The Bills looked like the smartest team in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, and on Thursday night they made a bid for 2018 honors, too.
Except that no one will know how smart they were until they see something from the player they made their clever move up to get.
Thus, thumbs-up to head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane for targeting one of the elite quarterbacks, doing what it took to get just far enough to reach him 鈥?and to hang onto the extra first-round pick most of the football world thought they’d have to surrender to get there.
McDermott was painfully transparent in his rookie year as coach about how he wanted his own man at the position. The Tyrod Taylor midseason benching fiasco put the Bills in position to miss the playoffs, and he and the team finally cut ties in the offseason with the trade of Taylor to the Browns. The Bills didn’t bite during the free-agency frenzy over Kirk Cousins and Case Keenum, settling on AJ McCarron to compete for the job in camp.
The draft was going to fix their problem; it was just a matter of which one they’d have to chase, and what it would cost to chase him. Allen wound up the third quarterback to go, after Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold went in the first three picks.
UCLA’s Josh Rosen was still on the board. He went three picks later, to a Cardinals team that also traded up to get their future quarterback.
Time will tell who made the smarter pick 鈥?and if somehow it was the Cardinals, Bills fans will let everybody involved 鈥?including Allen 鈥?know about it. Before that, though, give the Bills credit for decided what they wanted a year in advance and going after it.
Jets fans will expect Darnold to be better than that, and it’s difficult to predict which way this pick will go. Will Darnold bet the brilliant passer who threw for 31 TDs and nine interceptions while leading USC to a Rose Bowl victory against Penn State in 2016, or will he be the turnover-prone quarterback 鈥?he had 35 total in his last two seasons with the Trojans 鈥?who never really found a rhythm in 2017? Darnold was walking on both sides of that fine line in college. In the NFL, that margin for error won’t be the same.
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Darnold cannot commit that many turnovers at this level 鈥?especially in the New York limelight. That will be the biggest key to his development with the Jets.
This is a case where it wouldn’t hurt if the Jets sat Darnold as a rookie and let him grow into the role of NFL starter. Sanchez didn’t have that luxury as a rookie, and he finished with 12 TDs and 20 interceptions in 2009. Sanchez, in fact, struggled with interceptions his entire career. New York has McCown, Teddy Bridgewater and Christian Hackenberg on the roster. Darnold can win the job, but he doesn’t have to. That would be the optimal course of action for coach Josh Hart Womens Jersey Todd Bowles.
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I’m going to do whatever the coaches want me to do whether that’s start, Darnold said. I’m going to start in that role. If I’m the backup, I’m going to be the best backup I can be and do that. It’s all about the coaches want me to do. They get paid to their job, and I’ll get paid to do mine.