“I don’t know nothing about drafting a quarterback or anything like that, but I thought he was the No. 1 pick, for sure,” Miller told New York area reporters Wednesday on a conference call.
Miller, who faces Darnold and the New York Jets on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, became the latest defensive star to praise the rookie quarterback. In the preseason, Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman spoke effusively of Darnold.
“I thought he was the best offensive player in the draft,” Miller said. “He’s a great quarterback. He’s been playing well. They haven’t been coming up with the wins, but he’s playing really well.”
Actually, Darnold has been the NFL’s lowest-rated passer (63.8) over the past three weeks — all losses for the Jets (1-3). Perhaps Miller, a savvy veteran, was engaging in some gamesmanship.
Miller sent mixed signals, saying Mayfield was “rightfully” the top pick. But he quickly added, “In my opinion, just watching everything from a pass-rusher’s point of view, I just feel like he was the No. 1 pick in the draft. He wasn’t the No. 1 pick, but he’s definitely playing like it.”
Darnold smiled when Miller’s comments were relayed to him.
“I mean, it’s a good feeling; I’m not going to lie. But at the same time, I can’t worry about that,” Darnold said. “But when people like that have high praise for me or they’re saying cool things, it’s obviously very flattering.”
One of Darnold’s most impressive traits, Miller said, is his ability to escape pressure. In that respect, he said Darnold is nothing like Miller’s former teammate Peyton Manning.
“As a pass-rusher, you want a guy who will fall when you get to him, kind of like how Peyton was,” Miller said with a laugh. “That’s exactly what you want. When you get close to him and you get ready to touch him, just falls. Sam, he’s not like that. He’s going to create space and get the ball downfield. Rightfully so. He’s a playmaker.”
Darnold has been sacked 10 times in four starts, but he also has displayed the ability to make plays outside the pocket. He also has struggled in recent weeks, with only two touchdowns and four interceptions in the past three games.
Darnold believes he’s “on the edge” of a breakout game.
“It’s going to click soon,” Darnold said.