Sam Darnold’s NFL Draft Outlook

sam darnold usc trojansWith the 2018 NFL draft rapidly approaching it’s useful to look at quarterback Sam Darnold who passed for 4,143 yards 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in his sophomore year at USC.

Darnold’s decision to declare for the NFL draft was met with criticism after his poor performance at the 2018 Cotton Bowl where the Trojans flopped in 24-7 loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Regardless of the criticism, he proved he’s a winner as he led the Trojans to an 11-3 record and possesses several skills that will be coveted by several NFL teams.

To begin with, it’s important to point out that he’s very good when on the move as he’s capable of relying on his athleticism to find the open receivers and escape pressure.

His accuracy when on the move is outstanding as he can take hits in the middle of the field and tuck and run to scramble past defenders. Although he is a very skilled runner he’s not reckless and knows when to get out of bounds and get down to avoid being hit. He rushed 75 times for 82 yards and five touchdowns.

His arm strength to get the ball to the boundaries of the field on a line is impressive and his physical tools are as good as any quarterback in this class. His deep balls and touch allow him to put up some great passes as he rarely underthrows his wide receivers.

His mechanics come together very well when he has to throw the ball down the field and is good avoiding blitzes as he’s quick on his feet and tough to tackle. He has great arm strength, huge potential and an uncanny leader ability to rally players around him.

Among his problems perhaps one of the biggest ones is that when he’s facing pressure up the middle he regularly overthrows his receivers and misses several throws that he shouldn’t.

Perhaps Darnold’s most infuriating problem is the fact that he holds on to the ball for too long and as a result, he takes unnecessary sacks that caused him to fumble the ball 11 times.

He struggles to hold on to the ball when he’s sacked and as a result, his lack of ball security in the pocket is one of his biggest flaws.

To make matters worse he’s turnover prone. On top of the fumbles, he also gets picked a lot due to his inconsistency and his field vision on passing downs is quite limited as he sticks on his first read too long.

Despite all these flaws, Darnold’s potential and upside are too much and consequently, someone will probably take him in the first round. If he’s put on a run-first offense and is allowed to use his athleticism to make plays instead of having him sitting in the pocket, he could flourish.

The best scenario for him would be to have a team like the New York Giants draft him so he can sit for a year, correct his many flaws and learn behind Eli Manning because he simply is not ready yet to be a starter in the NFL.


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