2016 Archie Griffin Award
2016 Pac-12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year
2016 Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America Team
2016 Campus Insiders Freshman All-American Second Team
2016 All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention
We have three players rushing the passer for Penn State. Sam Darnold has a receiver on a cross route with an open field ahead of him, but instead, he opts to throw the deep ball here. This ball has to be on the money or it’s likely an interception. The throw is on target and where only the intended receiver can make a play on the ball. This is a huge throw at a critical point in the game.
It’s just an ugly play. There’s nothing available as Darnold works through his progressions. Rather than put this ball out of play, or check down to the running back in the flat, mechanics get the best of him as he throws this off his back foot into double coverage and several yards short of his receiver for the interception.
This is why Sam Darnold is so dangerous. What’s incredible is that this isn’t even a designed run, but rather, an improvised run after Darnold saw the pressure coming from the middle. This is a sack or a run for a short gain if Darnold doesn’t make a few guys miss here. All in all, it’s just an awesome play.
While he doesn’t have the arm strength that Rivers possesses, Sam Darnold still has the accuracy to make all of the throws needed as an NFL Quarterback. We don’t see it as much nowadays, but Philip Rivers has quite a bit of speed out of the pocket, although Sam Darnold is more elusive.
In my first mock draft of the season, I had Sam Darnold projected first overall to the Cleveland Browns. Even if the Browns pass on him at 1, I don’t believe that he falls far. I truly believe that if he’s able to shore up his mechanics when under pressure and cut down on mistakes, we’ll refer to Darnold as one of the top rookies of 2018.