During the offseason, I’ll be looking back at certain aspects of the Jets’ season by analyzing data compiled from all nineteen games, rather than watching film. I will be tackling as many diverse topics as possible, but welcome your suggestions or requests in the comments.

This week, I am going to look at the screen pass. A staple of the Chad Pennington/Vinny Testaverde eras, the screen pass is a weapon which many Jets fans feel should be used more. Some state that the Jets don't use it enough, but is that accurate? Others have said that the Jets are incapable of running this play, but does that come down to coaching, execution or personnel?

After the jump, I look at the data from the past three seasons to try and determine how successful the Jets have been in running this play compared with other teams and if there are any obvious trends linked to the personnel changes over the past couple of years.

Once again, I have used data provided by ProFootballFocus.com in researching this article and we thank them for providing us with exclusive access.

Note: In defining a "screen pass" I have used any pass where the ball was thrown to a receiver behind the line of scrimmage. Although this may eliminate some screen passes where the ball was caught beyond the line of scrimmage or where the pass travelled laterally and the play was therefore classified as a run, I consider these to be rare, so it is the simplest and most convenient way to ensure I am comparing equivalent data sets.

Why Do They "Never" Run a Screen Pass?

One common complaint is that the Jets never even tried to run a screen pass last season. Before we consider the reasons why this might be, is it justified? Let's look at some numbers from last year and compare how often teams threw screen passes when they did pass the ball. For simplicity, I will only consider the numbers for the main starting quarterback.

Jets - 8.1% of all throws were screen passes

Miami - 16.4%

Indianapolis - 11.1%

New England - 9.3%

Green Bay - 12.9%

Pittsburgh - 14.8%

Philadelphia - 15.7%

Buffalo - 12.9%

Detroit - 16.6%

Chicago - 10.8%

NY Giants - 13.0%

That's just a random sample of teams, but you can clearly see that the Jets threw less screen passes than any of them - significantly so, in some cases. You may be surprised to note that New England is the only other team that threw beyond the line of scrimmage over 90% of the time.

So, there does seem to be some truth to the complaint that the Jets don't run the screen pass as often as most other teams. What could be the reasons for this? Here are some suggestions. As always, we welcome your alternative theories in the comments.

1. Is it a strategic decision?

2. Is the quarterback incapable of running one successfully?

3. Are the receivers incapable of making the play work?

4. Are the blockers incapable of blocking capably on such plays?

5. Is the offensive co-ordinator incapable of running one successfully?

6. Has it been overlooked or forgotten in lieu of some other play?

Let's tackle these one at a time.

Strategic Decision?

A screen pass usually works best when the defense rushes the quarterback with several guys, leaving them outnumbered downfield by potential blockers. Early in the season, teams started approaching the Jets by dropping linebackers into coverage and flooding short to intermediate routes. The result of this is that the screen pass may not have been effective, because you are simply throwing a pass underneath and several would-be tacklers will have a chance to keep the play in front of them. This was a common tactic employed by opposing defenses, so it may have been a conscious decision to run fewer screen passes based on the assumption that it would not be a high-percentage play.

The Jets wouldn't be the first team to decide that running a screen pass was a low percentage play and remove it from their gameplan. After their loss to the Jets in Week Two of 2009, Bill Belichick was asked why he didn't counter the Jets pressure by running screen passes and he admitted that this would be a low-percentage and risky option because the Jets man-blitzes often accounted for the back out of the backfield. This underscores the fact that sometimes, the screen pass is an option that might not work and the fact this comes from another team that don't run very many is perhaps thought-provoking.

It's certainly possible that the Jets ran fewer screen passes than everybody else because they didn't think the play was likely to work, but that may not necessarily have been for strategic reasons.

Can Mark Sanchez Execute a Screen Pass?

The decision not to use the screen pass much may instead be born of a lack of confidence in Mark Sanchez' ability to execute the play. We'll get to exactly how successful the screen passes the Jets did run in 2010 were in due course, but the decision to not run many may simply reflect what critics of Sanchez have been saying since he was drafted. His accuracy is not very good.

