Amid rumors that the New York Jets could be parting ways with Sam Darnold and using their No. 2 overall pick on another quarterback such as Ohio State’s Justin Fields, draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. opined that the team should stick it out with the former third overall selection as he enters his fourth season in the NFL.
As quoted by 247Sports, Kiper appeared on Tuesday morning’s edition of ESPN’s Get Up, where he discussed the Jets’ situation with host Mike Greenberg. The analyst recalled that he placed Darnold right behind Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills in his 2018 pre-draft rankings for quarterbacks. Even with Fields’ strong performances in recent days taken into consideration, Kiper added that the Buckeyes star might not be rated as highly as Darnold was when it comes to this year’s quarterback board.
Kiper went on to suggest that instead of using the No. 2 pick on Fields, the Jets should draft someone like Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell, who could team up with Mekhi Becton to give New York “two of the best bookend tackles in the league” as they provide ample protection for Darnold. Alternately, he speculated that the Cincinnati Bengals — who will be picking fifth — could trade up with the Jets to take Sewell and beef up their offensive line.
“So, no, I would not take Justin Fields at two if I’m the Jets,” Kiper told Greenberg. “I would either trade down or take the offensive tackle and move forward — like I said, Greeny — with Sam Darnold.”
As shown on his Pro Football Reference player page, Darnold struggled in 12 starts this season, following a 2019 campaign where he made some noticeable improvements on the field and on the stat sheet. The 23-year-old threw only nine touchdowns and w intercepted 11 times, accumulating just 2,208 passing yards and finishing the year with a QB rating of 72.7. This marked a significant decline from his QB rating of 84.3 in 2019.
As for Fields, the Ohio State junior is currently enjoying a productive season for the Buckeyes, having completed 141 of his 192 passes for a 73.4 percent completion rate and 1,906 yards. So far, he has tallied 21 passing touchdowns and six interceptions, with five rushing touchdowns on the ground.
As reported by The Inquisitr, ESPN’s Adam Schefter recently tweeted that per his sources, the Jets are “expected to make a big trade” in the 2021 offseason and may either move Darnold or opt to send the No. 2 selection to a club that plans to choose a quarterback. It remains unclear, however, which path the team may take following the recent firing of head coach Adam Gase.