Sam Darnold isn’t lacking confidence as his future as an NFL starting quarterback remains up in the air. With the uncertainty surrounding the Cleveland Browns and Baker Mayfield and the Carolina Panthers drafting Matt Corral in the third round, Darnold is the starter by definition in Carolina.
The job is Darnold’s to lose — for now. He has his sights set on something bigger.
“As long as I know what we’re doing, what the defense is doing, I’m confident I can be one of the best quarterbacks in the league,” Darnold said Tuesday, via ESPN. “There were times last year when my feet got very … just, loose is a good term … chaotic. It’s just having confidence in my feet and the system to go out there and put the ball where it needs to be.”
The numbers don’t back up Darnold’s optimism. Darnold completed 59.9% of his passes for 2,527 yards with nine touchdowns to 13 interceptions for a 71.9 passer rating last season, as the Panthers went 4-7 in his starts. He finished 31st in touchdown passes, 30th in completion percentage, 30th in yards per attempt (6.2), and 31st in passer rating.
Of the 30 quarterbacks that have thrown 1,000 pass attempts since the start of 2018 (Darnold’s rookie season), Darnold ranks last in completion percentage (59.8%), last in touchdown percentage (3.3), last in quarterback rating (76.9), and last in yards per attempt (6.5). Darnold has a long way to go before becoming the best quarterback in the NFL, but he has high ambitions.
“Everyone, including myself, knows the situation,” Darnold said. “But with that being said, it doesn’t change my mindset. I have a great attitude about myself going into every day.
“As a quarterback, you’ve got to be constant. You’ve got to be consistent every single day and every single play. So it’s tough to think about what if, or what can happen in the future.”