NFL Draft: Sam Darnold knows his turnover issues in college are a concern
Through much of the pre-draft process, former USC quarterback Sam Darnold has been in the conversation for the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. He has been highly touted for his ability on the field that has garnered the assessment that he could become a viable franchise quarterback at the next level.
However, there has been some level of concerns with the number of turnovers he committed during his collegiate career. During a recent interview with Pro Football Talk Live, Darnold acknowledged those issues by stating that is something that has continued to work on improving that aspect of his game.
“There’s obviously a lot of talk about turnovers, which I get,” Darnold said during a recent visit to PFT Live. “The tape doesn’t lie. I’ve heard that a million times. It’s fair. It’s really fair. Turning the ball over is something you don’t want to do as a quarterback. I think the number one job as a quarterback is protecting the football. I’ve been working on it, but at the same time there’s so many plays where I take my left hand off the ball and I make a first down or I throw a touchdown. There’s a lot of give and take when it comes to me turning the ball over. But, yeah, it’s something that I can’t do. It’s something that I’ve really been working on.”
The 20-year-old had his fair share of struggles averting turnovers during his time at USC throwing 22 interceptions and committing 21 fumbles in 27 starts. All of that has drawn some concerns about his ability to cut that down once he reaches the NFL next season.
There is no question that Darnold has the arm talent and leadership ability that could translate well at the next level, but his ball security is a poignant issue that must be addressed as well. He plays at a position where turnovers could quickly prove to be costly and hurt his ability to positively impact the game to a greater degree.
It is an ongoing process for Darnold that may require him to change some of his habits when in the pocket on the move to help him better secure the ball away from defenders. Meanwhile, his decision making in his throws could improve with the proven talent around him that will be at the next level. This is a clear area of needed improvement, but it shouldn’t cause him to slip in the upcoming draft or dwindle the high expectations ahead of him to become a bonafide franchise quarterback in the NFL. If anything, it is an aspect of his game that needs improvement in order to help him find success in the league.