Darnold is currently under center for the USC Trojans. Last year’s Rose Bowl was his coming out party. Darnold finished the thrilling 52-49 win going 33 of 53 for 453 yards. Along the way, he set Rose Bowl records in passing touchdowns (5) and total yards (473). Before, Darnold was a rising starter on a powerhouse team. After Pasadena, he was propelled into number-one-overall-selection discussions.
He’s going to be a raw prospect, there’s no doubt about that. But a 6′ 4″, 225 lb. frame accelerates Darnold’s readiness for the NFL. He thrives in the pocket, but can be equally as dominant on the move. His arm will continue to get stronger, and his IQ will continue to increase. The biggest obstacle in getting Darnold is draft positioning.
Darnold can enter the 2018 NFL Draft as a top-5 prospect, but can also choose to play in his senior season and enter the 2019 NFL Draft, where he would also be a top-5 prospect. That puts New Orleans at a disadvantage, as the team is keen on winning big these next two or so seasons. More wins won’t lead to high draft picks, leaving Darnold out of reach. That is unless the Saints pull off a nice trade and move up (most likely to first overall) in either draft.
Darnold took over a struggling USC team and led them to glory last season. He still has at least one more college season to improve upon or repeat the success of 2016. The Saints won’t tank, so we can only hope for either a trade up around draft night, or Darnold somehow falling down in the first round.