By: Ryan Cearfoss
- Good arm strength
- Athletic and strong
- Strong out of the pocket
- Good pocket awareness
Good arm strength - Sam Darnold possesses a very live arm which is an extremely big deal for him. His arm strength bails him out on a lot of throws that were delivered late due to his elongated throwing motion. On top of that, he is able to fit the ball in tight windows as well as making tough down the field throws while he is on the run without fully setting his feet. This type of talent should make pro scouts droll if they feel like they can tighten up the rest of his game.
Athletic and strong – Darnold comes in at 6’4 220lbs and he’s about as sturdy as they come. The former high school linebacker has the physicality to take a hit in the pocket and still deliver a strike. When a defender does make contact with him if they are not able to wrap up he sheds them with relative ease. If everything breaks down in the pocket and in coverage, Darnold has enough athleticism to run the ball downfield to gain chunk plays. In the red zone, this adds another weapon to an offenses arsenal being able to run RPO’s and zone reads.
Confidence - The biggest thing that started the Sam Darnold hype train was his Rose Bowl performance against Penn State as a freshman. In the game, he seemed unfazed by the big stage and had one of the best games of his career. He didn’t back down one time scoring at will keeping pace with Penn State's high powered offense. This type of performance shows his unflappable confidence that coaches and teammates love because they know he’ll perform on the biggest stages.
- Throwing motion
- Ball Control
- Forces the ball under pressure
- Accuracy inconsistencies
Throwing Motion - Darnold’s throwing motion is the center to the majority of his issues as a passer. His elongated throwing motion causes him to be late on passes which allow for the defense to have more time to make a read and make a play on the ball. In the NFL this is a major concern because everyone is so athletic he can’t just rely on his arm strength to fit the pass in tight windows. This is a similar issue to what you see in Blake Bortles’ motion.
Forces the ball under pressure - One of the problems with a quarterback having all of the natural talent and confidence that Darnold has is they believe they can make any throw on the field. This is especially prevalent when the pass rush is closing in on him. Instead of throwing the ball away or possibly trying to move in the pocket he will try to force the ball into tight windows. With his long motion, a forced ball is almost guaranteed to be a turnover in the NFL.
Sam Darnold has all of the natural talents you want in a franchise quarterback. He can make every throw you want and has a calm demeanor in big-time situations. His game definitely needs some refinement with a long throwing motion that can lead to turnovers and inconsistent feet that can cause some accuracy issues. At 20 years old he is young enough to be coached and improve some of his mechanical issues. If he is able to sit and learn behind a veteran QB it could work wonders for his development. If Darnold is able to put it all together he has the potential to be a top-flight NFL quarterback.
As a fantasy prospect, Sam Darnold has the upside and gun slinging mentality to be a very relevant fantasy option. Not only should he put up a lot of yards in the passing game he should also give you some nice contributions with his legs. This does not come without a warning. There is a good chance that Darnold could sit or struggle in his first year adjusting to the NFL which means dynasty owners should definitely show patience. In the end, Sam Darnold has the upside to make showing some patience worth it.