Sam Darnold NFL Draft 2018: Scouting Report for New York Jets' Pick

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 27, 2018

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 29:  Sam Darnold #14 of the USC Trojans looks for an open receiver against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium on December 29, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images


—Darnold's toughness and football IQ are what sell scouts on his ability and potential.

—Operated in an offense that asked him to make full-field reads from the pocket and often from a snap under center. Has excellent field vision and a quick processor.

—His touch accuracy on short and intermediate routes stands out as a strength, and he routinely shows good anticipation and puts the ball ahead of the receiver.

—Despite having a long release, Darnold can deliver the ball with velocity and can speed up his motion to get the ball into tight windows or throw with anticipation. He's able to throw from multiple angles and create on the move.

—He has the personality to thrive in any environment, and coaches praise his work ethic and leadership.

—Darnold isn't blazing fast, but he will lower his shoulder and run over defenders.



—He lets the ball get on top of his hand and drops his elbow to his waistline on throws.

—There are times on film when the long release allows defenders to jump his routes and create turnovers.

—Darnold turned the ball over 24 times in 2017 (13 INTs, 11 fumbles) and has a history of flipping the field.

—At times, Darnold tries to do too much and forces passes into windows that aren't there. In the pocket, he could improve his feel for defenders and better use his athleticism to make plays.


GRADE: 7.20 (Round 1)




As the talent at USC took a dip in 2017, Darnold's turnovers rose, but he never let it affect his demeanor. He's poised, smart, tough and incredibly coachable. Darnold projects as a starter in his second season and has a high NFL ceiling given his mental and physical skills.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.