As USC Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold gets set to face the fifth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, could he be auditioning for another Ohio-based football team in the form of the Cleveland Browns?
Projected by some as the No.1 QB in the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft, the 20-year-old 6’4 225-pound redshirt sophomore will have a who’s who of NFL scouts, executives and owners watching him battle one of college football’s most battle-hardened and NFL-caliber defenses in the form of Ohio State.
If Darnold performs well, the narrative will be why he should be the top pick by Cleveland in April. If he falters, Darnold’s stock will drop faster than Enron and be relegated to being consider maybe the third or ever fourth best QB behind fellow crosstown rival, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson and everyone’s hot flavor of the day in Wyoming enigma, Josh Allen.
It’s not fair how quick and fickle fans and media are these days, but that is the world we live in.
For Darnold, who has passed for 3,787 yards and 26 touchdowns, this is his moment to show the nation why he was –at one point, considered the early Heisman Trophy frontrunner–and also why he may warrant being taken No.1 overall by the Browns.
What really jumps out on film in watch Darnold is his knack for extending and making big plays, which is something that has been lacking in Cleveland for what seems to be a generation. While he doesn’t quite have the deep ball touch of Rosen, the arm talent of Allen or even the charisma of Mayfield, Darnold has a cool, steady and decisive manner about him.
While it has been debated and reported that he may decide to stay at USC, due to Cleveland owning the top pick, recent statements seem to debunk such speculation, as Darnold may very well be plaing his final game in the storied cardinal and gold of Troy.
Stay or go, Los Angeles or Cleveland, USC or Cleveland, whichever direction Darnold goes, make no mistake, it will effect both worlds, one way or another.