USC’s Sam Darnold should stay in school

3 of 4

Experience is key

Darnold has less than 20 starts in college. This translates to very little experience in a number of ways.

He hasn’t experienced many losses. He hasn’t seen many complex defensive looks, or even played a truly elite college defense. These factors are worrying for quarterback’s entering the NFL.

If he declared for the 2018 draft there would be serious doubts over whether he would be putting himself in the best position to succeed. So prodigious is his talent, that he would likely end up starting in 2018 if he did declare. But there would a lot of growing pains for him to go through.

More from With the First Pick

History tells us that the more experience a quarterback has in college the better prepared he is to face the rigours and complexities of the pro game. Andrew Luck would have had a chance to be the number one pick in 2011, but he stayed at Stanford for his senior year.

Luck entered the league with nearly forty college starts under his belt and even he struggled slightly. Having said that, the three-time pro bowler still tossed over 4000 yards and 23 touchdowns in his rookie year.

Conversely, there are countless examples of quarterbacks who leave school early that struggle with developing in the NFL. Brock Osweiler, who had just 13 starts at Arizona State, is a good example of the challenges that face QB’s that don’t have much college experience.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Blaine Gabbert and Blake Bortles are other examples of current QB’s in the league who started less than 30 games in college and haven’t had overwhelming success in the NFL.

Whereas the list of players who exceeded 30 starts in college includes Dak Prescott, Phillip Rivers, Eli Manning, Derek Carr, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Big Ben and Drew Brees.

This group of players have all made at least one pro bowl and have 5 Super Bowls between them.

The obvious outlier is Tom Brady who started for two years on and off at Michigan. But, overall it is clear that experience in college is key to success in the NFL.

Darnold should follow the trend of Luck and co and remain at USC for at least one more year.  This will allow him to improve his game and eek out any inconsistencies whilst he is still developing physically.

Despite his obvious greatness in big spots in 2017, namely the final minute against Texas, Darnold has thrown a worrying amount of interceptions. 7 picks in 4 games isn’t ideal. Whilst he is able to bring his team back into games in college, the same won’t be true in the NFL.

Another year at USC would do no harm for his long term future as an NFL quarterback.