Pinpoint accuracy is vitally important when throwing the screen pass. The most accurate quarterback in NFL history (in terms of completion percentage) is former Jet Chad Pennington and Jets fans will remember how successful he was in the short passing game because his receivers were able to catch the ball without breaking stride. If you throw slightly behind a receiver, or force them to stretch for the ball, they can lose all upfield momentum and the timing of the play is thrown off. If Brian Schottenheimer lacked confidence in his ability to make the throw accurately, then he might have considered a different pass to be a higher percentage option.

Do They Have the Receivers to Make a Screen Pass Work?

Receiving personnel is another key consideration. While Testaverde and Pennington had guys like Curtis Martin and Richie Anderson to dump the ball off to, the Jets lacked that type of player once Leon Washington went down in 2009. With the arrival of LaDainian Tomlinson in 2010, the Jets were better equipped to throw screen passes, but the loss of Washington removed a dynamic playmaking option from the equation.

Also, when the Jets replaced small, quick, receivers such as Chansi Stuckey, Laveranues Coles and David Clowney with the likes of Braylon Edwards and Patrick Turner, they again lost some of the shiftiness and acceleration that lends itself to a successful screen play.

Can They Block a Screen Pass Effectively?

Although the Jets made a conscious decision to beef up the offensive line by moving on from Alan Faneca and replacing him with Matt Slauson, they still have plenty of downfield blocking ability. Nick Mangold has always excelled at getting out in front and D'Brickashaw Ferguson has also made tremendous progress in that area. Slauson and Brandon Moore might not be as athletic as Faneca was at his peak, but they are no slouches, and - despite what their rankings say - the Jets have some capable blockers at the wide receiver position.

Although the Jets had many screen passes that failed to work this season, an inaccurately thrown pass can prevent a screen pass from working even if the blocks are set up well. In fact, there were a number of occasions where the intended receiver appeared to have blockers out in front, only for the pass to fall incomplete.

Does the Offensive Co-Ordinator Know How to Design a Screen Pass?

Once again, we are thrust headlong into an Execution v Coaching debate. Any of the personnel issues listed above may or may not be the reason that the screen pass was often overlooked last season. Or are they just excuses? Fortunately, we can get some valuable insight from further research here, because Schottenheimer was also the offensive co-ordinator before many of the personnel changes took place. Will there be a marked improvement in the numbers from a few years ago, or is Schottenheimer the common denominator in the failure of Jets to run a screen pass effectively? Keep reading to find out.

Has the Screen Pass Been Forgotten?

The final question is whether the Jets reluctance to use the screen pass is a conscious decision or has it merely been overlooked because the Jets have so many weapons that they need/want to try and get involved. Maybe they haven't decided it won't work - whether that be because of the defensive alignment, or their inability to execute it well due to personnel or coaching - they've just stopped trying for whatever reason. This sounds plausible, but based on how successful the play was over the last couple of seasons, the alternative possibilities would appear more likely.

How Successful Were the Screens They DID Run?

Sanchez completed 81% of his screen passes, for just 4.0 yards per catch. Based on that, they might have been better off just running the ball, but those numbers are pretty meaningless unless you put them alongside those of his peers. Here are some pertinent examples:

Chad Henne - 87%, 6.4 ypc

Peyton Manning - 95%, 6.4 ypc

Tom Brady - 80%, 8.2 ypc

Surprisingly, Brady had a lower completion percentage, but the plays gained over twice as many yards. Again, that comes down to how accurately the ball is thrown. Just for fun, these were Chad Pennington's numbers in 2008:

Chad Pennington - 91%, 6.4 ypc.

As you can see, the Jets were not nearly as successful as these other teams. Of course, that isn't necessarily on Sanchez, although PFF did rate him negatively on ten short passes to running backs in 2010 - seven overthrows and three underthrows. In contrast, Brady had just two - one of which was David Harris' interception - and Peyton Manning had just three. Therefore, there is some evidence to suggest that Sanchez was a major part of the reason why the screen passes were not quite as effective as they might have been.

How did the team fare in Sanchez' rookie year, then? They actually ran fewer screen passes, but they also passed less overall, so as a percentage, they ran screen passes 11.8% of the time, which is comparable to a few of the examples from earlier. In 2009, Sanchez only completed 72%, so you can begin to see why they started to go away from it. However, the improvement to 81% in 2010 is a positive sign. Hopefully this suggests that Sanchez is improving in that area and the screen pass will eventually become a more reliable option. Also in 2009, the play was pretty successful when it was completed, gaining 7.5 yards per catch. However, when you consider yards per attempt, the low completion percentage drops that figure below that of Miami, New England and Indianapolis from the list of 2010 examples above.

