"Darnold's been like a football Billy Hoyle, regularly conning defenders with his quickness, arm and boring personality."
Former basketball guy has quick feet, buys time and can finish with accuracy. Cool under duress and on the move. Physical mentality and not afraid of contact. Has a burst as a scrambler and runner that surprises defenders.
Arm talent jumps out. Can drop it in anywhere on the field or fire it into a tight window. At ease throwing on the run. Throws with anticipation. Ball placement and timing is generally good. Solid arm strength and velocity. Cocks his delivery but his follow thru is fast. Flashes clutch ability. Mature, humble personality.
The two clips above highlight Darnold's big time arm talent. Both throws here are undefendable. And the 2nd clip was his first collegiate start.
The mobility while staying accurate is the most intriguing part of Darnold's game. The clip above vs Colorado he's dancing in & out but puts a catchable ball right on target.
Most QBs get a little frenetic running from pressure and either tuck it and run or heave it deep or out of bounds. Darnold has shown remarkable poise running around.
It's impossible to know if that's sustainable in the pros with better athletes but it's an intriguing trait nonetheless. It reminds of Romo, Young, Wilson, Rothlisberger or Rodgers...a few of the best scrambler/throwers.
In the clip below he flashes his arm strength with a 30yd strike over the middle with velocity.
Turned the ball over too much his 2nd season. Forces some throws and can get careless with ball security. Fumbles a lot on contact. Often predetermines throws. Doesn't concede on scrambles until the last possible second, sometimes ending in disaster. A gunslinger and will throw the ball up for grabs or into traffic.Won't be a game manager.
Streaky. Sometimes dances in the pocket unnecessarily. Further along than most RS Sophs but may not be ready to play right away. Grounded personality but also un-charismatic.
It's one of Darnold's few flaws but it's a major one...just protecting the ball. He's routinly putting the ball on the ground on scrambles or crumbling pockets.
What's special about Darnold is predicated on his arm talent and his mobility. He's been like a football Billy Hoyle, regularly conning defenders with his quickness, arm and boring demenor.
The biggest knock on him are all the turnovers he's committed. A not as talented receiving group and the OC’s abandonment of the run were factors this past season, but Darnold still has to learn to manage the game better.
Southern Cal QBs of late have all looked like stars in college and pedestrian as pros. Darnold has clearly better tools than Kessler, Barkley or Sanchez but I think it's fair to consider that his play may be being getting inflated to a degree. He doesn't possess the arm or tape of SC's last #1 overall pick, Carson Palmer. His game reminds me a bit of Jimmy Garroppolo in college, with a slower release.
Darnold's personality has been described by his family as "flatline". And some team scouts have said this reminds them of Eli Manning's blankness. That's obviously a glass full/empty argument. He hasn't experienced much criticism or adversity so far in his career and it'll be interesting how he handles that when it really kicks in. When asked about his slow stretch last season he replied that he may have let the talk or hype get to him and perhaps he was pressing.
In this class, he's benefiting from being the youngest and appearing to have the most easily correctable flaws. He's shown every trait necessary for a good NFL QB and he's just 20yrs old. The first obstacle he'll face at the next level will be the pace a team needs him to develop.
Ultimately I see Darnold being a productive pro QB that can win but streaky play and turnovers are decisive factors separating greats from mediocres. Unless he incorporates more game management into his high risk, high reward style of play, he'll be inconsistent long term.
NFL Comp: 6’3 Mark Brunell