And, just like that, quarterback Sam Darnold has let the world of his intentions to forego his Junior year and enter the 2018 NFL Draft. This past season was widely considered to be a letdown, especially given the torrid pace he finished the 2016 season with. Was this the right decision, though?
The argument could be made that he needs another year to really nail down the mechanics of the quarterback position - after all, he finished the 2016 season with a stat line of 3,086 passing yards, 31 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions. In 2017, aside from passing for over 4,000 yards, every other statistical category saw a regression. His quarterback rating dropped 13 points. His raw QBR dropped 10 points. He threw for 5 more interceptions and 5 less touchdowns. His completion percentage dropped.
This would give some cause for concern - me, though, I am not too worried. Sure, he needs some seasoning, and the right coach (at least a decent coach - which may or may not rule out Cleveland as a good destination), and he needs a good supporting cast - something which I would say plays a huge role in why Darnold struggled most of 2017. He had to play all year behind a shaky offensive line and that paired with losing the likes of Juju Smith-Schuster do not help his cause. This leads me to believe that if he’s in the right situation in the NFL he will be just fine.
The final reason why I think this is the right choice for him is that his stock may never be as high as it is right now. If he were to return to USC he would obviously run the risk of injuring himself or further experiencing a regression in his production on the field - the longer he stays away from the NFL, the more risk there is involved in potentially hurting any financial gain he may have. With several NFL teams in dire need of franchise quarterbacks, why wait? Quarterbacks are always at a premium in the NFL but there are at least six different teams that are in need of a quarterback this offseason.
For Sam Darnold, the time is now. I, for one, am excited to see where he lands and how his career unfolds.
Do you think it is wise for Sam Darnold to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft?
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