As the days before the upcoming NFL draft starts becoming hours, the Jets organization needs to take a hard look at filling all of their necessary needs to be successful this coming season – if and when that does happen.
With all of its hype and hoopla, the 2020 NFL Draft literally is the only game in town and no doubt sports fans of all types will be glued to their television sets, computers and smartphones just to see which teams make bold draft moves and which teams stay relatively quiet this week.
For the New York Jets, one of the biggest and yet overlooked concerns is the dire need for a strong backup QB behind Sam Darnold.
For all of his potential talent, Darnold has been riddled with injuries and illnesses in his short NFL career. No NFL organization really starts out this week in April by searching for a backup QB as a major, pressing need, but for the Jets that is exactly what this week entails.
To be perfectly honest, the Jets do have backups on their roster in the form of David Fales and Mike White. However, no NFL team can afford the luxury of thinking that they don’t need a solid depth chart at the QB position because one of the absolutes in professional football over the past few years lies in the fact that starting QB’s will get injured, whether in the preseason, the regular season or the postseason. Having multiple, capable backups at the signal-caller position is absolutely vital to each team and the Jets are certainly no exception.
During the upcoming draft, the Jets hold two picks in the 3rd round, one pick each in the fourth and fifth rounds and two more picks in the sixth round.
Prudence and smart depth chart planning call on the Jets to use at least one of these picks to select a strong backup QB would pick up the pieces for Sam Darnold should that happen in a game or even in practice.
Jordan Love // Utah State
One of the top contenders for a solid backup selection lies in Jordan Love out of Utah State.
Love is a 6’4″, 224 pounder who also has some decent speed by recording a 4.65 40 yard time at the recent NFL combine. During the 2019 season, Love completed 62% of his passes for 3, 402 yards, and 20 TDs versus 17 interceptions.
While Love has a strong arm and reportedly has good pocket presence and mobility, he has been noted as being fixated on his primary reads and that’s why he posted so many interceptions this past season. Love is considered a mid-round draft pick and with some work on his passing vision could develop into a solid backup QB.
Jake Fromm // Georgia
Another major name that has also been mentioned or should be mentioned as a truly solid backup for Sam Darnold lies in Georgia’s Jake Fromm. Fromm is not a speedster, having posted a 40 time of 4.90 in the NFL combine but is an accurate passer and this past season completed 60% of his passes for 24 TD’s against only 5 interceptions.
Fromm is known for having great games and games that are completely forgettable this past season. However, Jake Fromm has been regarded by many scouts as a great game manager and a solid play caller with a calm presence – key tools for a backup QB who may be thrown into a game with only a moment’s notice.
Fromm, along with James Morgan out of Florida International who had a great showing at this year’s Senior Bowl, is both widely regarded as strong backup candidates regardless of which NFL team decides to draft them.
Mason Fine // North Texas
One final backup candidate who should be on the Jets radar screen is Mason Fine.
Fine is out of North Texas and was one of the greatest QBs in that school’s history. This past year, Fine completed a respectable 62% of his completions and threw for 3,088 yards including 29 TD’s with only 9 interceptions. Fine also recorded a strong showing in the East-West Shrine game earlier this year and placed himself on the NFL draft map. Fine’s major drawback is his size: he is somewhere between 5’9″ and 5’10” and 190 lbs. Fine’s lack of physical size was a detriment in his college recruiting days and he landed with North Texas which was the only Division I program to offer him an athletic scholarship. However, Fine also has pretty decent speed for a QB and recorded a 4.60 40 time so he can be a scrambler and move quickly out of the pocket if and when he gets in trouble.
With this being said, I am truly biased towards Mason Fine. I am a high school coach in Oklahoma and had to coach against Fine numerous times when he attended Locust Grove High School east of Tulsa and I can say that I saw him do things at the QB position that were absolutely spectacular.
My own experiences with seeing Mason Fine on the field as a young high school QB and the fact that he is the all-time leading passer in Oklahoma high school history and his record of success at North Texas all point to the fact that Mason Fine may be a bargain draft pick or free-agent signing.
The Jets could certainly look at Fine as bargain backup QB and help him develop into that specialized role over the next couple of seasons.
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