Why Was the YPC so Low in 2010?

First it should be noted that the sample sizes are small enough that a big play could have a huge impact on the numbers. For example, Jerricho Cotchery had a 33 yard gain on a WR screen called back for a holding penalty. Had that stood, the YPC number would have risen from 4.0 to 4.7. As another example, you'll recall Tom Brady pitching to Danny Woodhead on what was ruled a 50 yard catch against the Jets. Had that been classed as a run, New England's YPC would have dropped by over a yard and Woodhead's would have almost halved.

Looking at the individual splits, one major reason is that LaDainian Tomlinson was pretty inefficient on screen passes. He averaged under three yards per catch and if you remove him from the equation, the rest of the screen passes thrown in 2010 averaged a more respectable 5.2 ypc.

Tomlison was a reliable checkdown option over the middle, but perhaps his lack of speed and inability to break tackles relative to someone like Leon Washington obviously limited his ability to make much ground when catching the ball behind the line. Let's compare Tomlinson's 21 catches for 57 yards (with four incompletions) on screen passes with some of the other backs around the league.

Ray Rice (league leader in receiving yards for RBs) - 31-309 (five incompletions)

Danny Woodhead (league leader in yards per catch for RBs) - 8-96 (four inc.)

Jamaal Charles (PFF's top rated overall RB) - 20-118 (three inc.)

LeSean McCoy (league leader in receptions for RBs) - 54-408 (five inc.)

Darren McFadden (big play specialist) - 26-253 (no inc.)

While there may be some evidence that the Jets' ability to run a screen pass was hampered by the effectiveness of their receiving personnel, the accuracy of passes thrown to Tomlinson or possibly the play design may also be a factor in his low relative success rate. Maybe these factors had a material effect on his ability to break tackles. Certainly, if you look back to Tomlinson's numbers on screen passes with Phil Rivers throwing him the ball in 2008 and 2009, his production far exceeds the 21-57 he achieved in 2010. In 2009, he had 15 catches for 77 yards (with two incompletions) and in 2008 he caught 29 for 190 yards (with seven incompletions). While Tomlinson's overall numbers have dipped since 2008, there was no discernable drop-off between 2009 and 2010, which again suggests that his numbers on screen passes should have been similar and therefore must be lower due to either the passer or the system.

How Did the Jets Fare Before Sanchez?

Unfortunately, I do not have the data available to appraise the efficacy of screen passes thrown while Chad Pennington was at the helm. However, we do have data for 2008. Brett Favre may not have been that accurate as a Jet, but with Leon Washington as an option and a smaller, shiftier crop of receivers, would his numbers throwing the screen pass be significantly better than those of Mark Sanchez, or would they be similarly hampered by Brian Schottenheimer's perceived inability to design a screen play properly?

The first thing to note is that they ran the screen pass 18% of the time - more than any of the teams in the previous examples. Clearly the screen pass was more of a staple of the offense back then and they had more confidence in it. Given that he threw screens about twice as often, how did Favre's numbers stack up with Sanchez' two year totals of 77% completions, 5.5 yards per catch and 4.2 yards per attempt?

Percentage - 89.4%

Yards per Catch - 5.7 ypc

Yards per Attempt - 5.1 ypa

Clearly these numbers were significantly better than those for Mark Sanchez, which suggests that any contention that Brian Schottenheimer doesn't know how to use a screen pass can be shot down and the reason they have used it less with Sanchez at the helm must be because they expected it to be less effective. For a further comparison, let's look at what Favre did with screen passes over the last couple of years in Minnesota.

Threw a screen 13.5% of the time

Completed 85%

Yards per catch - 6.8

Yards per attempt - 5.8

A slight improvement, but not significant enough to suggest that Favre was significantly better off throwing screen passes in Minnesota.

Having reached the conclusion that LaDainian Tomlinson's effectiveness was impacted by joining the Jets, we can also consider whether any of the other Jets were more effective on screen passes before Sanchez took over at Quarterback.

- Leon Washington - 2008: 26-228 (4 incompletions), 2009: 3-25 (3 incompletions).

