Michael Lombardi: Jets' draft hinges on 'putting a grade on Sam Darnold and acting accordingly'


The New York Jets hold the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft as of now, and it seems that Deshaun Watson rumors have died down – but where does that leave Gang Green at QB?

The possibility of Sam Darnold getting a fourth year under center for the Jets seems more likely by the day, and in an appearance with Moose & Maggie on Tuesday, former NFL exec Michael Lombardi had some advice for GM Joe Douglas.

“I think what you do is you put Sam in this draft, and ask yourself: is Sam is better than Justin Fields or Zach Wilson? He’s not newer, but is he better? Because newer doesn’t mean it solves the problem,” Lombardi said. “If you’re Joe Douglas, you have to ask yourself what’s the long-range plan for Sam, what the grade is on him, and where you think he can be. If you think Zach Wilson is better than Sam Darnold, you draft him, and if not, you have to figure out what you want to do.”

What the Jets might want to do is build the offensive line first, because Lombardi noted that the Super Bowl proved how important that is no matter what.

“Would they be better off holding Sam and drafting the tackle out of Oregon (Penei Sewell), and having two dominant tackles to determine how they run and pass protect?” Lombardi asked. “That makes a big difference – just ask Kansas City. One thing we learned from the Super Bowl is that it doesn’t matter how great your quarterback is, or how great your wide receivers are; if you can’t block, it doesn’t matter, and if you can’t pass protect, you can’t get the ball off. Just go back and put the Super Bowl game on and understand what’s truly important: Blocking and rushing the quarterback.”

Many mock drafts will have wide receivers making up at least half of the Top 10, but Lombardi reminds Douglas of the above as he weighs his decision.

“If I were Joe, that’d be weighing on my mind, because you also have a young team around Darnold,” Lombardi said. “You have to put a grade on him, then put your trust in it and act accordingly, building your team around that.”

That brought about a question about resetting the rookie salary scale, but while Lombardi warned that money is just a number, doing something like trading the farm for Deshaun Watson or overpaying for a new toy doesn’t guarantee any room for other toys in the box.

“It takes more than one player. This is what’s going on in Dallas – if they want to have Dak Prescott have a $39 million cap number and take the franchise tag, just watch the Vikings and see what happened with Kirk Cousins,” Lombardi said. “You can have all the money, but you have to work with me so we can spread it out and have a good team around you. If you take a huge cap number, there won’t be a good team around you and we won’t win anything, so what’s the point?”

Check out Lombardi’s entire appearance on Moose & Maggie below!

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