At first glance, Sam Darnold and Tony Romo don't have much in common in terms of background. We're talking about two quarterbacks who took dramatically different paths to the NFL.
Romo grew up in the Midwest and went the small-school, undrafted route. Darnold was raised in a Southern California beach town, played at USC and was the third overall pick in last month's draft.
As for their playing styles ... well, that's where there's a resemblance, according to former Dallas Cowboys star tight end Jason Witten. The newly hired Monday Night Football analyst believes Darnold was the best quarterback in the draft and landed in a great situation with the New York Jets.
"He's calm, he's got this poise. He reminds me a little bit of Tony Romo, the way he creates plays," Witten said Thursday on ESPN's Get Up! morning show. "He has some of that moxie."
At USC, Darnold was known for making plays "off script," as scouts like to say. The Jets liked that aspect of his game so much that CEO Christopher Johnson, in an interview last week, said of Darnold, "When it all goes to hell, he can throw across his body. He can throw when his feet are in the wrong place. He can do a lot of things that are hard to teach."
Romo, too, had that flair for improvisation, and it served him well in 10 seasons as the Cowboys' starter. Witten was there for it all. He also was there when Jets coach Todd Bowles was the Dallas secondary coach. He said Bowles and Darnold will be a good marriage.
"He's going to get his defense right; he's a clear communicator and he's not worried about ruffling any feathers," Witten said of Bowles. "I think Darnold steps in and is a star before we know it."
The Jets say Darnold will get every opportunity to win the starting job in training camp. The first official practice is Tuesday.