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Looking Back at Jets' Trade Last Year to Draft Sam Darnold

Green & White Got QB of Future; What Has Indy Done with Its 4 Picks in Return?


As the positions of lower-round selections in this year's draft come into focus, so does the balance sheet from last year's predraft trade between the Jets, with the sixth overall pick, and the Colts, sitting at No. 3.

The short story: The Jets gave up a good amount to move up and draft their quarterback of the future, Sam Darnold. To swap ones, the Jets sent to Indianapolis two second-round picks last year, Nos. 37 and 49, and a second-rounder this year, which figures to be No. 34.

According to a popular draft trade value guide, the Jets got a pick worth 2,200 points and gave up picks worth 3,100 points. The minus-900 difference was comparable to what the Rams gave to the Titans for the No. 1 pick in 2016 to take Jared Goff. It was more than what the Eagles paid that same year to the Browns for the No. 2 to select Carson Wentz. And it was far less than what the Redskins sent to the Rams for the No. 2 in 2012 to get Robert Griffin.

"When you're on the clock or near the clock or close to the draft, sometimes there are more suitors for the pick so you have to pay a little more of a premium," Jets GM Mike Maccagnan explained last year. "We paid a good price to move to three, but we felt very good about it. It gave us a chance to get one of the players we liked in the draft, and the way it worked out, we felt very good about Sam being there for us."

The long story of last year's trade was that while the Jets got the signalcaller they hope lifts their franchise to new heights, the Colts got a lot of pieces to help them with their own future.

The first two choices were spent on offensive linemen. Quenton Nelson of Notre Dame, at No. 6, set up shop as Indy's left guard from day one. Auburn G Braden Smith, No. 37, moved to right tackle and started the last 12 games plus two playoff games there.

The pair solidified an O-line that allowed Andrew Luck to throw for 4,593 yards and 39 TDs and get sacked only 18 times — a 2.7% sack rate that was No. 1 in the NFL among qualifying QBs.

The Colts traded the 49th pick to Philadelphia for two picks. With No. 52, they took OLB Kemoko Turay from Rutgers, who played in 14 games with three starts (getting his first pro start against the Jets in Game 6) and finished with four sacks, 13 QB hits and a forced fumble.

And with No. 169 in Round 5, they grabbed RB Jordan Wilkins of Ole Miss, who played in all 16 games with three starts and averaged 5.6 yards/carry on 60 carries.

Finally, Indy will pick near the top of Round 2 in late April. How they'll do remains to be seen, but No. 34s in recent drafts have included DE Demarcus Lawrence to the Cowboys in '14, LB Paul Posluszny to the Bills in '07, LB D'Qwell Jackson to the Browns in '06, and G Chris Snee to the Giants in '04. Each made at least one Pro Bowl.

Not a bad haul for the third overall pick. What's more, the Green & White could have a similar bounty if they desire to trade down from this year's high perch. How the Jets and the NFL have fared when they move down from No. 3 is a topic we'll explore in a story in a few days on

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