For the love of the Trojan Horse: Sam Darnold
There were reports early in the season that Buffalo loves Darnold. If this is proven to be true, perhaps the Bills package together a plethora of picks to go get their guy.
Darnold started the year as the best quarterback prospect but had a shaky start to his season and the gap was quickly closed. Yet, he’s still in contention to be, not only the first QB off the board but also, the number one pick overall.
The former USC product took over as the Trojans starter after the team got off to a 1-2 start in 2016. The team went undefeated the rest of the season ultimately leading to a 52-49 victory against Penn State to win the Rose Bowl.
The young Californian was near perfect in his redshirt freshman season. He tossed for 3,086 yards and 31 touchdowns, while only throwing nine interceptions. Accuracy proved to be a selling feature in the young quarterback’s game as he completed 67.2% of his passes. Fast forward to this past season and the numbers weren’t as glorious. Darnold threw five fewer touchdowns and four more picks with four extra starts.
But stats aren’t everything.
Darnold still looked good on tape and has the intangibles to be a great quarterback in the league despite the dip in his numbers. He’s mobile, accurate, and makes strong decisions with the football. Not to mention he is among the best in the country when throwing on the run— and with the poor execution in the Bills’ pass-protection this season, Darnold’s skill set is a good fit.
Darnold significantly improved as the season went along. After throwing an interception in each of his first six games, the Trojan QB improved his play significantly. Nine of Darnold’s 13 interceptions came in the first six weeks of the season. Starting week seven, the USC passer began torching defenses.
Since October 14th Darnold threw for 2,438 yards, 14 touchdowns, and just four interceptions. USC was invited to play in the Cotton Bowl this year against college powerhouse Ohio State. Despite the 24-7 loss, USC’s star quarterback dazzled against the top-notch defensive front as he provided an aerial attack which saw him eclipse the 300-yard mark—325-yards in total.
Darnold has a fairly high ceiling. He has all the intangibles to be a franchise quarterback eventually but he needs time to adjust to the pro-style game. The only question that remains is whether or not the Bills want to give up the farm to go up and get him.