USC’s Darnold no longer looking like a sure NFL thing

Sam Darnold is making things difficult for NFL scouts.

The USC quarterback was supposed to be the consensus No. 1 pick in next year’s draft, but his shaky play at the start of this season has raised questions about just how good a prospect Darnold really is.

In USC’s 30-27 loss to Washington State Friday night, he completed only 15 of 29 passes for 164 yards with an interception and a fumble that ruined the Trojans last bid for a late victory.

Washington State had lost 15 in a row to ranked opponents.

So far this year, Darnold has nine touchdown passes and eight interceptions. Last year, he had 31 touchdown passes and nine interceptions.

Darnold wasn’t helped by the fact that three USC offensive linemen went down in the game. And he has a new cast of receivers. But he may be playing himself out of the top pick and a shot at the Heisman Trophy.

Darnold, who had started only 10 games coming into this season, still has a lot of time to turn around his season, but the slow start suggests he’s not the next John Elway.

Maybe there was too much hype last year after he replaced Max Browne as a redshirt freshman in the wake of USC being outscored 79-16 by Alabama and Stanford.

Judging quarterbacks is difficult under the best of circumstances and now scouts have to decide just what his potential is in the NFL.

I have no idea how good he will be and have often said that unless a player is an Elway or a Lawrence Taylor, there’s a lot of luck involved in draft. Half the players on the first round don’t live up to their college reputations.

In the end, after the scouts do all their research, they might as well flip a coin when they decide whether to take Darnold and hope for the best.

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