Saints’ rival QB on the cusp of draft bust status

Sam Darnold #14 of the Carolina Panthers. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Sam Darnold #14 of the Carolina Panthers. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold dominated the New Orleans Saints in their first meeting in 2021, but that likely won’t happen in 2022.

Not too many players on the Saints could be considered draft busts, although some have yet to live up to their potential. Marcus Davenport, Cesar Ruiz, and Adam Trautman come to mind as players who need to have a productive year to earn a full-time starting position on the team, but for the most part, NOLA’s core remains stable largely thanks to that 2017 NFL Draft class. Well done, Mickey Loomis.

As for the Saints’ division rivals, the Panthers in particular are going through an identity crisis after trading for Baker Mayfield and struggling to get rid of former first-round pick Sam Darnold.

NFL Spin Zone’s Sayre Bedinger recently listed Darnold as a player nearing draft bust status this season:

"He’s had stretches of play as an NFL player that caused plenty of people to believe that he could still be a franchise QB, but it looks like there’s very little sand left in that timer.Darnold now has competition in the form of his 2018 NFL Draft classmate Baker Mayfield. Mayfield should be expected to start at this particular point in time, even though the Panthers are pitching this as a true competition."

New Orleans Saints will make this season a living hell for Sam Darnold

Darnold took the league by surprise in 2021 when he led the Panthers to three consecutive victories at the beginning of last season, putting 305 passing yards and two touchdowns over the Saints in Week 2.

A Darnold and McCaffrey duo crushed New Orleans 26-7 in a game where nothing went right for the Saints, and Jameis Winston played one of his worst games to date with no touchdowns against two interceptions and just a 50 percent pass completion rate.

Heading into 2022, the Saints may face Mayfield instead of Darnold given the fact that Mayfield had less of a terrible year on the Browns, but NOLA will also be looking for revenge against Darnold and would love to face him twice more this time around.

With a hopefully new and improved Winston under center, a rejuvenated offensive line, and a completely overhauled wide receiver unit, the Saints could very well expedite Darnold’s downward trajectory toward becoming a massive draft bust this season.

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In a few years time, Winston himself may be staring down the barrel of the draft bust label, but he doesn’t have to worry about that right now — Darnold does.