Sam Darnold focusing on fitting in, earning respect as rookie
Sam Darnold understands the pressure thrust upon him by the New York Jets selecting him with the third overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. But the young signal-caller at this point is solely focused on fitting in and understanding his place as a rookie.
“I love spending time in here, being able to absorb as much information as I can, because I’m coming in here and I don’t know anything,” Darnold told reporters Friday before his first minicamp practice, via ESPN.
Darnold said his top priority is learning the playbook and remaining poised in practice. While veteran Josh McCown is penciled in as the Jets’ Week 1 starter — not to mention the presence of Teddy Bridgewater and Christian Hackenberg in in the quarterbacks’ room — much can change between May and September.
Regardless of when the Jets hand over the reins to Darnold, the 20-year-old is eager for the challenge and recognizes that being drafted as an expected franchise quarterback brings with it enormous challenges and expectations.
“I embrace that,” Darnold said. “But I understand every single day is a process. You have to come in here and earn respect. I’m not going to come in here and demand it.
“I just have to come in here understanding the position I’m in. I’m a rookie — I understand that — but at the same time, I’m a quarterback, and I have to be a leader on the field and off it as well.”
Reports have surfaced since the draft that the Jets quickly became enamored with Darnold throughout the process of determining which quarterback to select. Word has also recently come down suggesting the Jets are warming to the possibility of tabbing Darnold as the team’s starting quarterback as soon as Week 1. That said, it’s slow going for now. Although Darnold appreciates how warmly he’s been received by the team.
“It’s just really cool how excited they are about me being here,” Darnold said. “It’s really awesome to have that feeling, that you feel wanted. Whether I’m wanted or not, I’m going to come in here and do my thing.”