New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) throws the ball during New York Jets rookie mini camp at Atlantic Health Training Center.


Silverman: Early Returns Indicate Darnold, Allen and Rosen Making Steady Progress

Steve Silverman
June 05, 2018 - 11:55 am

The on-field and in-the-NFL meeting room education has begun in earnest for NFL rookies, as teams have conducted their minicamps and OTAs across the NFL.

The April draft was one of the more celebrated in recent years because four quarterbacks were selected in the top-10 and five in the first round.

Sam Darnold is the Jets’ hope for the future, and he was viewed as the quarterback with the most overall talent throughout the majority of the draft season.

He is going through a major learning experience and there were some key issues in the first week of OTAs, but he showed quite a bit of improvement in the second week.

The progress is likely to mean that Darnold has a legitimate chance to win the starting job and open the season as New York’s No. 1 quarterback. However, if Darnold struggles, head coach Todd Bowles will be able to make Teddy Bridgewater or Josh McCown the team’s starter.

"He's been progressing, obviously we're installing the offense and putting in everything on defense," Bowles said. "He's seeing things for the first time on both sides of the ball. But as the days go by he's getting more comfortable, so he's just got to keep working at it and getting better."

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Josh Rosen was considered to be the most NFL-ready when he was selected by the Arizona Cardinals with the No. 10 pick, and that perspective still holds.

He has grasped the concepts behind the Arizona offense, and his on-field execution has been solid to this point.

The Cardinals brought in NFL veteran Sam Bradford during the offseason, and while there are no doubts about his ability or leadership skills, he almost always faces one type of injury situation or another. That means the Cardinals need to have Rosen ready to jump in at any time.

Bradford could be the starting quarterback in Week One, but Rosen could be asked take over at any point, and there’s no reason to think he won’t be ready.

Josh Allen is off to an eye-opening start with the Buffalo Bills.

Allen was thought to be at least a year away from starting because he did not come from the same type of sophisticated offense as Baker Mayfield, Darnold or Rosen.

There was no doubt about his arm strength or physical skills, but he appeared to have much to learn when it came to performing at the NFL level. However early reports on Allen’s performance have been quite impressive, and there’s a chance he will be able to move up the ladder and earn a starting job quickly.

A.J. McCarron is on top of the depth chart at this point, but he is not a formidable presence. Allen has much to learn and will have to prove himself throughout the preseason, but he has a chance to start now after that did not appear to be a possibility right after the draft.

Heisman Trophy-winning Baker Mayfield made steady gains throughout the draft season and ended up as the No. 1 pick with the Cleveland Browns.

The Browns have won one game in the past two years, and they have also brought in ex-Bill Tyrod Taylor to start the season as the team’s starting quarterback. However, it’s probably just a matter of four-to-eight games before the Browns turn their offense over to their prized rookie.

Mayfield has been working with the backups in offseason practice sessions, and head coach Hue Jackson has continued to endorse Taylor as the team’s starter.

“Tyrod’s our starting quarterback. Baker’s our No. 1 pick,” Jackson said. “He’s our quarterback of the future. I’ve said that since this happened. I don’t think that will change.”

Mayfield has to get used to taking snaps from center, something he didn’t do at Oklahoma since the Sooners operated out of a shotgun formation. While that is something that he could get used to, he was intercepted three times in an OTA that was viewed by the media, and he made other shaky throws as well.

Lamar Jackson was selected by the Baltimore Ravens, and there are no expectations that he will beat out Joe Flacco and become the team’s starting quarterback this year.

However, Flacco has not been impressive either of the last two seasons, and Jackson gives them a talented leader who will be able to give the team a lift.

His early performance with the team, and Ravens’ safety Eric Weddle may have been going overboard, but he called Jackson “… as talented a player as I’ve seen.”

If Jackson can continue to progress, he could bypass Flacco if the veteran plays in an ordinary manner in the first half of the season.

Follow Steve on Twitter at @Profootballboy