Heading into this season, some people thought USC quarterback Sam Darnold was such an elite NFL prospect that a team like the Jets would be wise to tank its entire 2017 season for the right to draft him first in 2018.
It hasn’t worked out that way.
Darnold was unimpressive on Friday night in USC’s upset loss to Washington State, completing just 15 of 29 passes for 164 yards, with an interception and a game-sealing fumble that ended USC’s last drive. It was not a good performance.
And it has not been a good season for Darnold, who is down across the board from his breakout 2016 season: Darnold’s completion percentage is down, his yards per attempt average is down, his passer rating is down, and after finishing last season with 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions, so far this year he has nine touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Darnold may still be a great NFL player. But his early-season play shows just how foolish it was to suggest that a team should tank its season for him. Draft prospects, especially draft prospects who have only started 10 games, as Darnold had heading into this season, simply aren’t predictable enough to declare them a sure thing.
Darnold is no sure thing.