ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky caught attention last month when he said online that he would take Jets quarterback Sam Darnold if he chose any of the selected quarterbacks for 2018-20.
That means yes, he would take Darnold over Lamar Jackson, who won the league MVP last year with the Ravens. Although Darnold has been inconsistent and has not shown that he is an elite NFL starter, Orlovsky believes Darnold has been a victim of being on a bad team.
“I love Lamar Jackson,” Orlovsky, who played 13 seasons in the NFL, recently told The Post. “He’s a superstar, but if you want to say that if Sam Darnold were on a team with a top-five game and some pretty good players and a scheme that was absolutely perfect for him and a defense in the top five, we wouldn’t think about He differently? We’re in a team where not 20 years ago, when quarterbacks improve all these other guys. The other guys improve the quarterback because of the time and space of football and the fighting.
“If I had to carry a guy in the last three draft classes for the next 10 years, it would still be Sam.”
Darnold is entering his third season with many questions still surrounding him. He has thrown 36 touchdowns and 28 interceptions in his 26 games. It has shown glimpses of being special, but has not yet achieved sustained success. Darnold turns 23 on Friday, so he is still very young. Orlovsky argues that we still have no idea what Darnold can be.
“Anyone who sits there and says they can do an evaluation of Sam Darnold, how?” Orlovsky said. “Tell me how. How can you sit there and honestly tell me that you can evaluate him for what he is or what he will become? He has been playing with one hand tied behind his back for an extended period of time.”
Orlovsky is not the only analyst hoping for better things from Darnold in 2020. Chris Simms, who now works for NBC after eight years as an NFL quarterback, saw Darnold’s progress last season.
“I’m really excited about Sam,” said Simms. “After weathering the storm last year, you can see what kind of player Sam is. It is phenomenal in your pocket. It is one of the best to move around in your pocket and deliver the ball from uncomfortable deliveries. It has a great way to jump and find a fold to launch. He is a terrific quarterback from short to intermediate passes. I thought last year he really took big steps with his deep ball and pushing the ball down the field. “
Boomer Esiason, who was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1988, sees this as a critical year for Darnold and third-year quarterback Josh Allen of the Bills.
“It’s where balance meets capacity,” said Esiason, who is now hosting WFAN and an analyst at CBS. “When that comes to all of us, anyone who has started more than 100 games in the NFL can tell you exactly when the seminal moment came when we all began to understand what we had to do to become the players we ended up becoming.” . I would suggest that both players, Allen and Darnold, are at that intersection where their balance must meet their ability. They just need to be refined. “
Esiason said Darnold has played “frantically” and needs to slow down his game.
“I just want to see Sam play like 12 games in a row. I don’t want to see any interruption, “Esiason said.” I want to see how he improves in the middle of the season until the end of the season. He did it in two seasons where he improved at the end of the year. But, man, he really had trouble get out the door. ”
Orlovsky believes the Jets are now headed in the right direction and Darnold could show what he can do. He praised the Jets’ selection of tackle Mekhi Becton in the first round of the draft.
“I said that Jets fans would know what their future would be like for the eleventh team,” Orlovsky said. “I said if those attractive receivers fell to the eleventh pick and Joe Douglas kept one, it would bother me if I was a Jets fan.” As attractive and sexy as they are, it was not the right choice. The correct choice was to make the offensive line the priority 10 times. I hope the Jets and Sam and their fans have a tendency that their general manager is starting to understand him and solidify what’s around Sam. I hope he is in a good situation in the future. “