In this 2018 NFL Draft profile, get the strengths, weaknesses, and a draft day prediction for quarterback Sam Darnold out of USC.
Heading into the 2018 NFL Draft, the quarterback position is featured as arguably the most in-depth position available. With five possible first-round projected quarterbacks available, one, in particular, sits at the top of some scouts lists as the best. Sam Darnold, a USC product, and top prospect rests as one rookie showcasing as the must-draft rookie in this years class.
A former 2015 redshirt freshmen, Darnold got the starting nod in 2016 where he completed 67.2 percent of his passes for 3,086 yards, 31 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. The young QB would follow that impressive rookie season with a promising yet rocky sophomore campaign. Darnold would complete 63.1 percent of his passes for 4,143 yards, 26 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and 11 fumbles in 2017. A once No. 1 overall projected selection, the Trojan’s draft stock has trickled down the list from first to top-10 due to ball security issues last season.
Spectacular size for an NFL quarterback at 6-4″ 220 pounds. Solid accuracy and timing. Mobile QB. Has the ability to shed sack attempts and throw successfully on the run much like current QBs such as Russell Wilson. Strong in play-action attempts. Deep threat quarterback. Not afraid to squeeze the ball in tight windows. Aggressive style QB. 250 rushing yards with two rushing touchdowns in 2017. Good balance and footwork. Fearless QB whose performance isn’t shifted when the pocket collapses. 57 career touchdowns and 7,229 career passing yards.
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Ball security is the number one concern. 13 interceptions and 11 fumbles last season. 20 interceptions in the last 20 games. 22 total career interceptions over a two-year span as a starter for USC. Rushes throws. Takes sacks instead of throwing the ball away. Risky passer at times. Favors the deep ball rather than the safe check downs for valuable yardage. Tends to avoid sliding when being chased down by defenders. Throws the ball when unbalanced on the run.
DRAFT DAY PREDICTION
A top three QB prospect, Darnold has drawn the comparisons of current NFL QBs such as Andrew Luck. With four teams (Browns, Giants, Broncos, and Jets) in need of a quarterback and picking in the top six selections, (Browns 1 & 4) Darnold will without a doubt be selected somewhere within picks one-six in this year’s draft.