Jets’ chance to vanquish nearly five-decade QB curse is here
It’s here again, Jets fans: The NFL draft, otherwise known as Christmas in April.
You’ve been here before, of course. You recall the anticipation of a franchise-saving quarterback being drafted, how this draft is going to change everything, how the Jets finally are going to find a quarterback worthy of doing what Joe Namath did all those years ago — win a championship.
So Jets fans, who do you want when the team’s number is called Thursday night?
USC’s Sam Darnold? Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield? UCLA’s Josh Rosen? Wyoming’s Josh Allen?
Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan traded two second-round picks to the Colts to move from No. 6 overall to No. 3, so it’s obvious the Jets are locked in on one or two of the top quarterback prospects. Darnold and Mayfield are believed to be the two they covet most. In which order, we’re not certain.
The question is whether they’ll have a shot at either. That will depend on what the teams picking before them — the Browns at No. 1 and the Giants at No. 2 — do.
The more pressing question is this: Can the Jets break their quarterback curse?
In the last 20 years, 17 different quarterbacks have started for the Jets. This is the definition of a nomadic existence at the most important position in the sport. Only the Browns have been consistently more dysfunctional at quarterback.
Cue the dubious roll call from the last 20 seasons: Neil O’Donnell. Glenn Foley. Vinny Testaverde. Rick Mirer. Ray Lucas. Quincy Carter. Brooks Bollinger. Chad Pennington. Brett Favre. Kellen Clemens. Mark Sanchez. Greg McElroy. Michael Vick. Geno Smith. Ryan Fitzpatrick. Josh McCown. Bryce Petty.
Murderers’ Row this was not.
So now what?
Dating back to the Jets selecting Richard Todd with the sixth overall pick in 1976, the team has drafted a quarterback in either the first or second round seven times (four in the first round, three in the second) — ending in far more tease and torture for Jets fans (too much to count) than titles (none).
After Todd (42-51-1 as a starter, two playoff appearances, 2-2 in the playoffs) came Ken O’Brien in the 1983 first round (50-55-1, three playoff appearances, 0-3), then Browning Nagle in the 1991 second round (3-10 and no playoff appearance), then Chad Pennington in the 2000 first round (32-29, three playoff appearances, 2-3), then Sanchez out of the 2009 first round (33-29, two playoff appearances, 4-2), then Geno Smith out of the 2013 second round (11-18, no playoffs) and finally Christian Hackenberg out of the 2016 second round (he’s never played an NFL down).
Will the Jets finally get it right this time, after all these years of falling short?
Based on there being no clear-cut top choice among the presumed top four prospects, it makes this crop a bit of a crapshoot for quarterback-desperate teams like the Jets. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that opinions among the legions of draft experts vary wildly.
Former Giants quarterback Phil Simms, for example, is bullish on Allen. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay strongly believes Darnold is the best of the group. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock likes Mayfield and Allen equally, though isn’t sold on any of the four. Former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Tim Hasselbeck has a conviction about Rosen.
“When teams draft a quarterback, they’re betting on the guy as much as they are betting on the talent,’’ Hasselbeck told The Post. “As a disclaimer, I’ve never sat across from Josh Rosen or Baker and all those guys and been able to ask them questions. But watching their film, I don’t think that it’s much of a conversation as to who the best prospect is. It’s Josh Rosen.
“Josh Rosen is the most ready to be a good NFL quarterback. You can tell how smart he is. As a passer, he’d come in and start right away, there’s no doubt about it. Now, the concerns about him are whatever — he likes to go sailing and do this or that and people question if he likes football. I don’t know anything about that. All I can tell you is that when you watch him play, he looks like a guy that can have a 10-year career playing starting quarterback, plain and simple.’’
This, of course, is what the Jets have been seeking for nearly 50 years. Will they finally find it Thursday night?
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