Browns draft profile: USC quarterback Sam Darnold

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 29: Sam Darnold (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 29: Sam Darnold (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) /

USC’s Sam Darnold seems to be the favorite as the top overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft class. But what about him has scouts in such awe of his NFL potential?

Since almost the beginning of 2017, USC’s Sam Darnold has garnered attention to be 2018’s top overall pick. With the Browns once again in the driver’s seat for this draft, Darnold has been linked to Cleveland since the season’s end.

After finishing 0-16 in 2017, and 1-31 under Hue Jackson overall, the Browns are in need of a major pick-me-up. A good leader for a young team, along with an electric playmaker, and a quarterback with a good mix of floor and ceiling as a player.

Of course, that seems to be Darnold in this class. But…why? What has scouting departments all over the league buzzing about Darnold’s performance and future in the league? Let’s break it down.

Accuracy and Precision:

WalterFootball’s scouting report describes Darnold as follows:

"“An accurate pocket passer who throws with good ball placement and is very precise in the short to intermediate part of the field.” — Charlie Campbell, Walter Football"

Needless to say, accuracy is the main concern when evaluating for the next level. Under most circumstances, accuracy is not something that coaches can teach or fix. Rather, it is something that a quarterback either has or doesn’t have.

Fortunately for the Browns, Darnold has accuracy in spades, especially in the shorter and medium range of the field. Against Stanford in 2017, Darnold showcased just how pinpoint his arm can be when he’s “on.”

Throwing 26 passes for 21 completions and 316 yards, Darnold posted an 80.8 percent completion rating against the Cardinal. Darnold threw for four touchdowns during the win against Stanford, and showcased his abilities that would characterize the rest of his season.

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Darnold would go on to have a 63.1 percent completion rating on the year. Throwing for over 4,000 yards, Darnold made sure to make noise throughout the NCAA this season.

Turnover Problems:

If there is one aspect to Sam Darnold’s game that needs the most work, it is his problem with turnovers. Darnold has struggled with interceptions and fumbles throughout his entire college career, and 2017 was no different.

Although Darnold did throw 26 touchdowns last season, he also threw 13 interceptions. And, while a 2:1 ratio is not horrible at the college level, it is not ideal for a No. 1 pick. However, there is one key for Darnold that could solve this turnover problem.

Darnold’s throwing motion is just a bit off, as evident in this video from the Performance Lab of California:

Darnold’s mechanics are just a bit off, but if he has the right coaching staff to iron out the kinks, he will be likely better served in the turnover department.

Overall, Sam Darnold is just the right amount of “ready” mixed with the right amount of “raw.” He may need a year to sit, but the Browns will have Tyrod Taylor and Drew Stanton likely starting over him in 2018.

Next: Browns: On the Clock at No. 4

Darnold is a prototypical quarterback who will almost certainly be the Browns’ first overall pick. And, while he needs some work, he could be absolutely lethal for any team that drafts him.