Already you can see how Sanchez' accuracy had an effect. Obviously, Leon was hurt early in the season, so the sample size is small, but already you can see that the play was used less and was less effective per attempt. Critics of Brian Schottenheimer might point to this as evidence that Leon was under-utilized, but it was actually just a sign that they were choosing to get the ball to him in ways other than via the screen pass. He still averaged over 14 touches a game (not including kick and punt returns) in those first six games, well ahead of his 2008 pace - under eight touches per game.

- Thomas Jones - 2008: 21-121 (3 incompletions), 2009: 5-22 (4 incompletions).

Once again, you can see a significant drop in terms of usage, accuracy and yardage per attempt. For what it's worth, Jones caught all five screen passes for 19 yards in 2010, but the Chiefs tended to use the speedier Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster for that play and Jones' numbers for accuracy and yards per attempt were still better than in 2009.

- Jerricho Cotchery - 2008: 12-50 (one incompletion), 2009/2010: 16-123 (one incompletion)

Here we start to see a pattern develop. Sanchez was just as good, if not better, in terms of throwing screen passes to his receivers. That seems to apply across the board, but I've used Cotchery to illustrate this because he is the main target and the one who seems to have the most success per attempt (Brad Smith, Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes have a combined 11 catches for 18 yards over the last three years). When you throw the ball to a receiver in the flat, it's more of a fast pass, whereas Sanchez seems to struggle with a soft dump-off to his backs. In other words, touch is as much of a problem for him as accuracy. Of his 10 incomplete screen passes in 2010, none went to wide receivers and of his 12 incomplete screen passes in 2009, only three did.

Just to underline this, let's compare Favre's 2008 numbers for RB screens only, to those of Sanchez in 2009/2010:

Favre - 47 for 54 (87%), 349 yards (6.5 ypc, 7.4 ypa)

Sanchez - 36 for 53 (68%), 134 yards (2.5 ypc, 3.7 ypa)

That's pretty illuminating.

Is Blocking the Problem?

To answer this question, we can again look back to 2008, when the Jets had more success with the screen pass. The offensive line was the same in 2010 as it was back in 2008, apart from the fact that Matt Slauson replaced Alan Faneca. Looking at PFF's ratings for screen blocking in 2008, all five graded positively. Ferguson and Woody were 3rd and 6th in the league for screen blocking among tackles, Faneca and Moore were 6th and 14th respectively among guards and Mangold was 10th among centers. So, all five were capable of doing a good job. None have factored in the leaders for screen blocking since then, due to the Jets not running many screens and having limited success when they do so.

Maybe Alan Faneca was better at blocking in space in 2008 than Matt Slauson is now, but otherwise, the line should still be able to perform up to that level. In fact, any downgrade from the left guard position can perhaps be offset by Ferguson's improvements in that area. One minor concern might be that Brandon Moore was graded as the worst guard in the NFL on screen passes in 2009. However, he was back in the middle of the pack in 2010, so that's probably just an aberration due to the small sample size. Overall, I think the linemen are equipped to block screen passes effectively and are not the reason for the play not being as successful as it might have been.

One other underrated aspect was that Laveraneus Coles was an surprisingly effective blocker on screens. In 2008, he ranked behind just Jabar Gaffney for screen blocking among wide receivers, despite having a negative blocking grade overall. Having said that, Coles had a negative grade for screen blocking in 2009 with the Bengals and overall I consider the current crop of Jets wideouts to be about as good at blocking as that 2008 group.

Looking Ahead

Although the yards per attempt and the percentage of throws that were screens dipped in 2010, the Jets did throw more screen passes overall and Sanchez was able to improve his completion percentage from 72% to 81%, which is hopefully a sign that he is growing in that area. If the Jets get younger at the Right Tackle position, that may improve their ability to get out in front. There is evidence to suggest that Brian Schottenheimer and Bill Callahan have had success with the screen pass in the past, so that shouldn't hold them back. The final question is whether they have the personnel at running back to make the screen game work.

LaDainian Tomlinson did not produce well on screen passes last year and is not getting any younger. However, with a reduced role and better ball placement, he can perhaps replicate his 2009 numbers which would represent a big improvement. Shonn Greene is developing as a receiver, catching two screen passes for 14 yards last year, but also seeing five fall incomplete. Again, better accuracy from Sanchez should see an improvement there. It would seem that Joe McKnight is well equipped to make an impact in this area, although he - perhaps surprisingly - only had 13 catches for 66 yards in three years at USC. Then again, Sanchez was his Quarterback for some of that time. One other option might be John Conner, who caught 25 passes for 193 yards in college, so should represent an upgrade over Tony Richardon (4-for-17 on screen passes over the last three years) in the passing game.

