Sam Darnold downplays facing Browns after team passed on him in draft
Sam Darnold claims that there will be no added significance attached to the game when the New York Jets face the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night. Conceivably, there could be more meaning to the showdown given the Browns opted to select Baker Mayfield with the first pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, not Darnold.
“No, I’m just going to go out there and play ball,” Darnold said Monday when asked if he hopes to send a message to the Browns that they erred in passing on him, via the New York Post.
The belief ahead of the draft earlier this year was that Darnold was the prohibitive favorite to go as the top pick. However, the Browns evidently became more keen on Mayfield as the draft process played out. Mayfield went first to Cleveland and the New York Giants then took Saquon Barkley with the second pick and Darnold landing with the QB-needy Jets with the No. 3 pick.
Darnold, looking to rebound against the Browns after struggling in a Week 2 loss to the Miami Dolphins following an outstanding debut in a Week 1 win, added on Monday that the prestige of being the first-overall selection means little to him.
“I was excited to go anywhere, whoever wanted me, whoever wanted to pick me,” Darnold said. “As a top pick, to me it was a dream come true right when it happened. I wasn’t concerned necessarily with who was picking me but more of where I was going and where I might need to spend the next, for now, three or four years.”
Darnold was also quick to make it clear he harbors no bitterness toward the Browns for passing over him.
“First of all, their owner is a great person,” Darnold said. “The Haslam family are great people. The coaching staff is amazing as well. What coach [Hue] Jackson is capable of and what their whole coaching staff is capable of is nothing short of a championship. I’m really excited to play against them. I have great respect for their coaching staff and the whole organization.”