Sam Darnold Reportedly May Remain at USC, Not Declare for 2018 NFL Draft

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 5, 2017

FILE - In this Monday, Jan. 2, 2017, file photo, Southern California quarterback Sam Darnold looks to pass during the first half of the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game against Penn State in Pasadena, Calif. Darnold was selected to the Associated Press 2016 All-Bowl Team, announced on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Despite being an early favorite to be the top overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, USC quarterback Sam Darnold may not declare for the event. 

Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com reported from Nike's The Opening football camp, "I also had several sources close to Darnold tell me they wouldn't be surprised if Darnold played two more seasons at USC. As a redshirt sophomore, he can declare for the draft as early as 2018."

Darnold was superb for the Trojans last season, throwing for 3,086 yards, 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 13 appearances. His insertion into the starting lineup in late September against Utah changed USC's season, as the Trojans won their final nine games and lost just once with Darnold under center after starting 1-2.

That put Darnold among the favorites for the Heisman Trophy heading into the 2017 season. Chase Goodbread of NFL.com named him the No. 3 contender for the award, behind only defending Heisman winner Lamar Jackson and Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, while Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus had him at No. 4.

As for next year's draft, B/R's Matt Miller had Darnold at No. 2 on his latest big board behind only Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, while ESPN Insider Mel Kiper Jr. had Darnold at No. 1.

Kiper wrote:

"Darnold has everything NFL teams want in a starter. He has a big frame (6'4" and 225 pounds), makes quick decisions and is an accurate and natural passer. He completed 67.2 percent of his passes last season and ranked second in the nation in Total QBR (86.8). He does have an unorthodox, long delivery, however, that will have to be retooled. And the third-year sophomore has only started 10 games."

Darnold's tools are undeniable. But Jeremiah noted his mentality is just as impressive.

"However, when I asked the coaches/staffers what stood out about Darnold, they each mentioned his humility and willingness to learn," he wrote. "He's always asking questions and he doesn't act like he has all of the answers."