Conclusions

Maybe Brian Schottenheimer could draw up better plays or call them at better times. Maybe the blocking could be better. Maybe the playmaking abilities of the Jets' skill position players leave a lot to be desired. However, on this occasion, the evidence points overwhelmingly to the fact that Mark Sanchez is the weak link at the moment in the Jets' screen game. When throwing the ball to his backs, Sanchez' accuracy is statistically well below that of his peers. Furthermore, even when he completes the pass, his ball placement is inconsistent, reducing the effectiveness of the play. The statistics and my recollections from film study during the season both bear this out.

The fact that he improved his completion percentage on screen passes in 2010 is a positive sign that hopefully this is an area that he will contnue to grow in. If the screen pass is a weapon they can use more effectively over the next few seasons, it will make the offense all the more dynamic.

Tags: BGA, Main Page, Bent Double

Oct 14, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold. (Kirby Lee)
Oct 14, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold. (Kirby Lee)

Jonas Schwartz and Willie Colon are back in the studio to give their instant reaction to the Jets' selection of quarterback Sam Darnold with the third pick in the NFL Draft.

The guys welcome in SNY Draft expert Ralph Cirminiello to break down the positives and negatives of Darnold's game. Then, SNY Jets analyst Ray Lucas joins the show to give his two cents on the pick, and to discuss whether Darnold has the tools to be a great QB in the NFL.

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Sam Darnold talks Jets with SNY 00:02:03
SNY NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano talks to San Darnold after the QB was chosen by the New York Jets with the third pick in the NFL Draft.

When this whole thing started, USC QB Sam Darnold was projected to be the No. 1 overall pick. He was the safest quarterback prospect that checked all the boxes. 

But the Browns decided to go with Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield. And the Giants steered clear of a quarterback, going with Penn State RB Saquon Barkley instead. 

So, when the Jets saw Darnold in their lap at No. 3, they called his name. 

Tags: Sam Darnold, Scott Thompson
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Maccagnan on Darnold selection 00:00:57
Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan discusses how the Jets landed on Sam Darnold with the third overall pick in Thursday's draft.

"I knew whatever happens happens. And it happens for a reason."

"I'm really excited about being with the Jets...really excited to meet my teammates and co

Tags: Sam Darnold
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SNY's Jets panel on Darnold pick 00:02:19
Ray Lucas, Willie Colon and the SNY Jets crew react to the selection of QB Sam Darnold by the Jets with the third pick in the NFL Draft.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

When the Jets traded up from No. 6 to No. 3, they were convinced that the best quarterback in the draft likely wouldn't be available.

So this was quite a surprise.

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 (Tim Heitman)
(Tim Heitman)

The Jets have the guy who they hope is their Quarterback of the Future. 

With the No. 3 overall pick in the NFL Draft, the Jets selected USC QB Sam Darnold -- who many experts had going No. 1 to the Browns. 

However, he slipped down to the Jets, and they jumped on the opportunity. SNY's Ralph Vacchiano reported last week that Darnold could be in consideration if the Browns or Giants didn't take him first. The assumption by most was that the pick would be between UCLA's Josh Rosen or Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield

Tags: Josh McCown, Scott Thompson
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Top QB prospect Sam Darnold 00:01:02
Former USC quarterback Sam Darnold is expected to be taken as one of the top QB's in the 2018 NFL Draft.

The Jets traded up and got their guy: Sam Darnold is coming to New York. 

Darnold completed 63.1 percent of his passes for 4,143 yards, 26 touchdowns, and nine interceptions in 14 games in 2017 during his second season as a starter for the Trojans.

Here are some of Darnold's best moments at USC.

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Southern California Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold throws the ball against the Oregon State Beavers during the second quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY Sports)
Southern California Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold throws the ball against the Oregon State Beavers during the second quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY Sports)

With the 3rd pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, the New York Jets select USC QB Sam Darnold. 

Darnold, 20, completed 63.1 percent of his passes for 4,143 yards, 26 touchdowns, and nine interceptions in 14 games in 2017 during his second season as a starter for the Trojans.

