Sam Darnold Rumors: AFC Exec Says Browns Will Select USC QB No. 1 in NFL Draft

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2018

Southern California quarterback Sam Darnold throws a pass during USC Pro Day, Wednesday, March 21, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Pro Day is intended to showcase talent to NFL scouts for the upcoming draft. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

An anonymous AFC executive said Wednesday that the Cleveland Browns will select USC quarterback Sam Darnold with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft.

"He's going No. 1," the executive told Albert Breer of The MMQB following Darnold's pro day performance. "Everyone out there today saw the Browns' franchise quarterback."

Cleveland owns the top overall selection, which means it will have its pick of the litter at quarterback in a draft that also includes UCLA's Josh Rosen, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield and Wyoming's Josh Allen.

As seen in the following video courtesy of the NFL, Darnold thrived during his pro day throwing session despite rainy conditions:


#NFLDraft prospect Sam Darnold throws at @USC_Athletics Pro Day! 💪🎯 https://t.co/jSjypkkLaM

Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, a large Browns contingent was on hand to watch Darnold, including general manager John Dorsey, head coach Hue Jackson, offensive coordinator Todd Haley and quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese.

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley once looked like a possibility for Cleveland at No. 1 overall, but the New York Jets' decision to trade up from No. 6 to No. 3 likely threw that option out the window. Since the New York Giants at No. 2 and Jets at No. 3 are both threats to take a quarterback, the Browns essentially must take the one they want first overall.

Darnold is brimming with potential, but there are concerns about him after his play seemingly dropped off last season as a redshirt sophomore. His completion percentage fell from 67.2 percent to 63.1 percent, his passing touchdowns dropped from 31 to 26 and his interceptions increased from nine to 13 when compared to his redshirt freshman campaign.

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All of the quarterbacks in the 2018 draft have their warts, however, and the Browns desperately need to hit on one to reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2002 season.

Cleveland already acquired quarterback Tyrod Taylor in a trade with the Buffalo Bills earlier this month, which means it can afford to have Darnold—or whichever quarterback it selects—sit and learn for one season.

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