Sam Darnold NFL Draft Preview: Stock, Mock Drafts and Projections

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

Sam Darnold will find out his fate in the 2018 NFL Draft on Thursday. Will the USC quarterback go No. 1 overall or will another steal his thunder?

This time last year, USC quarterback Sam Darnold was being talked about as a Heisman Trophy favorite and potential No. 1 overall draft pick.

The Heisman pursuit didn’t quite work out, but Darnold’s quest to be the top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft is still very much alive.

It’s easy to see why. The Trojan quarterback was electric in cardinal and gold, putting up 7,229 yards on 64.9 percent passing with 57 touchdowns in two years as a starter. Memorably, he used his scrambling ability and backyard football playmaking to guide USC to a Rose Bowl victory and a Pac-12 Championship.

Where will he go from here?

Scout’s Take

“There’s no doubt Darnold has the physical tools and upside to be a difference-maker at the next level, but he still needs to improve his consistency, accuracy and decision-making..”—Luke Easterling, USA Today

More from Reign of Troy

“At the end of the day, Darnold has NFL size, arm strength, accuracy, pocket mobility, poise and field reading capability. His windup is an eyesore for sure, but he has the velocity to mitigate the additional release time…His floor is solid starter, but he has the ceiling to be one of the top tier quarterbacks in the game as he gains more experience.”—Lance Zierlein,

“The bottom line is that Darnold is the most complete quarterback in the 2018 class and he has the type of makeup that most good NFL starters possess. Darnold grades out as a high-level NFL starting quarterback and he projects to be a top-five pick.”—


It all seems to come down to the Browns. Will they go with Darnold? Or take a chance on the big arm of Wyoming’s Josh Allen?

Many of the latest mocks have Allen nabbing that first overall pick, including CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco, Ryan Wilson, R.J. White and Chris Trapasso. That would potentially spare Darnold from becoming the next in a long line of Cleveland quarterbacks.

However, not everyone sees the Browns spurning Darnold. analysts like Daniel Jeremiah, Curtis Conway and Charley Casserly are still sticking with the Trojan to Cleveland at No. 1.

What if Darnold doesn’t go to Cleveland? It seems he won’t fall any further than fourth. Mel Kiper’s three-round “Grade A” draft sees the Giants snap him up at No. 2. Walter Cherepinsky of Walter Football projects a minor slip down to the Buffalo Bills at No. 4. The Jets could also jump on the chance to take Darnold at No. 3.

On the one hand, Trojan fans should be crossing their fingers to see Darnold end up with Cleveland. He would become the sixth ever USC player to go first overall, separating the Trojans from Notre Dame and Auburn with five each.

On the other hand, the prospect of Darnold ending up in the Big Apple would be plenty juicy, particularly if he avoids the troublesome Jets and lands with the Giants.

We’ll find out on Thursday.