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New York Jets name No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold Week 1 starter at Lions

September 3, 2018

The Jets confirmed No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold will be the starter when they visit Detroit on Monday night in Week 1.

The 20-year-old USC product emerged from a three-man QB battle that included incumbent starter Josh McCown and feel-good story Teddy Bridgewater, who was traded last week to the Saints, helping Gang Green recoup part of the draft haul it sent to the Colts for the right to move up three spots and land Darnold this spring.

At 21 years and 97 days old on Monday, Darnold will become the youngest Week 1 starter behind center since the merger, passing Drew Bledsoe, who was 21 years and 203 days old when the No. 1 overall pick in 2003 debuted for the Patriots.

The Jets, unlike their four counterparts that drafted Round 1 quarterbacks this year — including their division rivals in Buffalo, who confirmed Monday that No. 7 overall pick Josh Allen would begin as QB2 behind Nate Peterman — saw enough in the preseason from Darnold to decide the future is now.

Darnold completed 29-of-45 passes for 244 yards, two TDs and 1 TD, good for a 83.9 passer rating, in the exhibition season. The stakes obviously raise Monday night in Motown, but unlike the Bills’ killer early-season slate, the Jets is more manageable with a home game vs. the Dolphins and visit to Cleveland in Week 3 before traveling to face a dangerous Jaguars ‘D’ before the calendar turns to October.

Darnold also has a bit more to work with and to help him do so, pass catchers like Jermaine Kearse, Robby Anderson and Terrelle Pryor, and an experienced front wall that includes LT Kelvin Beachum and RT Brian Winters.

No, the Jets don’t appear to have the makings to quickly become a juggernaut on offense behind Darnold, but they have at least a slightly more enviable setup than the Bills, the only other club among the five to draft first-round QBs lacking an established starter.

As for the 3-year-old McCown, who parlayed a career season in Year 15 into a one-year, $10 million deal, he goes back to being a well-paid — and well-kempt — backup.

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