Oct 15, 2016; Tucson, AZ, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold (14) throws a pass against the Arizona Wildcats during the first half at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
There’s already talk about teams, including the New York Jets, tanking their season for USC quarterback Sam Darnold in 2017. Here are the top five reasons the Jets should avoid doing such a thing.
It makes no sense for the New York Jets to tank an entire season to get the probable No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Sam Darnold.
He showed poise in the pocket, mobility, accuracy and the ability to run a pro-style offense. However, he was a redshirt freshman. That means he has plenty of time to grow into the position.
Darnold may or may not be ready come the end of the 2018 season. You may like him now, but we have a year to watch him play.
Let’s examine this situation with Darnold and realize that the Jets shouldn’t tank for a quarterback that is relatively unknown due to such a small sample size.
Next: 5. Underperforming late in the season
Sep 3, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold (14) in action during the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at AT&T Stadium. Alabama defeats USC 52-6. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
5. Underperforming late in the season
By the time the USC season begins to wind down, the NFL season will be in full force. In fact, when he’s playing his last five college games prior to the College Football Playoff, if you include the Pac-12 Championship Game, the Jets will already be seven games in.
There’s a chance that the NFL Draft pressure could get to him. What if he has poor games in Tempe, AZ, Boulder, CO and the two final home games?
Even worse, what if he has just three bad games on the road against Colorado., at home against UCLA, and in the Pac-12 Championship Game? Those games could prove he’s not quite ready for the limelight.
It’s not good to go into the NFL like that. It would show he needs more time in college.
Next: 4. An inconsistent 2017 season
Oct 15, 2016; Tucson, AZ, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold (14) dives forward against the Arizona Wildcats during the first half at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
4. An inconsistent 2017 season
What if Darnold has an inconsistent 2017 season? His good 2016 season may be a result of teams not knowing his strengths and weaknesses.
Once the better teams in the Pac-12 figure that out, it may be to his detriment. His performances could end up being like a roller coaster.
He could play well for two weeks, then bad the next. Then he could play great for a week and go on a bad stretch.
He might not be worthy of the No. 1 overall pick at that point. Then, what should the Jets do, move down or draft someone else? It’s way too early to assume anything because who knows where the Jets will be when Darnold is eligible for the draft.
Next: 3. A sub-par 2017
Nov 28, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) drops back to pass the ball during the 2nd half of a game against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
3. A sub-par 2017
He could just take a step back for the entirety of 2017. Darnold’s performance in 2017 may not come close to 2016.
Would you want the Jets to take a risk at No. 1, then? There could be mitigating circumstances that lead to poor performance, and those could be even riskier.
It’s one thing to take a risk in the second round with Christian Hackenberg or take one in the fourth round like they did with Bryce Petty. It a completely different thing to take a risk at No. 1 overall.
At No. 1 overall, you have a to be as sure as you can be that you’re landing a franchise quarterback. After a sub-par 2017, the Jets should not take that risk.
Next: 2. Injury
Dec 24, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) is carted off of the field following a leg injury during the third quarter of an NFL Football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Football is a collision sport, and that means injuries are bound to happen. Darnold is not excused from that possibility.
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Like bad performance, it could happen late in the regular season, or, during the College Football Playoff. If it were to happen in the CFP, it would be after the NFL season is already over, and that would be too late to.
Injuries are a fact of like in football and any level. As the season progresses, Jets fans will have to hope Darnold doesn’t get injured, and that’s a precarious spot to be in.
Darnold’s athleticism is a blessing and a curse. He can get flushed out of the pocket, and become vulnerable to injuries.
Next: 1. Eligibility
Darnold graduated from high school in 2015, and the NFL requires you to be three years removed from high school to enter the NFL Draft. With that said, he redshirted in 2015.
Redshirting is a tool college players use to be on the team but not play and not use eligibility. That means last season was Darnold’s redshirt freshman season.
So, Darnold can stay at USC in 2018 and 2019, if he wants to. That means we shouldn’t count our chickens before they hatch.
You know what happens when we make assumptions. So, we shouldn’t assume Darnold will be in the 2018 NFL Draft, especially when he just might love college and playing in the city of angels.