#jetsmail You've seen a lot of QBs come and go in your many years of covering the Jets - based on what you observed in OTAs and via pre-draft process, where does Darnold rank in terms of pure physical skills with prior Jets QBs?— CaptainDarnold (@superjets2019) June 8, 2018
@RichCimini: This is a great question, Captain, because you're right: I've seen many quarterbacks during my 29 years on the beat. My exposure to Darnold has been limited, so it's impossible to draw any conclusions, but let's have some fun and break it down into different categories:
Arm strength: Vinny Testaverde tops my list. Bill Parcells used to say Testaverde's arm was so strong that he'd be able to throw NFL-caliber passes at the age of 50. He's 54 now, and I bet he can still sling it. Darnold has a very good arm, but it's not in the Testaverde category.
Accuracy: Chad Pennington (66 percent) has the second-highest completion mark in NFL history, so I guess this is a no-brainer. I think Darnold has the potential to be in the mid-60s, especially if he plays his career in a West Coast-style offense. He was a 65 percent passer at USC, displaying the innate ability to anticipate and fit the ball into small windows.
Mobility: I'm not counting Michael Vick because he barely played for the Jets. Statistically, Geno Smith is the most mobile quarterback I've covered. Darnold is an underrated athlete who will make more plays with his feet than people expect. Will he be a dangerous runner? No, but he moves well enough to get out of trouble and make plays. He can throw on the run -- one of his strengths -- and execute a read-option package.
Pocket presence: This isn't a physical skill, per se, but it's an important part of the package. Brett Favre was masterful, even at an advanced age, because he had a great feel for the pass rush and could make plays off script. He drove the coaches crazy sometimes because he did too much ad-libbing, but that's another story. Darnold has some of that Favre-gunslinger mentality, based on how he played last season, and it resulted in too many turnovers. He must do a better job of understanding risk-reward, and that will happen over time.
In conclusion, let me say this: I think Darnold has a more complete skill set than any of his recent predecessors. Now it's a matter of making it happen.
@RichCimini: No, I don't see that happening, Brooklyn. Here's why: If Teddy Bridgewater is the opening-day starter for the Jets in Detroit, it makes sense to have an experienced and capable quarterback such as McCown as the No. 2. A Bridgewater-McCown tandem gives them a better chance than Bridgewater-Darnold to win that game. I don't think it's even up for debate. It would be a tall order for a rookie to come off the bench in Week 1, especially in a prime-time game.
I could see coach Todd Bowles sticking with Bridgewater-McCown (or McCown-Bridgewater) until Darnold is ready to play. At that point, he can make the jump from No. 3 to No. 1.
Who do you see making a name for themselves at OLB? #jetsmail— T Shirt Melo (@Cleber__A) June 8, 2018
@RichCimini: Ha! Great question, Melo. The answer is no one. I mean, Jordan Jenkins is a competent strongside run defender, assuming his shoulder is healed, but he's not going to put up splashy sack numbers. That's not who he is. Unfortunately for the Jets, they don't have any outside linebackers with track records as pass-rushers. It's the weakest position on the team.
They're still looking for a pass-rusher even though general manager Mike Maccagnan has invested a fair amount of draft capital -- third-round picks on Jenkins and Lorenzo Mauldin and a fifth-rounder on Dylan Donahue. David Bass, whom they plucked off the scrap heap recently (again), is getting first-team reps in practice. What does that tell you? I will say this: Brandon Copeland, a free-agent pickup from the Detroit Lions, made a few plays in practice last week. Maybe he can surprise everyone.