Sam Darnold, QB, Jets
Let’s take a step back and take a 10,000-foot view of Darnold.
He threw for over 3,000 yards and 31 TDs in his starting debut as a redshirt freshman in 2016 at USC. He climbed to 4,143 yards — tops in the Pac-12 — in 2017 and was then the 3rd overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Last year, Darnold became the youngest starting QB in NFL history at 21 years old. He had an up-and-down rookie campaign but finished strong with 931 yards, 6 TDs and 1 INT on a 64% completion rate and 7.5 yards per attempt over the final 4 games.
Darnold has looked poised to take another step forward this preseason, completing 68% of his passes and averaging 8.4 yards per attempt. He’s displayed nice accuracy, pocket presence and mobility.
Simply put, Darnold looks like a hit for the Jets. And if we expect him to emerge as an upper-echelon NFL QB, we should expect a big statistical jump in his 2nd season.
He’ll be helped by a sneaky-strong group of weapons in WRs Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder and Quincy Enunwa, TE Chris Herndon (after his 4-game suspension) and a couple of pass-catching threats in RBs Le’Veon Bell and Ty Montgomery.
Note that Darnold opens with a tough matchup vs. the Bills. But he might be a streaming option in Weeks 2 and 3 in games against the Browns and Patriots that figure to find the Jets playing from behind.