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Zach Wilson's pro day could determine Sam Darnold's fate as a Jet

BYU quarterback Zach Wilson scrambles during the first

BYU quarterback Zach Wilson scrambles during the first half of an NCAA football game against Coastal Carolina on Dec. 5, 2020, in Conway, S.C. Credit: AP/Richard Shiro

The Jets have been active in free agency, doling out money for 12 new players. The trade market should be heating up for them very soon.

That also means a decision on Sam Darnold is near.

One of the biggest pro days in recent Jets history will take place on Friday when BYU quarterback Zach Wilson puts his skills on display for NFL decision-makers and scouts. General manager Joe Douglas and the rest of the Jets’ contingent will get an up-close-and-personal look at Wilson.

If he wows the Jets, they very well could use the No. 2 pick on him and hand the keys to the franchise over to the 21-year-old quarterback.

That would officially open the bidding on Darnold, 23, the quarterback the Jets handed the franchise over to three years ago.

The Jets already have received trade calls for Darnold. Talks were put on hold until Douglas goes through pro days, interviews players and decides the direction in which the Jets are going to go with this critical decision.

The clock is ticking.

Actually, the next week will go a long way toward determining the future of the Jets and Darnold. Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields will be a part of the Ohio State pro day on Tuesday. He’s another possible candidate for the Jets with the No. 2 selection, but

many believe the Jets are higher on Wilson.

"The pro day is extremely important," Douglas said. "It’s just good to stand next to the quarterback, to see the spin off his hand, to see the ball jump off his hand, to feel his presence. Those are all important things."

Because there was no NFL Combine this year, teams can’t go to dinner with the prospects or sit in a classroom setting. That makes the pro day even more important. Interviews are done through Zoom calls.

It’s not out of the question that after all is said and done, Darnold will return. Newly signed receiver Corey Davis said he joined the Jets with the understanding that Darnold would be the quarterback. Douglas and new coach Robert Saleh couldn’t say otherwise.

If the Jets decide to commit to Darnold, the No. 2 pick could be up for grabs. Douglas likely would get a haul for the No. 2, which he could use to fill many needs.

The Jets have nine picks, including two in the first round. Offensive line, receiver, edge rusher, cornerback and running back are positions they need to target.

Douglas is the main decision-maker, but he will listen to the input of his scouts, personnel people and the new coaching staff.

Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur may want to start fresh with a new quarterback. Douglas has praised Darnold’s leadership and skill, but he didn’t draft him and might want to pick his quarterback.

Darnold was the No. 3 pick in 2018. He’s 13-25 as a starting quarterback with 45 touchdown passes and 39 interceptions. He has yet to play behind a strong offensive line or have Pro Bowl-caliber weapons.

The Jets have to determine whether Darnold’s play will elevate with better talent around him or whether it’s time to move on.

The clock is ticking faster now.

New York Sports