NFL Draft 2018 – New York Jets Smokescreen Navigation

Joe Caporoso on navigating the smokescreens around the New York Jets intentions with the third overall pick

It has been exactly one month since the New York Jets traded three second round picks to move from #6 to #3 in the 2018 NFL Draft. As it stands today, the conventional wisdom appears to be the team will select Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield with the third overall pick, yet this is a new development. Let’s track coverage of the Jets intentions over the past month and see what expectations should be when April 26th FINALLY rolls around.

Shortly after the Jets trade was made, the names most associated with them were Josh Allen and Josh Rosen. Here is Rich Cimini, the team’s longest tenured beat writer on the day of the move.

I believe the Jets’ top three are Sam DarnoldJosh Allen and Josh Rosen, in no particular order. That’s based on conversations with personnel people around the league. The early sense is that the Jets don’t rate Baker Mayfield in that upper-echelon category.

Matt Miller’s first mock draft after the trade had the Jets selecting Josh Allen. The first guesses post trade from Benjamin Allbright were either Allen or Rosen.

Nobody has covered Baker Mayfield more closely than Robert Klemko of MMQB throughout this draft process. Prior to the trade, this is how he ranked Mayfield’s most likely landing spots:

It is worth noting, he had Miami higher than the Jets despite them picking 5 spots behind them. Eric Galko’s first mock draft after the trade did have the Jets selecting Mayfield, while Bucky Brooks first post trade mock paired the Jets with Rosen.

I ran this poll 10 days after the trade on Jets fans preference for the pick, which had Rosen come out on top by 18 percentage points.

Moving away from the speculation and to things that actually occurred, the Jets attended Rosen’s Pro Day on March 15th, one day after attending Mayfield’s Pro Day on March 14th, shortly before they pulled the trigger on the trade. They also attended Sam Darold’s Pro Day on March 21st and Allen’s Pro Day on March 24th. All of this is logical due diligence. Similarly, the Jets held private workouts for Rosen, Mayfield and Allen. They’ve had Rosen and Mayfield at Florham Park for visits already with ones upcoming for both Allen and Darnold.

Despite this consistency across the board with the top four quarterbacks, the Jets hosting Mayfield for a two day visit on April 9th, seemed to pivot the amount of speculation around their interest in him. The reason for this could because of Adam Schefter tweeting this (even though it is fair to assume Johnson also met with Rosen and will meet with Allen/Darnold):

Shortly after his visit wrapped, Klemko and Allbright tweeted this:

From there, Cimini’s latest pick has pivoted to Mayfield, Brooks has pivoted to Darnold, Miller has stayed with Allen, and Galko has stayed with Mayfield. The latest from Albert Breer has the Jets with Darnold, while King is leaning towards Mayfield.

Elsewhere around the Jets beat, Manish Mehta is going with Mayfield and elsewhere in national coverage, Dane Brugler has the Jets taking Rosen. This recent round up published by the Jets site has five different mocks with four different players being selected across them.

I ran a similar poll to the one linked above and the numbers have flipped, with Jets fans now preferring Mayfield by 19 percentage points:

At a high level, it appears there was a slight surge of Mayfield to the Jets chatter after his visit to Florham Park (not uncommon after a player visit, as his management likely left with a positive impression) but there is still a high variance on who is being rumored to the Jets. Courtesy of Klemko’s confidence in Mayfield to the Jets, it appears at least his side feels the Jets won’t pass on him with that being corroborated by Allbright (whether that comes from the Jets or Mayfield’s side is unknown). Adam Schefter tweeting about Christopher Johnson and Mayfield likely has also had an impact on perception. Yet, it is worth noting the Jets haven’t done anything out of the ordinary in the pre-draft process that they have not done with the other top three quarterbacks, as it pertains to Mayfield.

Mayfield was always a strong possibility for the Jets at both number six and now at number three. It is hard to say he is an ironclad favorite, particularly with it still being so much up in the air who will go first and second overall. Jets fans may be being a bit naive by completely writing off the possibility of Josh Allen being the pick (unfortunately) and may be writing off Rosen or even Darnold too early.

The good news for the Jets is that it is hard to go wrong with three of their four options.

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Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the VP of Social Media at Whistle Sports