Sam Darnold

Overall Rank
6' 3"
221 lbs
Hand Size
Draft Pick
Best Comparable Player
Jared Goff
Workout Metrics
40-Yard Dash
Burst Score
Agility Score
Throw Velocity
Wonderlic Score
High School Metrics
College QBR
College YPA
Breakout Age

Sam Darnold Bio

Sam Darnold is a quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, drafted third overall in the 2018 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. Darnold was born in Dana Point, California, but played high school football at San Clemente High in San Clemente, California. He played baseball, basketball and football in high school, and could have played basketball at the Division-I level, per his high school coach. Darnold opted to stick with football, throwing for 3,000 yards and 39 touchdowns as a high school senior. He also rushed for 800 yards and another 13 scores his senior season. Darnold enrolled at USC as a member of their 2015 recruiting class. He spent two years as the Trojans’ starter, throwing for 7,229 yards, 57 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. In 2016, Darnold won the Archie Griffin Award and was named Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year. Following that standout season, he was recognized as First-Team All-Pac 12 in 2017.

Sam Darnold was the youngest quarterback to ever start an NFL game when he suited up for the Jets in Week 1 of the 2018 season against the Detroit Lions. Things got off to a great start for the former USC product in that game, as he and the Jets won in dominant fashion on the road, 48-17. Unfortunately for Darnold, the excitement of his debut quickly wore off. The rest of his time with the Jets was filled with one disappointing loss after another and multiple injury-riddled seasons. To this date, Darnold has not started more than 13 NFL games in a season. He holds a career record of 17-32 heading into an uncertain 2022 season.

After three disappointing years with the Jets, Darnold was traded to the Panthers for a 2021 sixth-round pick and 2022 second- and fourth-round picks. Soon after acquiring Darnold, the Panthers exercised the fifth-year option of his contract and are set to pay him just over $18 million in 2022. The Panthers are on the hook for that amount no matter what in 2022, as the entire sum is guaranteed.

The Panthers got off to a 3-0 start in 2021, but things quickly began to spiral out of control as they finished the year with a 5-12 record and Darnold tied for a season-low nine touchdown passes in 12 games. Darnold was close to replicating his 2020 numbers with the Jets, when he threw for 2,208-9-11. Darnold ended the 2021 season with 2,527-9-13 totals. He also endured a stretch in which he missed five games due to a non-displaced fracture of the right scapula, per Player Profiler’s injury reporting tool. Darnold ranked outside the top-20 in several Next Gen Stats but managed to finish 20th among quarterbacks in danger plays (27) and 13th in interceptable passes (26) despite missing five games.

Darnold threw the 28th most deep balls (39) in the league in 2021 and completed 46.3% of his passes while under pressure. His QBR ranked near the bottom of the league at 33.3. He was 28th in total air yards (2,876) while his receivers ranked 10th in the league in drops with 30. He had a fantasy ranking of QB24 in fantasy points per game at 14.2.

In all likelihood, Darnold will find himself on the Panthers bench when the 2022 season kicks off. Given his guaranteed price tag, it would benefit the Panthers to keep him rather than cut bait and eat the dead cap figure. It is likely Darnold will be beat out for the starting position by Baker Mayfield, who the Panthers acquired in July of 2022. Darnold, just 24 years old, could stick around in the league for years to come as a bona fide backup, but his shelf life as an NFL starter has likely passed its expiration date. For those looking to draft him in fantasy leagues in 2022, Darnold will carry the price-tag of a backup quarterback.