It was a bittersweet goodbye for the Trojan Family when Sam Darnold left Los Angles for the NFL Draft. With multiple season of eligibility left, some USC faithful wished they could have had their Rose Bowl and Pac-12 winning quarterback for at least another year. Though on Monday when Darnold was officially announced as the head of his new team, Trojan fans couldn’t have been more proud.
There is no denying that Sam Darnold was impressive during his first NFL preseason. Through three games, the rookie was 29-of-45 (64.4 percent), threw for 244 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.
He also showcased the thing that many attribute to be his greatest quality, his ability to extend the play. Darnold’s mobility helped USC to many a first down, and it will serve the Jets in the same way.
The perfect ball he is able to throw on the run, the ability to step up in the pocket to evade a sack, are weapons the Jets haven’t seen in a long time.
The poise Darnold showed in preseason will be tested when he goes up against a the full might of the AFC East, facing the defenses of the New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, and Buffalo Bills.
He will also be the youngest player to ever start in Week 1, Darnold will 21 years and 97 days old when he puts on the pads Monday night against the Detroit Lions.
“I really think Sam [Darnold] is going to be one of the great quarterbacks in the National Football League.”@TonyRomo joins @TikiAndTierney to explain which rookie QB he thinks will succeed this season. pic.twitter.com/1nbUH9TTWT— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) August 28, 2018
After the Jets traded Teddy Bridgewater to the New Orleans Saints last week, they are left with veteran Josh McCown as the only backup quarterback on roster. Bridgewater and Darnold seemed to be neck and neck in training camp, though Darnold’s ceiling and trusted evasion skills had coaches wrapped around his finger.
On why head coach Todd Bowles went with the rookie Darnold, he stated the USC product gives the Jets “a good chance to win.” Darnold’s pocket presence was also mentioned as one of the reasons Bowles will be going with him instead of the more experienced McCown.
Per Rich Cimini of ESPN, Bowles explained the difference between McCown and Darnold, “[McCown] is smarter, playing in the league longer, but Sam picks things up very well. It’s good to have a quarterback who can throw and move with his feet.”