Darnold is a big-bodied athletic quarterback who is capable of making every throw on the field. His size and strength allow him to stand in the pocket and make throws with pressure in his face. He has a great feel in the pocket, and avoids defenders with ease, sliding up or moving out of the pocket. His balance and strength allow him to keep his feet when rushed, and he utilizes his foot quickness and strength to pull free and move outside the pocket. He has a cannon for an arm, and gets the ball to all areas of the field. Darnold rarely puts the ball in a place where defenders can make a play, and throws the ball with nice velocity and zip. Darnold can fit the ball into tight windows, and is exceptional when throwing on the run. He has the ability to extend plays and throw his receivers open, as well as take off and run for the first down. He keeps his eyes down field, works through each of his progressions, and often buys second chance opportunities in order to find an open receiver down field. He rarely makes mistakes, and can fire the ball down field with high velocity and zip.
Darnold needs to work on his footwork, often getting flatfooted when working through his progressions. He can forget to keep his knees bent, but his athleticism and size make up for his flexibility. He needs to learn to slide and bounce on the balls of his feet in order to move more fluid. He is much more comfortable playing in the shotgun than under center. He can avoid defenders using his foot quick’s and has the ability to scramble for the first down, but does not posses break away speed. He needs to learn to slide and give himself up during scrambles, or he will be taking a lot of hits at the next level. Darnold can be found to throw off his Back foot at times when under pressure causing his throws to hang in the air, and allow defenders to make plays on the ball. He needs to work on stepping into his throws more frequently, and avoid relying on his arm strength on each throw.
Darnold is a prototypical gunslinger that can fire the ball to any spot on the field, utilizing the deep out, seem, and deep-sideline throws. He has a very quick release when in motion, and can fit the ball into tight windows. He needs to work on his footwork, as he fails to bounce and keep his feet moving. He often becomes flatfooted when scanning the field. Darnold needs to step into his throws more frequently and stop throwing off his back foot. He relies to heavily on his arm strength and can forget about his mechanics. Darnold throws the ball with high velocity and zip. He is exceptional when improvising, and can escape the rush with ease. He works through each progression, and is exceptional throwing on the run. He is extremely athletic, and can move up and out of the pocket when pressured. He can extend plays, and make throws with pressure in his face. He often buys second chances and can scan the field to find open receivers down field. Darnold is a great leader. He gives an outstanding effort on every play. He never quits making plays or fighting for yards. Darnold will be successful at the next level, but will need to improve his footwork to be an outstanding player at the next level.
Darnold is very athletic for his size. His athleticism assists in making plays inside and outside of the pocket, and when on the move. He has the ability to extend plays with his legs, and throw his receivers open. He possesses the flexibility to keep his knees bent when he throws; however, he fails to do this consistently and often throws off his back foot or with his front leg straight. His strength combines with his balance in order for him to keep his feet when rushed. He can get free and uses his foot quickness to pull free, get outside the pocket and scramble for the first down. He has the ability to get free from the pocket and scramble for short yardage touchdowns or first downs; however, he does not possess the game speed to break away and run for big gains regularly. He scrambles with his eyes downfield. This helps him make better decisions before scrambling. He plays faster than he actually is. He has a great feel for the pocket and can generate separation by sliding up or out of the pocket. He has the talent and size to make the first defender miss. He uses his foot quicks to get outside of the pocket or side step defenders, and continuously looks downfield to find open receivers before taking off with the ball.
