NFL Draft News & Analysis

2018 Prospect Preview: USC QB Sam Darnold is the real deal, but has some work to do

  • USC QB Sam Darnold enters the 2017 college football season as a PFF Day 1 projection for the 2018 NFL draft. Darnold took over as Southern California’s QB No. 1 during the Trojan’s fourth game last season against Utah.
  • In 2016, Darnold played well overall, grading as the 19th best quarterback in FBS with a grade of 80.9. Darnold handled pressure as good as any quarterback prospect in the 2016 draft as well as this coming draft, ranking No. 2 in adjusted completion percentage while under pressure at 67.6 percent. He also thrived against the blitz where he ranked No. 1 in adjusted completion percentage at 79.0 percent.
  • Darnold was inconsistent throwing deep in 2016, however. He graded 46th out of 116 qualifiers on deep passes (20 or more yards in air) and ranked 49th on passes thrown 30 or more yards in the air. Darnold ranked just 68th in percentage of big-time throws.

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