The Panthers’ search for a franchise quarterback has turned to Sam Darnold, the former No. 3 pick of the 2018 draft.
Darnold finished the 2020 season with the worst passer rating among 35 qualified players last year at 72.7 — below the likes of Carson Wentz, Dwayne Haskins, and Drew Lock. But the Panthers feel like there are enough traits to work with to make him a viable starting quarterback.
“Just seeing him make reads, just seeing the throws, seeing him play off schedule, seeing him in the pocket identifying protections,” offensive coordinator Joe Brady said this week, via David Newton of ESPN. “It’s not like you’re getting a guy that’s brand new. You’re getting a veteran, a guy that just so happens to be young. That was extremely enticing to us.”
Brady also complimented Darnold on his ability to learn from each rep.
“What I love is if he makes a mistake one day, the next day he doesn’t make the mistake again, so he’s growing from his experiences,” Brady said.
The Panthers picked up Darnold’s fifth-year option, so he has guaranteed money coming from the organization for the next two years. But he has a lot of work to do to show that he’s the long-term answer for Carolina.
Through three seasons, Darnold has completed 59.8 percent of his passes for 8,097 yards with 45 touchdowns and 39 interceptions in 38 games. He’s also lost seven of his 20 fumbles.