heap, but business is business. Come free agency, he'll be looking for the best deal. He's probably looking at an average salary of $6 million to $7 million per year, including a guarantee in the $9 million to $10 million range. I'm basing that off 2017 deals for Dion Sims, Jack Doyle and C.J. Fiedorowicz. Seferian-Jenkins is a player you want to bring back because the Jets' other pass-catching tight end, rookie Jordan Leggett, will be starting from square one after knee surgery.
CB Morris Claiborne: He plays at an above-average level, but you have to proceed with caution because he won't be there for 16 games. The ideal situation would be another one-year contract.
DE Kony Ealy: He was a nice waiver-wire addition, but do you want to make a long-term commitment? Probably not. No one disputes Ealy's talent -- he's a pass-swatting machine -- but he tends to play outside the structure of the defense. He's another player you'd like to have back on a one-year deal.
C Wesley Johnson: The Jets will look for an upgrade at center. Johnson has value as a backup, and it helps that he can play guard, too.
PK Chandler Catanzaro: Sure, why not?
WR Jeremy Kerley: It was a good move to bring him back, but it's time to create opportunities for the younger receivers.
3. Heads of the class: Rookies usually are evaluated based on the obvious statistics at their respective positions, but I believe there's value in a not-so-obvious stat: playing time. If a rookie is on the field a lot, it speaks to what his coaches think about him.
The next three are Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White (586), Minnesota Vikings center Pat Elflein (585) and New Orleans Saints tackle Ryan Ramczyk (584). They've played one fewer game than Maye and Adams, so it'll probably be close to even after this weekend. But it's still worth a tip of the cap to the pair of Jets rookies.
4. Where are you, Mr. Robinson? The Jets traded a fifth-round pick for cornerback Rashard Robinson and they have yet to use him on defense. Two games, zero snaps. It's not as though they're overflowing with talented corners.
"He has to learn the scheme," coach Todd Bowles said. "As a defensive back, there’s a lot of things to learn, mentally. You can’t just come in and play. There’s a lot that goes with it, and with him just getting here, he has to be in the system for a little bit before he gets on the field."
Robinson played in a man-to-man scheme last season as a rookie with the San Francisco 49ers, but everything changed this year -- scheme, coaching staff, etc. -- and he fell out of favor. The Jets liked him in the 2016 draft (they hosted him on a pre-draft visit), but they wound up taking cornerback Juston Burris in the fourth round, 15 spots ahead of Robinson.
Burris has become a liability because of his tackling, and it wouldn't surprise me if Robinson soon moves ahead of Burris as the No. 4 corner. It'll smell fishy if Robinson continues to ride the bench.
5. Westy's back: If there were a Hall of Fame for assistant coaches, Mike Westhoff would be in it. He accomplished just about everything as a pioneering special-teams coach, but one honor eluded him: a Super Bowl ring. He could get that ring now that he's back in the game as the new special-teams coach for the red-hot Saints.
Westhoff, 69, is proof you can never say "never." After five years of working in the media and shark fishing near his home on the Gulf Coast of Florida, the former Jets assistant came out of retirement when the Saints reached out eight days ago. It'll be fun to watch his impact on the Saints, and it'll be really fun when the Saints and Jets meet Dec. 17 in New Orleans.
Here's hoping he finds that holy grail in the Big Easy.