USC redshirt sophomore QB Sam Darnold has been incredibly quiet when it comes to his thought process regarding the 2018 NFL Draft. Darnold is eligible to enter the draft this year, but could also stay at USC for another year or two.
Darnold is regarded as one of the top potential prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft, should he decide to enter it. In his first mock draft of the year, ESPN’s Todd McShay believes that Darnold will be the No. 1 overall pick to the Cleveland Browns.
Here is why McShay believes Darnold could be the choice for the Browns:
The Browns have a really good chance to have two picks in the top 10 of this draft. With the No. 1 pick, they must address their QB situation. I believe Rosen is the more polished quarterback right now, but Darnold has the higher ceiling at the next level. We’ve spent a lot of time focusing on Darnold’s questionable decision-making and poor footwork (as well as his being turnover prone), but that was behind a porous offensive line and with a pass-catching corps with a lot of youth. Darnold played very well down the stretch, with nine TDs and only two INTs in his final five games. It isn’t easy to turn down guaranteed money and the potential of being the No. 1 pick, but most talent evaluators think he’d benefit long-term from another year at USC. Darnold will have to make a difficult decision after the Cotton Bowl.
Darnold led the Trojans to an 11-2 record this season and captured the Pac-12 Championship. The redshirt sophomore was thought to be a Heisman Trophy favorite coming into the 2017 season after his performance in the Rose Bowl against Penn State last season. However, his play this season did not earn him a spot to New York and he was out of contention for that award for most of the season.
That being said, Darnold had another solid year for the Trojans, including numerous comeback wins and some excellent play down the stretch. On the year, Darnold completed 63.7 percent of his passes for 3,787 yards and 26 TDs. He also threw 12 interceptions and led the Pac-12 with 19 turnovers.
Despite some poor games and decision making that left scouts questioning his abilities, Darnold was still named first-team All-Pac-12. He has proven himself to be a special player and will likely be a top-5 pick if he enters the draft.
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