With less than a month to go until the NFL draft, the board is being shaken up quite a bit. After a series of transactions that saw the San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles all move around the first round, another trade has now taken place that could possibly have a big impact on the first day of the draft as well — and by extension the New England Patriots as well.
As first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the New York Jets have agreed to a trade that will send quarterback to the Carolina Panthers for three total draft picks. The Jets will receive a sixth-round selection this year as well as second- and fourth-round picks in 2022 in return.
Darnold originally arrived in New York as the third overall pick of the 2018 draft and has been the team’s starter ever since. Playing on a team devoid of talent and consistent coaching, however, the former USC struggled in three years as a Jet: Darnold appeared in 38 games and completed just 59.8 percent of his passes for 8,097 yards, 45 touchdowns and 39 interceptions.
Now, he will try to get his career back on track in a new environment. While it remains to be seen how his role with the Panthers will look like, the expectation is that he will compete for the starting role against incumbent Teddy Bridgewater — if the latter is even kept around in the first place after just one year as Carolina’s QB1.
Nothing is set in stone just yet, but, as noted above, the trade certainly has the potential to shake up the first round of the draft.
With the Jets now in definitive need of a starting quarterback, it seems like a foregone conclusion that quarterbacks will come off the board with the first three selections: the Jacksonville Jaguars are expected to take Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence first overall, with the Jets and 49ers now both safe bets to go quarterback with the two follow-up pick as well.
The Panthers, meanwhile, could very well be out of the QB market as well now. This, in turn, would remove a potential landing spot for one of the top-five passers before New England is on the clock at No. 15 overall. That quarterback group includes not just Lawrence but also Ohio State’s Justin Fields, BYU’s Zach Wilson, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and, a bit behind them, Alabama’s Mac Jones.
While there is no guarantee the Patriots will go after one of them, the path to either moving up one of them falling to the 15th overall selection is now a bit wider open.