Injuries and inconsistency have clouded Sam Darnold’s ceiling. But one former quarterback believes it is even higher than reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson’s.
“I’m taking Sam Darnold over every young quarterback that’s come into the NFL the last three years,” Dan Orlovsky said on the My Sports Update podcast. “You mean to tell me that Lamar Jackson… if he got drafted by the Jets, he wins MVP? You mean to tell me that if Sam Darnold goes to a team that has a top-five run game similar to the Ravens and a top-five defense similar to the Ravens, we don’t have a very different outlook on Sam Darnold?”
Orlovsky, a 12-year pro turned rising ESPN analyst, had been asked whether he would prefer to build a team around Darnold or Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, when he responded with some of the most inspiring words a Jets fan could hear.
“Sam Darnold… that’s an easy answer for me,” Orlovsky said. “I think Sam Darnold is one of the most talented guys at that position that has come out of the draft in years. ….I still believe that Sam Darnold has this… magical sloppiness to his game that is very Big Ben (Roethlisberger), Tony Romo-esque that he can do things that you just cannot nor would not coach into a player.”
Darnold, drafted third overall in 2018, was the highest-drafted quarterback the team has taken since landing Joe Namath with the top pick in the 1965 AFL Draft. Since becoming the youngest opening-day starting quarterback in NFL history (21 years, 97 days old), Darnold has gone 11-15 in two seasons — missing six games to injury/illness — with a weak supporting cast of skill position players, throwing 36 touchdowns, 28 interceptions and completing 59.9 percent of his passes.
“I think anyone that tries to sit here and tell you that they can make an honest evaluation of Sam Darnold is lying,” Orlovsky said.