USC QB Sam Darnold is unlikely to leave school and enter the 2018 NFL Draft after the season, a source told Benjamin Allbright of 104.7 FM in Colorado.
The 3-4 Jets, who many expected to be in play for the No.1 overall pick, are in a six-way tie for the seventh-worst record in the NFL.
The 20-year-old Darnold has completed 183 of 288 passes for 2,292 yards with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in eight games this season for the 6-2 Trojans.
Darnold said before the season that a report that he might remain in school instead of entering the 2018 Draft did not come from him, but remained vague about his future.
"I don't really have many thoughts about that," he said. "I don't think any team should tank their season because of me. I'm just taking this every day, one day at a time. That's all I can do."
"I'm looking forward to whatever lies ahead of my future," he said. "But I'm really just taking it one day at a time."
Darnold completed 246 of 366 passes for 3,086 yards with 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 12 regular season games last season. He went 33-for-53 for 453 yards with five touchdowns and one interception during USC's 52-49 Rose Bowl win over Penn State on Jan. 2.
The last time the Jets had the first overall pick in the Draft was 1997, when QB Peyton Manning decided to return to play his final year at Tennessee instead of entering the Draft.
"I'm having an incredible experience as a student-athlete at Tennessee,'' Manning said at the time "But if I'm good enough to play in the NFL, as many experts say I am, then I can only be better after one more season."
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We're still only about half of the way into Darnold's redshirt sophomore season, so plenty could change between now and next April, but this news isn't entirely surprising.
Over the past few weeks, Darnold hasn't looked like a first round prospect, let alone a potential No. 1 pick. Whether the pressure has been too much for him, he's struggling without some of the Trojans' departed skill-position players, or he was never the finished article everyone seemed to suggest he was, the youngster's struggles have been alarming.
Not only does Darnold lead the nation in fumbles, he's also had issues with accuracy, footwork, and the mechanics of his release. After a promising start to the year, he's been really poor over the last month. And their blowout loss to Notre Dame this weekend was something you could see coming as they'd been winning in spite of his struggles in some recent games.
I never totally bought into the hype about Darnold, but he could yet prove to be a better prospect than some of the USC flops that preceded him. And another year (or even two) in school might be the best way he can achieve that goal.
As for the Jets, I never bought into the fact that they were tanking to try and land Darnold, either. They could still end up with a high pick, though, and it could well be a quarterback. Looking at the way this class is developing, it's just not going to be the sure thing that Darnold was supposed to be, regardless of where they pick.