But how did the Jets' players react to the pick?

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Head to SNY on Facebook and Twitter to watch SNY's Draft Night Live tonight as soon as the Jets are on the clock with the No. 3 pick.

Jonas Schwartz, former NFL players and current SNY analysts Ray Lucas and Willie Colon, and SNY Draft Expert Rich Cirminiello will be giving analysis in advance of the pick and reaction after. 

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Apr 26, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; A general view of the front of the stadium before the NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports (Tim Heitman)
Apr 26, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; A general view of the front of the stadium before the NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports (Tim Heitman)

Tune to SNY tonight at 7 for the Jets Nation Draft Day special, which will take you right up to when the Browns go on the clock with the No. 1 pick at the Draft at 8 p.m.!

The special will feture Jonas Schwartz, Ray Lucas, and Willie Colon from our SNY Studios, with Jeane Coakley reporting from the Jets Facility at Florham Park and Ralph Vacchiano from Dallas the site of this year's NFL Draft.

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Stanford, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen (3) (Sergio Estrada)
Stanford, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen (3) (Sergio Estrada)

The Jets will reportedly take UCLA QB Josh Rosen over USC QB Sam Darnold if both of them are available at No. 3, reports Lance Zierlein of NFL.com.

In his Mini Mock Draft 5.0, SNY's Ralph Vacchiano has Rosen going to the Jets.

Darnold had been expected to go No. 1 to the Browns, but recent reports have the Browns instead taking Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield.

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Nov 18, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold (right) and UCLA Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen (3) shake hands after their game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports (Kelvin Kuo)
Nov 18, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold (right) and UCLA Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen (3) shake hands after their game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports (Kelvin Kuo)

At least one of USC QB Sam Darnold, UCLA QB Josh Rosen, and Wyoming QB Josh Allen will be on the board when the Jets select at No. 3 overall at the NFL Draft on Thursday night.

All three quarterbacks spoke with SNY's Ralph Vacchiano about the potential of playing for the Jets, with Rosen playfully jawing back at Vacchiano.

Click below to see...

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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

ARLINGTON, Tex. -- After months of rumors, reports and lies -- a lot of lies -- here is my final best guess about how the first 10 picks of the 2018 NFL draft are going to play out on Thursday night.

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Nov 2, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan on the sidelines before a game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Nov 2, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan on the sidelines before a game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: ARLINGTON, Tex. -- The Jets have been searching for a franchise quarterback for nearly 50 years now. They've found a few candidates along the way, though none of them were great. And they've missed on many, many more.

Now Jets GM Mike Maccagnan has a chance to change all that when he makes the No. 3 overall pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night. When he made the bold and early move to trade up from 6 to 3, surrendering three second-round picks over the next two years to the Indianapolis Colts in the process, there was no doubt he had a Quarterback of the Future in mind.

But which one? Here's a look at how I expect the Jets' selection to play out...

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Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield drops back to pass against Ohio State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) (Jay LaPrete/AP)
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield drops back to pass against Ohio State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) (Jay LaPrete/AP)

There's a "mounting belief" among head coaches and general managers around the league that the Cleveland Browns will take Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft on Thursday night, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.

A report Wednesday from Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com indicated that the Browns could be deciding between Mayfield and Wyoming QB Josh Allen at No. 1.

The Browns had been linked most recently to USC QB Sam Darnold as their likely choice at No. 1, with Mayfield's name first thrown in the mix on Tuesday. Now, the Browns are reportedly "cooling" on Darnold...

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Nick Mangold talks career 00:04:53
After announcing his retirement, New York Jets great Nick Mangold sits down with SNY to talk about his career and future.

After announcing his retirement, New York Jets great Nick Mangold sits down with SNY to talk about his career and future.

Tags: Nick Mangold
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Darnold talks Giants and Jets 00:01:27
Sam Darnold talks about meeting Eli Manning, his visits with the Giants and Jets and advice he received from fellow Trojan Mark Sanchez.

USC QB Sam Darnold didn't get to meet with Eli Manning during his visit with the Giants, but got to see plenty of Jets during his visit with them.

"I saw him from a distance and he was working, so I didn't want to bother him," Darnold said about Manning. "We had a chance to meet at the Manning Camp, which was awesome."