Scrambling Ability and
RPO and Play Action
Pocket Mobility/Avoid Pressure
Big Play Ability
Big Play Ability
Touch and Ball Placement
Unless throwing to his first option, he often holds onto the ball for a long amount of time before throwing. He has a powerful arm to make any throw on the field; however, when pressured, Darnold throws off his back foot, which allows defenders to make plays on the ball. He has a strong arm to make any throw on the field. Darnold rarely puts the ball in a place where defenders can make a play, and throws the ball with nice velocity and zip. When throwing off his back foot, he loses some zip, and the ball tends to hang in the air. He can place the ball anywhere on field and often gives his receivers the best opportunities to play the ball in the air, rarely under throwing. He has great timing and zip when throwing the ball short. His strong arm can place the ball anywhere on the field, and throwing short seems like a cake walk. Darnold isn’t afraid to throw the ball into coverage or to use his check down, when a play has broken-down or is under pressure. USC utilizes quick screen passes out wide, and Darnold opens his body well in order to fire it across the field. Darnold isn’t afraid to fire the ball into coverage. He rarely puts the ball in a place, in which the defender can play the ball in the air. Darnold does a great job of scanning the field and working through his progressions. He often finds his receiver, and has the ability to throw them open, or fit the ball into tight windows on intermediate routes. Darnold has a strong arm that can get the ball deep down field. Darnold relies on his arm strength for deep routes down the sideline. He needs to work on stepping into his throws for deep routes, and placing the ball on top of the receiver. He often overthrows the ball when he doesn’t step into his throws, or launches the ball off his back foot, which takes velocity and zip off the ball. When he steps into these throws, he can place the ball perfectly in his receivers basket. Darnold consistently makes big plays, and his size, balance, arm strength and accuracy all play a part. He has the ability to extend plays with his legs and throw his receivers open. Darnold has great accuracy, and can fit the ball into tight windows. He keeps his eyes downfield and can find open receivers after extending the play. He needs to step into his throws more consistently and avoid throwing off his back foot. He has great awareness, and throws the ball away when the play has broken down, or if he is under pressure. He needs to improve on his decision making when under pressure, as he can throw the ball into crowds relying heavily on his arm strength. Darnold has a cannon for an arm. He has the ability to throw the ball with high speed and velocity. Darnold can consistently and efficiently throw the deep crossing, seem, deep-out, and sideline routes with ease. He can throw the ball deep down field just by the flick of his arm. Darnold needs to work on his footwork. He has a good drop back, but tends to get flatfooted once he begins to scan the field. He needs to learn to slide his feet, and bounce on the balls of his feet in order to move more fluid. His athleticism helps him move up and out of the pocket, and his awareness allows him to locate defenders, but to make it in the next level he will need to improve his footwork.
Poise in Pocket
Darnold has a big frame and is a very strong qb. he takes big hits and shrugs them off as if they were nothing. He has been very durable in his career, and due to the combination of his size and strength, he should continue to be durable at the next level. He needs to learn to slide when on the move and avoid taking hits downfield. Darnold is an outstanding leader, and was voted captain as a sophomore. He gives an outstanding effort on every play. He never quits making plays or fighting for yards. Darnold is very poised in the pocket. He always has his eyes downfield, trying to find open receivers. He is very patient, as he always works through his progressions. He can avoid pressure, and stand strong with defenders in his face. He can consistently make plays on the move, and finds open receivers to get the ball to. He has the ability to buy second chance efforts and escape from the pocket, often extending the play and creating something out of nothing. He is extremely accurate when throwing on the run, but needs to work on stepping into his throws and getting his feet and shoulders square when throwing the ball. His production has tailed off since his redshirt freshman year, but he can consistently makes big plays downfield. Darnold has the IT factor that will help him succeed at the next level. He needs to work on his footwork, but he can constantly makes accurate throws and escapes pressure. Darnold’s improvisational ability is exceptional. He consistently creates plays out of nothing.
Darnold is a naturally instinctive quarterback that can consistently escape from pressure, and make plays out of nothing. He reacts quickly and fires the ball to open receivers he sees. He always has his eyes downfield looking for open players. Darnold can sense the blitz before the snap. He moves well in the pocket and can avoid the blitz regularly. Darnold rarely throws the ball into coverage, and has the arm strength to fit it into tight windows. He needs to throw the ball away more frequently; instead of throwing the ball into a crowd when under pressure. He needs to work on stepping into his throws and avoid throwing off his back foot.
He understands the concepts in a pro-style offense, but needs to become more comfortable under center.