Jets' Maccagnan: We Want Sam Darnold To First Prove He's Ready To Start

Sam Darnold
Photo credit USA TODAY Images

The Jets have their quarterback of the future on the roster. But when will the future begin exactly?

In an interview with WFAN's "Boomer & Gio" on Tuesday, Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan said first-round draft pick Sam Darnold will have to earn a starting job but he'll also be given plenty of opportunities to prove himself. 

"We're going to throw him into the process," Maccagnan said. "We'll give him a lot of opportunities, and like every other player on the team, he's going to have to go out there and take advantage and earn that. But we have a plan for Sam in terms of how much we're going to get him up to speed. 

"Our thought process is not necessarily to just throw him in there when he's not ready, but we're going to throw everything at him to give him the ability to go in there and earn that position and see how quickly he comes along. I think that will play itself out over the practices through the offseason in terms of the opportunities. He's going to get an ample number of opportunities to go earn that spot."

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The Jets selected the former USC quarterback with the third overall pick in last week's draft. But Gang Green has a crowded quarterback room that also includes last year's starter, Josh McCown; former Vikings starter Teddy Bridgewater; Bryce Petty; and Christian Hackenberg.

Maccagnan said in the days and weeks leading up to the draft, he believed Darnold would likely be the top pick. But then Thursday morning, he began to hear the rumors that the Cleveland Browns had settled on Baker Mayfield.

"We always knew there was a possibility (Darnold could fall)," Maccagnan said. "It really depends on how it shook out. And I think I've actually mentioned this to people before: Every draft I've been involved with, everybody thinks things are going to fall a certain way -- and to a certain degree, sometimes they do -- but there's always surprises.

"As we got into it, then you start realizing, 'OK, this may actually happen.' But in your head, you're still thinking, 'All right, it's probably another smokescreen, and they're going to turn around and draft somebody else, probably Sam.'"

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Taking Darnold was an easy call, Maccagnan said. 

"We felt really good about having Sam being there for us and have us be able to make that decision," he said. "Yeah, that was kind of a good feeling. It felt very similar, quite frankly, to how it was with Leo (Leonard Williams) and Jamal (Adams) at the top of the draft, both players we liked and they sort of, the way it worked out, they kind of fell to us, and we felt very comfortable taking them there."