Things don’t always go as expected as Sam Darnold & Josh Rosen can attest to. The two quarterbacks’ NFL futures have been linked since this off-season as two of the top prospects. In some ways, the season has not gone the way either quarterback would have wanted as Darnold has battled turnover problems while Rosen has dealt with injuries.
Once thought to be one of the title favorites, USC (9-2) would need a lot to go right to jump back into the College Football Playoff picture, while the Bruins (5-5) are struggling to make a bowl. Despite all their shortcomings, Darnold and Rosen still have plenty of NFL interest. In Heavy’s latest mock draft, we have Darnold going to the Browns at No. 1 with Rosen being drafted by the Redskins at No. 11.
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah recently surveyed five NFL executives on which quarterback they have rated higher, and the NFL consensus goes along with our mock draft as all five executives prefered Darnold.
One anonymous executive explained to Jeremiah why he believed Darnold will be the better pro.
Both are talented passers and both are tough. Rosen is tougher than he is given credit for. Sam just has a little more savvy and feel for the position to me. [Darnold has] more ability to make a crazy, improbable kind of play than Josh, while still being a highly skilled passer. [I] like both of them, but I’d take Sam if in position to choose one.
While the NFL is still high on Rosen, Jeremiah noted many executives believe in Darnold’s intangibles more than Rosen’s.
It’s rare to get a unanimous result with these weekly Ask 5 questions. However, all five of these executives prefer Darnold over Rosen at the moment. I thought it was interesting that three of the executives mentioned the “it” factor. I hear that a lot when discussing Darnold and I agree with their assessment of him. He has a special quality that’s hard to define. He’s clutch and thrives in chaotic moments. I think Rosen is a more refined passer, but Darnold would get my vote right now.
Given he has played in two fewer games, Rosen’s numbers this season look a bit more impressive than Darnold. Rosen has thrown for 3,094 yards, 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions while completing 62.2 percent of his passes. Rosen also has less to work with than some of the talented skill players Darnold has around him at USC.
Darnold has thrown for 3,198 yards, 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while completing 63.4 percent of his passes. Darnold does add a wrinkle for defenses to prepare for with his ability to run with the ball as his four rushing touchdowns show.
…Stats need background, and for Darnold, the tape shows an accurate, poised, smart quarterback who is hitting his rhythm well with a young USC offense around him. And remember—last year at this time, a lot of people were upset about Deshaun Watson’s interception numbers. He looked pretty good in his rookie NFL season before injury…
Physically, [Rosen] reminds me of Jared Goff with a lean frame but beautiful footwork and a clean, compact stroke as a passer. The downside is that he’s struggled with injuries in college (knee, shoulder, concussion), and there are rumors out there among NFL scouts that he’s not well-liked by his coaching staff. All that must be weighed throughout the draft process, but if teams are comfortable with Rosen’s personality, they could get a truly elite passer with touch accuracy and the field vision from the pocket teams generally die for.
Each quarterback has his warts, but expect both signal callers to be selected high in next season’s draft given the amount of teams in need of a quarterback. With the Bills stepping away from Tyrod Taylor, it looks like we have another team that could look to select a quarterback high in next year’s draft.
We will find out after the college football season if both players enter the draft. There has been rumblings Darnold would return to USC rather than play for the Browns if they have the No. 1 pick. If I am a team in need of a quarterback, Darnold gets my vote, but both players are capable of becoming solid NFL quarterbacks. As this season showed, each player is far from a finished product, and needs to land with a team willing to give them time to develop.