It's the unanswerable question, but - come draft time - several teams, probably including the Jets, are going to have to come up with an answer. There's a handful of candidates to be high picks in this year's draft, each with things to like about them but also with some concerns. Which is the best, though?
Let's attempt to rate each of the top five prospects in five key categories to try and determine which one has the best pro potential.
We'll rank the players in each category, assigning points based on their ranking from 1 to 5. Obviously, the player with the lowest overall score is our top prospect. In practice, each team will weigh each category differently as they decide which potential weaknesses they are prepared to overlook...
There perhaps isn't a strong correlation between arm strength and NFL success, but we know scouts love it. Aaron Rodgers proves what a strong-armed quarterback can be capable of, but you need to be the full package to have pro success. If not, you could just end up being the next Mike Vick - or even Kyle Boller.
Josh Allen scores a big win in this category as his arm is extremely impressive when throwing deep and also when putting zip onto tight window throws. He even showcases his arm strength when on the move:
The rest of the top five are more closely bunched together, but we have Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson down at the bottom as they each have a tendency to wind-up before launching a downfield throw. Josh Rosen is the best of the rest, with Sam Darnold in third. All five are in the plus category for arm strength though.
Rankings: Allen 1st, Rosen 2nd, Darnold 3rd, Mayfield 4th, Jackson 5th.
This is Jackson's best category. He's a dual threat with elite playmaking ability, even though he's wisely focused on becoming more of a pocket passer. Some coaches will see having to tweak their system for Jackson as a negative, while others will invite the extra dimension brought by his ability to do things like this:
Allen ranks as second-best due to his innate ability to break away from tacklers. Allen is stronger than the other four candidates and can make plays with his legs or shrug off potential tacklers to extend plays and enable routes to develop.
Mayfield is more athletic but often uses his scrambling abilities to set up passing opportunities. With his lack of size, he needs to use his footwork to create passing angles and does this well, although he perhaps vacates the pocket prematurely sometimes.
Darnold is no slouch with his legs, racking up five rushing touchdowns this year to give him the edge over Rosen.
Ranks: Jackson 1, Allen 2, Mayfield 3, Darnold 4, Rosen 5
In this category, it's close for the top spot between Mayfield and Rosen, but we're giving the edge to Rosen for his downfield accuracy, which is documented here. Mayfield is very consistent with his timing and ball placement, but Rosen dazzles with his ability to make tight window throws like this:
Darnold finds himself in the middle of the pack due to his lack of consistency over the course of the season, while Jackson edges out Allen for last place, having improved his accuracy over the course of his collegiate career. Allen finishes last due to his tendency to misfire on makeable throws.
Ranks: Rosen 1, Mayfield 2, Darnold 3, Jackson 4, Allen 5
Mayfield gets the edge in this category. He had a variety of options and spread the ball around well on his way to a Heisman Trophy and a playoff berth.
Darnold also impresses with his ability to progress through his reads and find the right option, like he does on this play:
Rosen is good in this category too, although maybe his over-reliance on Jordan Lasley in the showdown against Darnold's USC suggests he might lock onto his primary target too often in the pros.
Once again, Jackson and Allen find themselves down the bottom. Jackson is getting better in this area, but Allen has a tendency to force too many throws. Maybe that will improve at the next level if he's paired with some quality pass-catching weapons.
Ranks: Mayfield 1, Darnold 2, Rosen 3, Jackson 4, Allen 5
Jackson is an impressive individual with outstanding character. Who can forget him emotionally thanking his mother for being his inspiration and mentor during his Heisman speech? He's worked extremely hard to improve every year at the aspects of his game that he needed to play at the pro level but lacked when he first became the starter at Louisville.
Allen is also a high character individual and teams will no doubt have been impressed by how he graduated early so that he was eligible to compete in the Senior Bowl despite entering the draft as a junior.
Darnold finds himself in the middle of the pack again but has no real character concerns. Each of the other five had one category where they ranked either first or last but Darnold did not, probably because of the major dip in form he suffered during the middle part of the year. This is pretty eye-opening considering how the media were trying to paint him as some kind of can't miss consensus top pick early in the year.
Rosen, however, is a player who has courted controversy with some of his comments and has a reputation for having issues with his attitude and dedication. However, some have suggested he has matured over the last year.
Mayfield has a couple of issues though. He is shorter and older than the other five candidates and was arrested during the offseason. He also got suspended by his team for this sideline gesture:
Right, so now let's add up the scores to get a definitive answer as to which of these five is the best prospect and the guy the Jets should target. Remember the lower your score, the better you are...