First it was Josh Rosen announcing. Then mere minutes later came Sam Darnold.
We don’t believe the two rival quarterbacks at UCLA and USC planned their draft announcements to drop so close to one another. But happy accident or not, two of the top prospects for the 2018 NFL draft made their intentions known on social media.
Both Rosen and Darnold said on Wednesday that they are coming out early. They’re candidates to go in the top 10 picks, and either of them could end up the first overall selection.
There are holes to poke in the games of both, and Rosen might be considered the more ready-made of the two entering the NFL. Darnold got off to a horrible start in USC’s Cotton Bowl loss to Ohio State before rallying a bit and playing more respectably in the second half. Rosen sat out UCLA’s bowl loss to Kansas State.
After leading the Trojans to nine straight victories after becoming the team's starter in 2016, Darnold fell off a bit this season — amid sky-high expectations. He finished his redshirt sophomore season throwing for 4,143 yards (63.1 completion percentage) with 26 TD passes and 13 interceptions.
Rosen finished his junior season with the Bruins with 3,717 yards (62.5 completion percentage), 26 TDs and 10 interceptions. In their one head-to-head battle in their careers this season, Rosen threw for 421 yards on 32-of-52 passing with three TDs and one INTs, but USC won 52-32. Darnold had lesser numbers in the game, passing for 264 yards on 17-of-28 completions with an interception and a rushing TD.
The Cleveland Browns pick first overall, and they also select fourth via a Draft Day trade last year that landed the Houston Texans their quarterback in Deshaun Watson. New Browns GM John Dorsey has said the team plans to make fixing the QB position a priority, although Rosen has seemed to balk for now at the idea of going to Cleveland.
The New York Giants, who pick second overall, also could be in the quarterback market. They, too, have a new general manager in Dave Gettleman and could be arriving at the end of the Eli Manning era after he was benched for a game, ending Manning’s 210-consecutive-game streak this season.
Neither are a finished product, and yet there’s no question it’s a stronger quarterback class with Rosen and Darnold announcing they’re coming out early.