There is at least one voice going against the grain in the Jets’ potential pursuit of Deshaun Watson.
While the general consensus is that trading for Watson would be a franchise-changing move for the Jets, one prominent analyst suggested the Texans star quarterback may only be “slightly better” than what the Jets already have in Sam Darnold.
“To me, it just doesn’t make sense. I don’t think you’re getting a huge upgrade,” ESPN analyst Todd McShay said last week on the network’s “First Draft” podcast. “If I’m the Jets sitting at No. 2, I’m saying, you know what? I love Deshaun. He’s a really good player. I might even think he’s slightly better than Sam. But if Sam’s content and Sam wants to help us build this thing, we have picks two and 23 in the first round this year; 34, 66 and 87. So, five picks in the first 87. That should be at least four starters that you’re getting right there and two really impact starters with that second and 23rd overall pick.
“And then, by the way, we have two first-rounders next year, a first-rounder in the second and a first-rounder in the third. So, you’re talking about four first-rounders, two second-rounders and three third-rounders. Count those up. I mean, you’re building half of a roster right there in the next two drafts.”
McShay went on to note that the Jets could get even more draft capital if they stick with Darnold and trade the No. 2 pick to a quarterback-needy team. He also pointed out that the Jets could go a long way in helping Darnold by shoring up the offensive line, adding a game-changing wide receiver and a young running back, plus giving him a strong defense.
All of that would certainly help the 23-year-old Darnold, but it still might not put him in Watson’s stratosphere. While Darnold has shown flashes of what he could be through his first three seasons in the NFL, Watson, 25, has consistently proven the star that he is through four seasons.
Watson, a three-time Pro Bowler, has completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 14,539 yards, 104 touchdowns and 36 interceptions while rushing for 1,677 yards and 17 touchdowns. In 16 fewer regular-season games, Darnold has completed 59.8 percent of his passes for 8,097 yards, 45 touchdowns and 39 interceptions while rushing for 417 yards and five touchdowns.
“Certainly, Sam has work to do as a quarterback and he still makes some young mistakes. But I would much rather have all this draft capital than to make a deal that I’m giving up some of these picks to go get a Deshaun Watson or to deal Sam and bring in a rookie quarterback in Justin Fields, who was inconsistent,” McShay said.