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.
With the Cleveland Browns and Giants both passing on Sam Darnold at 1 and 2, the Jets got what might be the gift of the draft when Darnold - the consensus top quarterback - fell right into their laps. It's a scenario they didn't imagine at first, but began to consider a few weeks ago when they made the late decision to bring in Darnold for one of their pre-draft visits. Even then, though, this seemed a bit farfetched.
And yet the 6-3, 220-pound USC star is now the long-awaited savior of the Jets' franchise - the star quarterback they've been seeking since Joe Namath left town. He has all the tools -- the size, the arm strength, the poise and personality, and the ability to make plays in the pocket and on the run.
OK, he does have a few too many turnovers, including fumbles, and that's alarming. But he's young and he's proven to be far more accurate and dependable than, say, Wyoming's Josh Allen. The Jets - and many others - believe the mistakes that caused his turnovers are definitely correctable and that while he might struggle at first, he'll quickly get adjusted to the pro game.
My instant reaction to the Jets taking Sam Darnold: What a gift! And what a juicy NY storyline for the next decade! pic.twitter.com/wghsmKwjY2- Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) April 27, 2018
No, he's not the perfect prospect. Nobody thinks Darnold is an Andrew Luck, or even an Eli Manning-like prospect. But there was a general belief that he was the best of the bunch. Maybe Allen and Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield had a bit more of an upside, but they also probably will require a lot more work.
Darnold is the closest thing to a sure thing in this draft, and he's the best quarterback prospect the Jets have gotten their hands on since they drafted Namath first overall in the AFL draft back in 1965.
And as an added bonus for Jets fans: The Giants let him go. Their decision to pass on him, even though they need a future replacement for Manning, their 37-year-old starter, certainly was a head-scratcher. Now it could be the move that swings this intra-city rivalry and haunts the Jets' co-tenants for many years to come.