The Jets are taking a quarterback with the third overall pick in the draft. They know it. Everyone knows it. And they know everyone knows it. "I mean, you'd have to be out of your mind to think otherwise," was how one team official said it.
The only lingering question is: Which one?
The Jets have had or will have had private meetings and workouts with all of the top four, and GM Mike Maccagnan has made the rounds at their Pro Days. When they traded up to No. 3 they were convinced that they'd be happy with choosing from whichever two (or three) fell to them. And obviously at least two of the Big Four -- USC's Sam Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield and Wyoming's Josh Allen -- will still be there.
So which one is most likely to be the long-awaited franchise quarterback of the Jets? A lot obviously depends on what the Cleveland Browns and the Giants do with the first two picks. But here's a look at the four options, the likelihood that they'll still be available, and the chances that they will soon be wearing green:
USC's Sam Darnold
This is the player who almost certainly is going to end up No. 1 on the Jets' draft board, and really that's where this has been headed for over a year. Multiple sources have indicated that the Jets have been eyeing him closely for a while, but they were pretty convinced that there's no way he'd slip to them at No. 3.
Now? Well, maybe they know something, because as recently as a week ago they weren't even going to bring in Darnold for one of their 30 pre-draft visits. But then came word earlier this week that they decided to bring him in after all.
There can only be two reasons why: Either they suddenly believe that there's at least a chance he'll get by both the Browns and the Giants, and they're doing their due diligence just in case, or they think there's a chance they can trade up to 1 or 2. Maccagnan made a point at the NFL owners meetings that he's open to moving up, but several NFL sources have said the Browns won't trade the No. 1 pick and that if the Giants trade down from No. 2 it absolutely won't be to the Jets. So it must be that they think he might drop. Maybe.
I suppose that's possible, and a lot of people think the Browns seem to be zeroing in on Allen. It seems unlikely the Giants would let Darnold get past them, but you never know. If he does, he'd probably be the Jets' guy.
Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield
So, do you believe the hype, or do you believe it's all a smokescreen? Because right now the overwhelming consensus around the NFL seems to be that the Heisman Trophy winner will become "Broadway Baker" and the young star the Jets have been searching for since Joe Namath.
The odds are pretty good he'll be available at 3. There doesn't seem to be any real interest in Mayfield from the Browns (at least not with the first pick) or the Giants. There's a chance someone could trade up to 2 with the Giants to get him, but it's still hard to see the Giants trading down too far in the draft.
Most likely, this is all about whether the Jets really like him or not. A month ago, a team source said they had real reservations about how he'd handle New York. Now another team source says they have warmed to him over the past month. They certainly love his ability and don't seem to have much concern about his (lack of) height (6-foot-1), and they think he potentially could be ready to be their starter in 2019.
A lot of people seem to think the Jets' choice will come down to Mayfield or Rosen. The buzz at the moment is that they'd favor Mayfield -- if you choose to believe the buzz.
UCLA's Josh Rosen
It's not impossible that he'll be off the board by the time the Jets pick, but the winds at 1 and 2 appear to blowing in a different direction right now. Presuming the Jets have Rosen and Mayfield to choose from -- which seems to be the most likely case -- it's just a matter of which one they like better. (And in the event the Giants go non-QB at 2, do they like either of them better than Allen).
Rosen has some personality worries, just like Mayfield does. But he has more prototypical size (6-4, 226) and there are some who think he's the most pro-ready of the bunch. But again, everyone thinks the Jets have just fallen for Mayfield lately. Their feelings on Rosen just haven't generated the same buzz. That doesn't mean they don't like him, though. They liked him more than Mayfield when this process began and they've spent a lot of time studying him since then.
Whether he'd be the guy comes down to the question of whether their love of Mayfield is real or fake. Stay tuned on that one.
Wyoming's Josh Allen
The Jets have done a ton of homework on this scout's dream, with his cannon arm and his tremendous size (6-5, 233). But he remains a project, based on his accuracy in college and the level at which he played.
That's not a deal-breaker for the Jets, but remember, they are looking for a 2019 starter. They're not necessarily looking for someone to spend the next 2-3 years on the sidelines learning. That makes Allen the riskiest of the picks for them. He can't be ruled out, of course. He's good enough that he's getting strong consideration by the Browns at No. 1.
But if the Browns don't take him, he'll almost certainly get past the Giants and will give the Jets a choice to make. How much will they listen to the scouts who generally seem to think he has the most upside in this class? We'll see.