Jets will watch top QB prospects Darnold, Rosen

Jets will watch top QB prospects Darnold, Rosen

Ralph Vacchiano| Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The most important football game for New York will not take place at the Meadowlands on Sunday. It will take place 2,800 miles away at the Los Angeles Coliseum, where the future of one or both of the New York teams may be on display Saturday night.

And yes, both the Giants and Jets will both have scouts in the press box watching UCLA take on USC - along with 18 other NFL teams. Their eyes will be fixed on Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen and Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold - the odds-on favorites to be the first and second picks of the 2018 draft.

The Jets, of course, are desperate to find their franchise quarterback. And the Giants are searching for the heir to their 36-year-old quarterback Eli Manning. Right now, the Giants seem to be in the best position to grab the quarterback they desire. But a few more losses over the final six games, and perhaps a trade up, and the Jets could be in position, too.

So with the Rosen-Darnold showdown looming, here's a look at the quarterback situation and desires of the two New York teams, and at the two quarterbacks who might be the city's future football kings:

JETS (4-6)

The Jets' search for a franchise quarterback has been going on forever, and they know they need one now. They've got a young team they expect to be a playoff contender in the next couple of years, and it won't be behind 38-year-old Josh McCown. It could be behind Christian Hackenberg-- their second-round pick from a year ago -- but team sources indicate the Jets still aren't sold on him.

Also, it's likely that barring an injury to McCown, he's not going to play at all this year.

The Jets, with a ton of cap room, could make a big offseason splash on a free agent like Kirk Cousins or Alex Smith if they're available. But they are strongly eyeing the draft class too - including Wyoming's Josh Allen, just in case Darnold and Rosen are out of reach.

Currently, the Jets are positioned to pick 11th, long after Darnold and Rosen will be gone. With a tough schedule the rest of the way, that could change. They also have accumulated some extra picks - including a second-rounder in the Sheldon Richardson trade - they could use as ammunition to move up.

GIANTS (1-8)

When they drafted quarterback Davis Webb in the third round last year, the Giants never imagined they'd be anywhere close to the top of the 2018 draft. They all-but anointed Webb as Manning's heir apparent and penciled in his arrival for 2020, after Manning's contract was up.

Then came this miserable season and their current death spiral and now they seem a lock for a Top 5 pick thanks to their long list of injuries, dysfunctional locker room and painfully tough schedule. Currently they'd pick third, though really second thanks to their loss to the previously winless 49ers last Sunday. They're not going to end up much lower than that.

And yes, according to a team source, they will strongly consider a quarterback. Once they saw this season slipping away, they stepped up their scouting at that position. They even sent GM Jerry Reese and scouting director Marc Ross to scout some of the top prospects in person (it was not immediately clear if they will be there Saturday night).

The Giants do like Webb, but they know Rosen and Darnold could be truly special, and they know it would be horribly negligent to pass up on a true franchise player just because they have a developmental player on their roster in his spot.

USC QB Sam Darnold

He's the one that seems to excite scouts the most, even though there are some questions about his mechanics and development. He's 6-foot-4, 220 pounds and carries himself like a franchise quarterback, seemingly unflappable and cool under pressure. Most rave about his leadership, especially with the 12th-ranked Trojans (9-2) in the midst of a terrific season behind their star sophomore.

His numbers are good, too. He's completed 63.4 percent of his passes for 3,198 yards, with 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, despite what some scouts think is a bit of a funky release. He has four rushing touchdowns too, though his 55 runs have only gone for 89 yards this season. He did struggle with his accuracy earlier this season with six interceptions in his first three games and nine in his first six. But he's only thrown two in the last five games while throwing 12 touchdown passes.

Right now, he's the consensus No. 1 overall pick if he decides to come out this season. Some scouts think he might not.

UCLA QB Josh Rosen

Rosen is considered to be the most polished and accurate quarterback in the draft, and from a physical standpoint, he might be the most ready to step right in for an NFL team. Most of the questions about him stem from his maturity and what many consider to be a cocky attitude.

At 20, scouts concede he has some growing up to do.

Assuming he does, he has all the tools. Though his team is 5-5, he's completed 62.2 percent of his passes for 3,094 yards, 21 touchdowns and only nine interceptions - three in a stinker of a loss at Arizona in mid-October. He's 6-foot-4, 218 pounds, and scouts believe he can make every throw. The problem is that he knows it and sometimes tries to make throws he shouldn't. That's where his cockiness gets him into trouble.

Currently, he is expected to be a Top 5 pick - very likely No. 2 overall, depending on where quarterback-needy teams land at the top of the draft.

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