Papadakis: Darnold is ready to take on the NFL

January 25, 2018
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As we inch closer and closer to the 2018 NFL Draft in Arlington, Texas, we will continue to look ahead to the class of quarterbacks that will be available this April.

The Buffalo Bills own the 21st and 22nd overall picks in the draft, and are among several teams who could look to draft a quarterback of the future. With the future of Tyrod Taylor uncertain at this point, the speculations will continue and the hype of each prospect will intensify.

One of the top prospects that will garner some attention is USC quarterback, Sam Darnold.

Darnold, 20, is coming off of a decent season with the Trojans, throwing for 4,143 yards and 26 touchdowns while completing 63.1-percent of his passes in 14 games. Although his passing yards increased by nearly 1,100 yards from last season, Darnold threw for five fewer touchdowns, completed a fewer percentage of his passes (4.1%), and threw 13 interceptions. In his two seasons in Southern California, Darnold threw for 7,229 yards and 57 touchdowns.

It is very likely that the Bills will have to trade up for the chance to draft Darnold, who is expected to go within the top-five picks of the draft. The price to trade up may very well include both of their first round picks in this year's draft, and maybe even more picks or assets. However, the potential that Darnold has to be a franchise quarterback is very high.

One person who has followed Darnold throughout his time at USC is Petro Papadakis, who works for 570 AM KLAC in Los Angeles as the co-host of the Petros and Money Show. Papadakis is also a college football analyst working with FOX Sports.

Papadakis joined Howard Simon and Jeremy White on Thursday morning to talk a bit about Darnold and his tenure with the Trojans. Here are some of the more notable things that he discussed:

 

On his struggles with USC this past season:

"He did have difficulty in the 2017 season, but it wasn't because the expectations were too high. I just think he was put in a position to not always have the optimum success at a place like USC. He still performed very well, but he was put in a lot of tough situations in an offense that I don't feel is a very good fit at USC. I thought he performed pretty brilliantly."


On his play during the 2017 season:

"It really did come down to the fact that he had to have the ball in his hands to win the game at the end of the game in a lot of situations at USC. He's not afraid of that moment. He's not afraid to make decisions, he's not afraid to play fast, he's not afraid to tuck and run, he's not afraid to lower his shoulder. He seems to have a pretty good ability for a big guy to not take gigantic hits. Ball security is obviously an issue, especially after you watch the tape from this year. They're going to talk about his hand size, I'm sure. That will be a thing when they finally measure his hands because of the fumbles he had."


On the way he plays and his attitude:

"Ultimately, I just love the way he plays. I love his attitude, I like his pedigree. I like the fact that, unlike a lot of very popular Southern California quarterbacks in my lifetime, he's not the product of a quarterback academy or a quarterback guru. He's kind of a raw kid who's ready for NFL level coaching, and I think that's going to make all of the difference."


On Darnold's throwing mechanics:

"Darnold has a little hitch when he throws it. It's not a gigantic windup, the ball does get out pretty fast, but he does have a little loop in there that you hear about. He had the same loop before when he barely threw any interceptions or had fumbles, so I don't know how much that really plays into it when it comes to his motion and where he holds it when he's going to throw."


On Darnold's makeup as a quarterback:

"He's a great teammate. He loves being with the guys as opposed to being an individual outside of the team. Josh Rosen, who has a tennis background, is a little bit more of an individual athlete. Darnold is not like that at all. I recruited Carson Palmer and played with him for three years, and I was endlessly impressed with him. But I have never liked the makeup of a USC quarterback more than Sam Darnold's makeup."


On his drive for success:

"It's a point of celebration for him, and has been since I can remember him taking the job. Also, he wasn't a very big recruit. He's got a little bit of that [Baker] Mayfield chip on his shoulder, and I think it manifested itself in a different way for him as a player."


Papadakis also has some words about Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield and his future in the NFL. You can listen to the entire interview below: