Sam Darnold has the chance to be taken No. 1 overall in this years NFL Draft. He is described as being one of the top four quarterbacks in this class among the likes of Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, and Josh Rosen. Here are Darnold’s strengths, weakness, updates, and projections before he suits up Thursday night in Dallas.
Height: 6 foot 3 inches
Weight: 220 lbs
Hands: 9 3/8’’
Based on Darnold’s measurements alone he can be a starting NFL quarterback. His durability that comes along with that is another one of his strong suits, he can take a hit without having to go to the sideline.
40 Yard Dash: 4.85 seconds
Vertical Jump: 26.5 inches
Broad Jump: 105.0 inches
3 Cone Drill: 6.96 seconds
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.4 seconds
While Darnold has NFL caliber size, it doesn’t hinder him when it comes to mobility. He was listed a dual threat coming out of high school and used it to his advantage to unsuspecting defenders in college. If he wants to run he will run, and with decent speed and quickness he can beat you with his legs as well as his arm.
Sam Darnold TD Run ties the game vs WMU at 21 in the 3rd QTR pic.twitter.com/mOHcm4esxr— NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) September 2, 2017
Changes From Combine to Pro Day
While Darnold chose not to throw at the combine it certainly didn’t hurt his draft stock. He had the best pro day of the top quarterbacks and he did it in the pouring rain. Scouts and teams flocked to see the former Trojan back at his old stomping grounds and Darnold put on a show. He was accurate, quick, and his deep ball was oh so pretty.
It was pouring rain, but that didn't stop Sam Darnold from throwing dimes at his Pro Day. pic.twitter.com/Wj7YARyOG3— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 21, 2018
The biggest thing Darnold said he would be working on in the offseason was improving his hip movement.
Per Joey Kaufman, Darnold’s trainer Jordan Palmer explained the reason behind working on hip motion,
“I want this hip to be in front of the shoulder when the throw is finished...Your core is the strongest, most coordinated, most explosive muscle group in the body, I want to incorporate that and use all that energy, so firing my hip creates that energy.”
Darnold has stated that while he is working on his hip, he will not be changing his throwing motion that some call to elongated.
What made Darnold so fun to watch in college was his ability to evade pressure and still make the throw. There were countless times where the pocket collapsed around him and he rolled, spun, even jumped to make an eyebrow raising throw into his receiver’s or running back’s hands. His instinct and awareness is unparalleled it almost seems as if he throws better when having to roll out than not.
This is why people fall in love with Sam Darnold. Amazing athlete that can do crazy things when the game is on the line. Throws as well as anyone on the run and has the talent to drop the ball anywhere he wants.#SamDarnold #NFLDraft #USC pic.twitter.com/LmLOMxFfmv— John Chapman (@JL_Chapman) February 11, 2018
Darnolds biggest flaw is his lack of fear. There isn’t a throw he isn’t willing to make, whether it’s double or triple coverage. If he thinks he can make it he will try and that is what gave him a lot of his interceptions last season. His interception count from 2016 to 2017 went from nine to thirteen and most of the ones in his last season were because the luck meter didn’t swing his way. As stated previously Darnold also isn’t afraid to tuck it and run, but it’s the tucking it that gets him in trouble or lack of.
We saw him hold on to the ball one handed like he might be thinking of dumping it off, which in turn made us see him fumble it. Darnold will try and do to much if his team is getting desperate, he needs to learn there are some things that are okay not to attempt.
Sam Darnold throws an interception!— Barstool Irish (@BarstoolIrish) October 22, 2017
(This tweet was previously scheduled) pic.twitter.com/uJbnI8kHyi
Fumble for Darnold despite not being touched. He has to have small hands for this to happen so many times this season. pic.twitter.com/glJKTFpHKO— Corner Handbook Out Now (@NFLFilmStudy) November 12, 2017
Best Performance as a Trojan
Rose Bowl 2017: USC 52 Penn State 49
It’s hard to argue that this game wasn’t the greatest of Darnold’s short career. It had all the big time factors, huge stage, amazing throws, and a storybook ending. He was also just a redshirt freshman in only his 10th start. This is where the whole country really saw what a game manager the red head from USC was. MVP Darnold broke Rose Bowl records with 453 yards and five touchdowns (breaking Vince Young’s record). Enough words though, I will let the visuals do the talking.
Situationally Darnold makes some of the best plays of all the QBs. Here you see him navigate a collapsing pocket, look back over his shoulder, sprint right and throw a frozen rope right at the sticks. Oh yeah he’s down 7 w/ under 2 minutes left in the rose bowl. #gamer pic.twitter.com/bOt9pHTuSI— Branman (@Branmancanjam) April 9, 2018
Darnold will almost certainly go in the top three of the NFL Draft, if not No. 1 overall. He is a player that will thrive in any situation and can play in any climate. Darnold can manage the clock as good as anyone and does well in “two minute like” situations. A team that will allow him to manage the game, roll out, and call run-pass options will get the best that Darnold has to offer.