Jets CEO Christopher Johnson told a 20-year-old southern California kid he’ll be fine in New York.
Johnson expressed surprise the Jets’ first-round pick, USC quarterback Sam Darnold, was available at No. 3.
And that was OK by Johnson.
During the phone call to tell Darnold he was going to be the Jets’ pick, Johnson told him: “Sam, man oh man. I did not think we would have a shot at you, and I’m so happy. Dude, you’re going to love New York.”
Darnold was projected as the best quarterback in the draft and was assumed to go No. 1 to the Browns. But when Cleveland selected Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, there were some nervous moments for the Jets.
The Giants, at No. 2, selected Saquon Barkley, the running back from Penn State. That’s what the Jets needed to make sure Darnold was their man.
Darnold was the Jets’ final pre-draft visitor two weeks ago, and before that he conducted a private workout for the team, something general manager Mike Maccagnan didn’t originally think was necessary.
Maccagnan said he saw Darnold play five times in person during the 2017 season, including against UCLA where another top prospect, Josh Rosen, was playing.
So nobody can say the Jets didn’t do their homework on Darnold, and yet the franchise wasn’t sure if he was available.
“Sam, how you doing?” Todd Bowles said to Darnold during the call which was replayed on the Jets’ team website. “We meet again, so soon. Glad to have you man, more than happy to have you. Unbelievable. (I) didn’t think you’d be here. It’s going to be outstanding. Can’t wait to get to you.”