Regarding the Jets, Darnold said he got to see a bunch of players he was familiar with.

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UCLA QB Josh Rosen (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)
UCLA QB Josh Rosen (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

UCLA QB Josh Rosen, who is expected to be taken early in the first round during the NFL Draft on Thursday night, had fun with reporters who were asking him on Wednesday about the potential of being selected by the Jets at No. 3 or Giants at No. 2.

"You're trying to catch me," Rosen playfully told SNY's Ralph Vacchiano when asked about the media spotlight in New York.

Rosen also discussed his visits to the Jets and Giants. Hear his full comments below...

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Willie Colon picks Josh Rosen 00:01:03
SNY Jets Analyst Willie Colon thinks the Jets will select quarterback Josh Rosen with the third pick in the NFL Draft.

Former Jet and current SNY analyst Willie Colon thinks the Jets will tab UCLA QB Josh Rosen with the No. 3 pick in Thursday's NFL Draft in Dallas. 

"I think [GM Mike] Maccagnan is at the point where he's okay with a kid being an outward thinker -- that's the label, so to speak, with Rosen," Colon said Tuesday on The Jet Stream Podcast on SNY. "But I think he understands he's an extremely polished quarterback."

Along with Rosen, the Jets have been connected to Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, who SNY's Ralph Vacchiano and Peter Schrager of Fox Sports believes will be the Jets' pick. ...Click below to listen to the Jet Stream podcast with Colon, Schrager, and Jonas Schwartz...

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Jan 1, 2018; Pasadena, CA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes against the Georgia Bulldogs in the first quarter in the 2018 Rose Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Rose Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports (Kirby Lee)
Jan 1, 2018; Pasadena, CA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes against the Georgia Bulldogs in the first quarter in the 2018 Rose Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Rose Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports (Kirby Lee)

Peter Schrager of Fox Sports would be "shocked" if the Jets pass on Baker Mayfield if he's available when they pick at No. 3 during Thursday's NFL Draft, he said during Tuesday's Jet Stream Podcast on SNY.

Schrager spoke of "glowing reports" he received from the dinner Mayfield had with team brass a few weeks ago, and thinks the Jets are all-in on Mayfield -- even if Sam Darnold is available at No. 3.

"Everything I've been listening to for the last two, three months has been that Baker Mayfield -- if he's on the board -- is going to be the pick for the Jets," Schrager said. "That might include Sam Darnold as well -- if Darnold somehow falls. I think that they have been in love with Mayfield for this entire time. I'd be shocked if they went with one of the other guys."

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Jonas Schwartz and Willie Colon are finally ready to see who the Jets select in this year's NFL Draft! Will it be Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, or Josh Allen? To get their answer, they welcome the NFL Network's Peter Schrager to the show for his take on each quarterback, and discuss why Rosen is the guy and why Mayfield is mostly definitely not.

Click below to listen

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Jets' third-round options 00:05:01
SNY NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano and SNY NFL Draft Expert Rich Cirminiello discuss who the Jets will take in the third round of the draft.

The bulk of the attention has been on who the Jets will do with the No. 3 overall pick in Thursday night's NFL Draft.

It will be a quarterback. But which one? At least two of Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, and Josh Rosen will be available when the Jets pick.

Lost in the shuffle a bit has been the fact that the Jets have a third round pick (72nd overall) as well. And SNY NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano and SNY NFL Draft Expert Rich Cirminiello recently discussed who the Jets could take with that pick.

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Top QB prospect Baker Mayfield 00:01:01
Former Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield is expected to be taken as one of the top QB's in the 2018 NFL Draft.

What is NFL Draft week without some drama over the No. 1 pick?

With reports circulating Monday that Wyoming QB Josh Allen is no longer in consideration for the Browns' No. 1 pick, ESPN's Adam Schefter is now reporting that Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield is "definitely" in the conversation. 

Schefter continues by saying the Browns may have their choice in mind for their first overall pick, and before that decision was made, Mayfield was a player in the mix.

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Nick Mangold retires from NFL 00:02:30
After spending eleven seasons with the Jets, Nick Mangold announces his retirement from the NFL.

Nick Mangold, who spent 11 seasons with the Jets, announced his retirement at the team's facility after signing a one-day contract on Tuesday. 

