With the Giants and Jets both in the market for franchise quarterbacks, their options just increased with the announcements on Wednesday that USC’s Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen of UCLA will enter the 2018 draft.
The Giants own the second overall pick and could be in the market for an eventual replacement for Eli Manning. The Jets, who face an uncertain quarterback situation in 2018, have the sixth overall pick.
Darnold and Rosen join Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner, and Josh Allen of Wyoming as the top quarterbacks in this year’s class. Louisville’s Lamar Jackson also is expected to be a first-round pick if he, too, declares for the draft. Jackson has not announced a decision.
Rosen, a junior who missed last week’s Cactus Bowl because of concussion symptoms, threw for 27 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions in 2017, and his big arm and gunslinger mentality potentially will make him the first overall pick of the Browns.
Darnold, a sophomore, entered the 2017 college season with much fanfare, but wound up with solid but unspectacular numbers: 26 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions. He struggled in a 24-7 loss to Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl, finishing with no touchdowns and one interception.
Allen, who completed only 56.3 percent of his passes during the regular season, had an exceptional performance in a 37-14 win over Central Michigan in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, throwing three touchdown passes and no interceptions.
Mayfield threw for 287 yards, two touchdown passes and an interception in Oklahoma’s 54-48 overtime loss to Georgia in a wild Rose Bowl. During the regular season, the 6-1 quarterback had a whopping 43 touchdown passes and just six interceptions.
Jackson, an extraordinary passer as well as a runner, struggled in a 31-27 loss to Mississippi State in the Taxslayer Bowl, throwing two touchdown passes and four interceptions. Some NFL scouts project Jackson — the 2016 Heisman winner — as a wide receiver, but he has been adamant about wanting to be a pro quarterback. He had 27 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions during the regular season and also had 17 rushing touchdowns.