With the 2018 NFL Draft roughly six weeks away, could the Cleveland Browns be zeroing in on their top choice at No.1 in Sam Darnold?
Darnold, a former redshirt sophomore at USC, attracted quite a bit of attention at his Pro Day workout on Wednesday which included the entire Browns front office brass in owner Jimmy Haslam, general manager John Dorsey, head coach Hue Jackson, offensive coordinator Todd Haley and quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese were all on hand to see the franchise’s possible face and savior up close and in person.
Darnold, a 6’3 223 pounder who went 20-4 in his career as quarterback at USC, including a thrilling Rose Bowl 52-49 win over Penn State, put on a passing show amidst a rare Southern California rain.
In throwing a scripted 60 passes in inclement weather showed anything, is that Darnold isn’t shy about playing in harsh weather.
Such boldness and heartiness would win many hearts in Northeastern Ohio for a guy from sub-bathed Capistrano Beach, during the cold and harsh winter months.
After passing for 4,143 yards, a single-season passing yard record for a Trojan quarterback, Darnold also led all FBS QB’s in total turnovers with 22, with 13 interceptions and nine fumbles. In his last game in the Trojan’s storied garnet and gold, he committed three turnovers including a pick-six and fumbling twice, while completing 26-of-45 passes for 356 yards in a 24-7 loss to No.5 Ohio State.
Some say he is too young at 20, some say that he isn’t ready to be the face of a rebuilding franchise such as Cleveland, but you can’t teach mobility, escapability, improvisation and the type of arm strength that Darnold possesses.
It may not be on the level of a Josh Allen or Rosen, but Darnold has a cannon capable of attacking all areas of the field and could benefit nicely under the rural edge of Haley, who worked with another big-armed and quarterback down the turnpike in Pittsburgh named Ben Roethlisberger.
While there are more upcoming private workouts with Allen and Rosen in Cleveland, if first impressions mean anything, then by all acounts heard, it may be time to stock up on a No.14* Browns Darnold jersey real soon in The Land.
(Editor’s Note: No.14 is currently retired in honor of Browns NFL QB and Hall of Famer, Otto Graham)