football-player football-score football-helmet football-ball Accuracy Arm-Strength Balance Ball-Security Ball-Skills Big-Play-Ability Block-Deconstruction Competitive-Toughness Core-Functional-Strength Decision-Making Discipline Durability Effort-Motor Elusivness Explosiveness Football-IQ Footwork Functional-Athleticism Hand-Counters Hand-Power Hand-Technique Hands Lateral-Mobility Leadership Length Mechanics Mobility Pass-Coverage-Ability Pass-Protection Pass-Sets Passing-Down-Skills Pocket-Manipulation Poise Power-at-POA Progressions RAC-Ability Range Release-Package Release Route-Running Run-Defending Separation Special-Teams-Ability-1 Versatility Vision Zone-Coverage-Skills Anchor-Ability Contact-Balance Man-Coverage-Skills Tackling Lifted Logic Web Design in Kansas City clock location phone email play chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up facebook tiktok checkbox checkbox-checked radio radio-selected instagram google plus pinterest twitter youtube send linkedin search arrow-circle bell left-arrow right-arrow tdn-mark filled-play-circle yellow-arrow-circle dark-arrow-circle star cloudy snowy rainy sunny plus minus triangle-down link close drag minus-circle plus-circle pencil premium trash lock simple-trash simple-pencil eye cart
NFL Draft

2021 Is A Make-Or-Break Year For Sam Darnold

  • The Draft Network
  • June 19, 2021
  • Share

When the new NFL year begins, there’s always personnel on notice; coaches’ seats heat up and players enter contract years. Path-altering franchise decisions are made during the offseason and an influx of talent is amassed prior to the start of the regular season.

In all of this movement, there are other players—either established or playing with a handful of years under their belt—that are entering their own make-or-break season for one reason or another. It’s almost often after a season of disastrous play or said player is attempting to usher in a new era, in a new setting; both are the case with Sam Darnold.

Darnold’s career barely survived the short-lived Adam Gase era and the quarterback was traded to the Carolina Panthers in April. The arc of Darnold’s career after the Jets selected him with the third-overall pick in 2018 was limited. A number of things went wrong in New York, including Gase’s incompetence and Darnold’s own health; now, nestled further down the East Coast, Darnold has a “glowing charisma” that wasn’t present in his three seasons in the Big Apple. 

“You know when a person, you can see a glow in them, their energy, an aura—I can see that when I walked into the building and just being around him,” wide receiver Robby Anderson said earlier this week during the Panthers’ minicamp.

There’s optimism surrounding Darnold’s addition in a Matt Rhule and Joe Brady-led offense. Carolina has Anderson and D.J. Moore as potent pass-catchers and Christian McCaffrey doing it all out of the backfield. It’s a stark contrast to what Darnold had available to him in New York. He has rid himself of the Jets’ poor offensive line play and lackluster skill position groups; this was one of the biggest arguments for any potential success that could come Darnold’s way with a new team. 

Now, with all—or most—of this in Carolina, everyone will be on notice. Despite all of the hurdles in Darnold’s way in New York, he wasn’t able to clear the few that come with a top-three draft selection. 

“My rookie year I was learning it. … I definitely was very focused on grasping everything and it definitely was a lot harder as a rookie,” Darnold said. “From my rookie year to now, I feel like I’ve really understood NFL offenses more and more.”

Darnold will have a full offseason to adapt to a new system and staff. It will be telling how well he can play when things are working in his favor. He didn’t give much for us to praise in his first three seasons; it will be a make-or-break year for Darnold in his first season with the Panthers.

Filed In

Related Articles

Written By

The Draft Network