Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
On Sunday afternoon, Sam Darnold put the finishing touches on a rookie year that saw him complete 58 percent of his passes for 2,865 yards and 17 touchdowns, with 15 interceptions and two lost fumbles. He won four out of his 13 starts, but ended the season on an uptick, as he didn't throw any interceptions in the final three games.
How does his season compare with that of the other four first round quarterbacks from April's draft?
Baker Mayfield - 64% completions for 3.725 yards, 27 touchdowns with 14 interceptions and three fumbles lost
On Sunday, Mayfield wrapped up an outstanding rookie season by breaking the all-time rookie record with his 27th touchdown pass of the season. Having won five of his previous six starts, Mayfield almost led the Browns to a comeback win over the Ravens, but his late-game interception sealed Baltimore's victory. That was the one blemish on Mayfield's season as he was responsible for 17 turnovers - equalling Darnold's total in the same number of starts.
Mayfield also came off the bench to beat Darnold head-to-head in his first game, as the Jets blew a 14-3 lead in week three, albeit that this was in a game where the Jets' coaches seemed reluctant to let Darnold throw down the field.
Josh Allen - 53% completions for 2,074 yards and 10 touchdowns with 12 interceptions and two lost fumbles
The other rookie to face Darnold head-to-head was Allen, who was thoroughly outplayed in the Jets' 27-23 win, although he rushed for over 100 yards. Allen was erratic for most of the year but added extra value with his legs all year as he rushed for 631 yards and eight touchdowns. He had over 90 rushing yards in four of his 11 starts, of which he won five.
Statistically speaking, the season finale was one of Allen's best games of the year, as he had his highest quarterback rating of the season and a season-high three touchdown passes. However, he didn't have the same kind of sustained success down the stretch, as he had only completed more than 50 percent of his passes once in the previous five starts.
Josh Rosen - 55% completions for 2,278 yards and 11 touchdowns with 14 interceptions and five lost fumbles
Rosen lost 10 of his 13 starts, including seven of his last eight, as the Cardinals limped to a poor finish and ended up with the first overall pick. The main thing his season lacked was any complete performances with an outstanding stat-line.
In Rosen's defense, the Cardinals' offense suffered from a lack of talent, especially on the offensive line where their starting unit was decimated by injuries from the early part of the season. He was sacked 45 times and under constant pressure. While many have also suggested Darnold also dealt with a lack of talent, Rosen arguably had it much worse.
Lamar Jackson - 58% completions for 1,201 yards and six touchdowns with three interceptions and four lost fumbles
Despite being the last of the five selected and the last to get a start, Jackson will be the only one playing in January after leading the Ravens to the playoffs by winning six of his seven starts at the end of the year.
Like Allen, Jackson's passing numbers don't tell the whole story as he's been dynamic with his legs (695 rushing yards and five touchdowns). However, he still flashes rawness as a passer. Jackson has shown that the Ravens can win with him but needs to improve as a pocket passer over the next few years if he's going to remain healthy.
Mayfield's outstanding rookie season left the other four first round quarterbacks in his wake, but the Jets can at least console themselves with the fact that he was already off the board before they made their pick. He's older with good experience and was widely considered to be the most NFL-ready of this year's class, so Mayfield's early success wasn't altogether surprising, even though his record-breaking numbers perhaps exceeded expectations.
Beyond Mayfield, Darnold can arguably lay claim to the next-best set of passing numbers and also to being the rookie passer whose season ended on the most encouraging upwards trend.
Naturally, a strong rookie year is an encouraging sign, but it pales into insignificance when compared with the long-term success that quarterback will enjoy. After one season, Dak Prescott looked like a potential superstar, Jared Goff looked like a possible bust and Patrick Mahomes had barely played. Hopefully, Darnold's encouraging late-season play is a sign that he's the most likely from this group to make a leap in 2019, as the Jets are banking on him becoming one of the league's best within the next few seasons.