Scouting Report: Sam Darnold

Is Darnold the best QB in this draft?

NEPD Staff Contributor: Jeff Fidler

Sam Darnold  –  QB  – 6’3+/225  –  USC

 

Background

  • Born June 5th, 1997 (20). From Capistrano Beach, California.
  • Comes from extremely athletic family. From his sister who played volleyball to his grandfather, Dick Hammer. Who acted (former Marlboro Man) & played volleyball & basketball. Sam’s father played football (OL) as well in college.
  • High School – Sam started playing basketball at 5, played in high school & was good enough for one coach to say he would have had a scholarship to college if he focused on just that – Played football in high school. LB, WR & eventually excelled at QB. SR year throwing for over 3000 yards & rushing for 800 yards. Passing for 39 & running for 13.
  • Has USC tradition in his blood & clearly loves the school.
  • Took a redshirt in 2015. Broke out 2016 throwing for 3086 yds, 67.2 cmp%, 161.1 rtg, 31 TD/8 INT. Rushing for 250 & 2 TD’S. Followed by a 63.1 cmp%, 4,143 yds, 26 TD/13 INT 148.1 rtg. Rushing for 82 & 5 TD’S.

Strengths

  • Very Good Size, H/W proportioned at 6’4/225. Frame you mold & work with.
  • Pre-Snap – Will audible, recognize coverage & adjust to take advantage. Either deep, for big chunks or safe yards. Quick, accurate, strikes from studying DB’S/LB’s tendencies. Has the eyes & quick processing ability to take advantage w/ audibles. See’s the big picture of what the defense is trying to hide. Post-Snap – Will look off & hold S’s, move LB’s out of the box. Gives shoulder, head pump fakes to move defenders. Knows where everyone is (Esp his WR’S) or should be, including the other team. Ran tons of R.P.O.’S in which he demonstrated ability to hurt a defense Pre/Post snap & take advantage on the ground or through air. Very good play action.
  • Arm Talent – Has good strength. Very good touch & accuracy. Will adjust velocity speed if needed on certain passes. At times shows special touch, placement & throws a “Bend it like Beckham” ball where he fits it’s in impossible windows. Throws his targets open rather than waiting or needing a window.
  • Playmaker – Taking advantage of the defense pre-snap, scrambling & making a play, rushing for a 1st down etc. Darnold is a playmaker. Doesn’t need perfect platform to make accurate passes. Might not “rushing QB” but at the next level but can def can pick up easy, unaccounted for yards & even take advantage of his legs at times.
  • Can work all 3 levels but shows great promise in the short/intermediate game where he can fire out quick, accurate strikes. Shows consistent touch & good placement on deep passes to. Hits sidelines & m.o.f. w/ very nice anticipation.
  • Shows very good poise & awareness. Isn’t afraid of the big stage. Doesn’t panic. Will scramble while eyes look for a play. Will side set & step up to avoid pressure.
  • Understands importance of situational football. Very good in the red zone & 3rd down.
  • Looks like a natural leader out there & it shows w/ other players around him. Commands huddle & stands ground in the pocket.

 

Concerns

  • Footwork is probably his biggest flaw although many will point to his delivery. It all starts with your feet & Darnold’s are really bad at times. There are plenty of throws where he’s feet are extended out like a jumping jack & he’s parallel to the l.o.s. , times where he’s almost off the ground throwing & times where his feet aren’t pointed at his target. He’s made incredible throws w/ terrible footwork but NFL players are too good to gamble w/.
  • Throwing motion is Leftwich-like. Shoots from the hip & result is elongated delivery. Ball shoots out quick once he’s set but it’s not ideal & NFL athletes will touch some passes as a result. At times WR’S would have to adjust & come back for some passes. Muscle memory has to be altered but it’s possible. Doesn’t have to be drastic, just a little tinkering would help a lot.
  • Thinks he can throw through some defenders. At times decision making is questionable, accuracy takes a hit & results are too many turnovers.
  • Arm Strength isn’t a problem but combined w/ delivery, might be an issue against NFL athletes.

 

Summary

As QB prospects goes Darnold is intriguing as it gets. He has the intangibles, arm talent & playmaking skills to be a franchise QB. Only 20, Darnold has been making jaw dropping throws & commanding his offense since 19. His potential is scary if cleans up his footwork & tweaks his delivery. He’s a smart young man & knows what it takes to win. I believe he’ll learn to trust his teammates & is savvy enough to understand he can’t win every game by himself. Take the safe stuff, what the defense gives you or throw it away. Ideally the USC product sits for a year or two to work on his very few flaws. He’s worth the wait & investment of lottery pick.

 

Pro Comp

Cross between Carson Palmer & Andrew Luck

 

Here are Darnold’s Traits That Translate to the next level. Among other things these clips show off his …

Poise – Ability to create w/out a perfect pocket – Unique ability to put a ball in a certain spot – Very good accuracy & overall playmaking style.

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 Responses to “Scouting Report: Sam Darnold”

  1. brandonmaxham says:

    mock draft trade version : 1st traded to DET for 2nd and 3rd . 2nd(SF) traded to CLE for 2nd(PHI) and 7th .

    2nd : Duke Ejiofor DE

    2nd : M.J Stewart CB

    2nd : Uchenna Nwosu LB

    3rd :Dalton Schultz TE

    3rd :Brandon Parker OT

    4th: Logan Woodside QB

    6th :Troy Apke S

    7th :Boston Scott RB

    • steve earle says:

      This might be a good trade scenario but I’m having trouble figuring at what numbers these picks acquired would fall. I could go to the trouble of figuring them out but I’m hoping you’ll save me the trouble and post them for me please?

  2. Stephen J says:

    For those of you who like Marcus Davenport I have someone who is his near clone athletically but needs more time to develop.

    Meet Ade Aruna

    ……………….Marcus Davenport………….Ade Aruna
    Height……….6’5 6/8″………………………6’4 5/8″
    Weight………264 lbs………………………..262
    Arm L……….33 5/8″………………………..34″
    Wingspan…..80 5/8″………………………..80″
    40……………4.58……………………………4.60
    10 split……..1.63……………………………1.60
    Bench……….22………………………………18*
    Vert………….33.5″…………………………..38.5″
    Broad………..10′ 4″………………………….10′ 8″
    3 Cone……….7.20…………………………..7.53
    20 Shuttle…..4.41…………………………..4.48
    * Benched with a dislocated finger

    Some notes: has a degree in homeland security and is also studying to earn a degree in public health and tropical medicine.He is former a basketball player who started playing football his senior year of HS.he shows discipline, has first-step quickness. he was kicked inside and played out of position his senior yr due to a scheme change which derailed his development/progress and limited his stats production but gave him experience playing on the inside.

    He played in The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl one scout noted this when he was there during the week. He is a Nigerian native who was disruptive all week, has nice burst off the snap. While skilled as a natural pass rusher, he’s solid against the run and was consistently in the back field all week. While raw has great upside

    Here is one of those plays during the game.
    He is 91 White. He lines up in a 2 pt stance outside the LT is patient setting the edge then flies to the ball carrier to make the tackle.

    https://twitter.com/GreenWaveFB/status/954832846425939968

    While he may need time to develop he has the tools and skills necessary to be a quality starter.

  3. Mike Gerken says:

    Darnold is young and you see that in his decision making, but you also see the talent. The throwing motion is a bit of an issue, but nothing I would try to change. I agree with you that with some better footwork, the throwing motion won’t be a big deal.

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