Many questions surround the decisions by USC quarterback Sam Darnold after he announced his decision to declare for the NFL Draft. Darnold recently finished his sophomore season, which ended in a tough loss to Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl.
Darnold was considered to be the Heisman favorite at the beginning of the season he ended up throwing for 17 less touchdowns and seven more interceptions than the Heisman winner, Baker Mayfield. On top of that, sustaining a bad loss in his second college bowl game, where he threw for no touchdowns and had one pick 6.
Even though there are multiple reasons why it makes sense for Darnold to leave, his draft stock is not as high as it could be and that might be a bad start to his professional career. Here are a two other reasons why I think his decision doesn’t make sense.
His Stats Were Worse This Year Than Last
Darnold scored lower in nearly every single statistical category this season than he did last season. Most noticeably he threw for less touchdowns and more interceptions. He also had a lower completions percentage and was sacked almost five times as much as he was last season.
The only two major categories that he did better in this season was yards per attempt, and throwing yards. The first game this season against Western Michigan, the Trojans were expected to win handsomely. With all eyes on Darnold, he threw for two interceptions and no touchdowns in a game that was closer than it should have been.
Based on his stats alone, Darnold has not been able to show that he is able to play consistently over the course of multiple seasons.
Ending on a Sour Note
One important thing to analyze for a future NFL player is how they play in big games. Last years Rose Bowl game was an amazing bright spot for Darnold. Throwing for 453 yards, 5 touchdowns, 20 rushing yards, and only one interception. He was able to beat a higher ranked team, and he looked like a Heisman caliber talent.
Although it was a very different story in this year’s Cotton Bowl. Darnold threw for no touchdowns and one interception that was a pick-six. He also threw for 100 less yards. It does go without saying that Ohio State was a tougher opponent, but to an NFL scout it’s numbers on a page. If he were to stay, Darnold could get another crack at a bowl game and potentially go to the NFL off of a solid victory
. A similar situation to former University of Hawaii Quarterback Colt Brennan. After a record breaking season, an embarrassing loss in the sugar bowl caused his draft stock to drop. Hopefully the same doesn’t happen to Darnold.