Tags: Nick Mangold
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GEICO SportsNite: Jets 00:01:07
Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan discusses the team's strategy for its No. 3 overall pick with the draft just a few days away.

New York Jets' Jamal Adams (33) and Los Angeles Chargers' Sean McGrath (84) fight for control of the ball during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun/AP)
New York Jets' Jamal Adams (33) and Los Angeles Chargers' Sean McGrath (84) fight for control of the ball during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun/AP)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

The Jets own the third pick in this year's draft, their highest since 1996. How have they drafted in the first round over the past five years?

2017: Safety Jamal Adams, No. 6

It's too early to tell how Adams' career will pan out, but the signs so far have been promising. He started every game in his rookie year as the Jets' secondary definitely played better than it had in 2016. On the field, Adams had his ups and downs, but he showed flashes of brilliance in a versatile role. Off the field, he's played a big part in the ongoing culture change that has galvanized the team and has also been a useful tool in player recruitment.

Tags: Calvin Pryor, Damon Harrison, Darron Lee, Dee Milliner, Jamal Adams, Leonard Williams, Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, Sheldon Richardson
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Nov 18, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold (right) and UCLA Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen (3) shake hands after their game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports (Kelvin Kuo)
Nov 18, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold (right) and UCLA Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen (3) shake hands after their game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports (Kelvin Kuo)

It will be an absolute stunner if the Jets don't take a quarterback after trading up to No. 3 in the NFL Draft, which takes place on Thursday night in Dallas.

So, who will it be?

At least two out of the group of Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, and Josh Allen will be available for the Jets. 

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Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) (Michael Conroy/AP)
Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) (Michael Conroy/AP)

The Browns' choices for their No. 1 pick seem to have come down to two choices just three days away from the NFL Draft: Sam Darnold or Josh Allen?

Yes, there is always the prospect of the Browns going with RB Saquon Barkley with their first overall selection, knowing they have the No. 4 pick later on. However, experts including SI's Peter King see Cleveland getting their quarterback first before addressing anywhere else. 

Recently, rumblings about Allen going No. 1 have gained some steam. But King's most trusted source says Allen is too much of a risk, and the Browns don't want to get another quarterback pick wrong.

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 (Kevin Jairaj)
(Kevin Jairaj)

Broadway Joe loves Broadway Baker. Or at least that's what could be Baker Mayfield's nickname if the Jets were to select him with their No. 3 overall pick. 

Hall of Famer and former Jets QB Joe Namath loves what he has seen from Mayfield over the years of watching him play. He recently watched the Georgia-Oklahoma College Football Playoff matchup at the Rose Bowl on New Year's Eve, and after his daughter asked if he had seen anything like the back-and-forth bout, he responded saying he wouldn't want to be going up against Mayfield...


Everything you need to know about the Jets and No. 3 >> Read more

Vacc's Mini Mock Draft has Jets tabbing Mayfield >> Read more

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 (Dennis Wierzbicki)
(Dennis Wierzbicki)

The Jets have not stopped looking for help on their defensive line as they hosted numerous free-agent linemen on Monday. 

Former Bears DT Lamarr Houston and former Patriots DT Chris Jones were among those looking to impress the Jets. Houston split time with the Bears and Texans last season, totaling five sacks over 10 games. A former second-round pick by the Raiders back in 2010, Houston is entering his ninth season in the NFL this year. 

Jones played for the division-rival Patriots in 2013 and 2014, where he finished with nine sacks and 79 tackles over 28 career games. He most recently played for the 49ers in 2016, where he had 17 tackles over six games. He did not play for an NFL squad in 2017. 

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New York Jets defensive end Leonard Williams on the sidelines during the third quarter against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets defensive end Leonard Williams on the sidelines during the third quarter against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

The Jets have officially picked up DL Leonard Williams' fifth-year option, keeping Williams with the team through 2019 at least. 

Williams, 23, the sixth overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, will make $14.2 million in 2019, assuming he's considered a defensive end. If they try to say he's a defensive tackle, the contract will be $11.4 million, according to SNY's Ralph Vacchiano. The contract becomes fully guaranteed next March.

"It's definitely time to step up and take it to the next level," Williams said last week via Vacchiano. "That comes with a lot. It's just not my play on the field. It comes with my leadership, how I approach work, how much time I'm putting in outside of the mandatory hours into my craft, into my game."

Tags: Leonard Williams
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