Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 NFL Draft class is stacked with quarterback talent. That means Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen. So over the next few weeks, we’re going to project each of these names.

Sam Darnold – USC

Height: 6’ 4” Weight: 225lbs. Age: 20

2017 Statistics4,143 yards, 63.1 percent completion rate, 31 TD (5 rushing), 13 INT.

Projection: Early First-Round

Potential Landing Spots: Browns, Giants, Broncos, Jets

Sam Darnold can most accurately be described as a work-in-progress quarterback. He does not yet have what it takes to be a star in the NFL. But, scouts can see that he has tons of potential to develop into the next big-name QB. He operated behind an awful offensive line this past season and was still able to be productive. As a result, he was able to showcase his great ability to escape pressure in the pocket and make accurate throws on the run. His throws are filled with power and very accurate from short and medium distances, consistently hitting his receivers in stride. In general, Darnold is a very mobile quarterback with his agility making up for what he lacks in speed.

There are several characteristics that could be barriers to his success in the NFL. For instance, he has a tendency to stare down the receiver he wants to throw to on some plays. That makes it very easy for the safeties to read his and make a play, even if it isn’t an interception. When he isn’t staring down receivers, he goes through his progressions too slowly. It’s like he is waiting for the receiver he is looking at to get open instead of evaluating his other options. He needs to improve his ability to read coverage and understand the possible gaps that each receiver will be open.

Additionally, his accuracy on the deep ball also needs to be improved. He seems to over or under throw his receiver every time he tries to launch a deep ball.

The team that would be the best fit for Darnold are the New York Giants. And currently, they have the second overall pick in this year’s draft. Right now, Eli Manning is their quarterback. But his career is nearing its end. After all, he is getting older and his abilities are beginning to regress.

But Sam Darnold needs a few years to develop before he is thrown into an NFL game anyway, which makes this the perfect situation for him. Ideally, Darnold would take about two years to practice with and develop under Eli Manning, learning how he operates. When Eli is ready to retire, Sam Darnold would be ready to be a starter and take over the offense. If the Browns take Darnold with one of their picks in the top-five, I can’t see him being successful. They would try to throw him into the thick of things immediately and that’s just not something that he is ready to do with his current experience.

Sam Darnold, like Josh Rosen, is another top-three quarterback this year. And we’re most likely going to see him taken within the first six picks.

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This article first appeared on The Sports Post and was syndicated with permission.

TEAMS: UCLA Bruins
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