When the 2021 NFL Draft discovered its option to the Carolina Panthers’ No. 8 choose on Thursday, quarterbacks Justin Fields and Mac Jones have been nonetheless out there.
There was a lot ballyhoo forward of the draft that if the appropriate signal-caller remained, the Panthers would choose him regardless of having not too long ago traded for Sam Darnold. Nonetheless, Carolina went with cornerback Jaycee Horn within the first spherical and goes with Darnold at QB1.
Within the thoughts of second-season head coach Matt Rhule, it wasn’t as a result of he would not see brilliant futures within the QBs who have been out there, it is that he is assured in the place Darnold can take his workforce.
“I like these guys and I feel they’re gonna be nice NFL gamers. I simply suppose for us, once we bought Sam and figuring out he is 23-years-old, simply turned 24, we simply felt like Sam plus one other participant can be higher for the workforce total,” Rhule mentioned on the Wealthy Eisen Present. “We’re simply making an attempt to construct the entire workforce and I simply imagine in Sam, I imagine that he deserves the chance to exit and play with us. I feel these different younger quarterbacks are gonna be unbelievable gamers, however the hit charge on first-round quarterbacks is not actual, actual excessive, and to have an opportunity to get Jaycee Horn and have Sam Darnold, we simply sort of felt like, ‘Hey that is two for one.’ Now, we simply have to verify Sam’s a terrific participant for us.”
As talked about by Rhule, Darnold’s set to show 24 in June and is not all that a lot older than the 22-year-old Fields and Jones. He is nonetheless (hopefully) a creating quarterback, who’s set to play for his third head coach in 4 seasons and most significantly getting a second likelihood to show he is a franchise quarterback. Because the doubt concerning Darnold floated within the pre-draft air, it seems to have been undone by feedback akin to Rhule’s and the workforce’s decision to pick up Darnold’s fifth-year option.
The USC product has emerged from three tough seasons in New York by which he performed underneath two head coaches, behind an often-porous offensive line and sometimes with out a lot of a supporting solid within the receiving and speeding corps. The No. 3 choose of the 2018 NFL Draft, Darnold’s tenure with the Jets noticed him compile 8,097 yards passing, 45 touchdowns and 39 interceptions. In his closing marketing campaign in Gotham, he had career-worsts with 9 landing passes, 2,208 yards and a 72.7 passer ranking.
So the query lingers surrounding Darnold as as to if he generally is a bona fide NFL beginning quarterback or if what was seen in New York is the actual Darnold.
Rhule likes what he is seen sufficient from Darnold for the rebuilding Panthers to trade for him.
“I can not bear in mind what we have been watching a minimize of and Sam was enjoying on the opposite aspect of the ball and a pair instances he made some throws and Phil Snow, our defensive coordinator, was like, ‘Man, that child appears like Matt Stafford.’ And so, we put a pair video games on, that is the defensive employees and so they have been all like, ‘You understand what, each sport we watch, he makes a few big-time performs,’ and there needs to be some meat on the bone there,” Rhule mentioned. “So, sort of went by the method and saved watching him and going again and watching him in school and watching his professional day after which going again and watching his first 12 months in a unique offense and the second 12 months and his third 12 months. So, when the compensation was sufficient the place we did not have to surrender what we thought was an excessive amount of that will harm our workforce and an opportunity to get him right here, we might watched a lot tape on him that we noticed sufficient shining moments.”
Clearly, Rhule and Co. are aiming for greater than just some shining moments from Darnold when he hits the sector in Panthers blue, black and silver. They usually’re hoping that the transfer south from New York to Carolina will likely be be a transfer up for Darnold’s profession — and the Panthers franchise.
“After getting him right here, speaking to Robby Anderson who performed with him, speaking to different guys who performed with him, there’s not many guys who’ve been his teammates who’s saying something unhealthy about him,” Rhule mentioned. “Like, all of them have believed in him and imagine that he will be good. Listening to a few of his former coaches discuss him, they imagine that he will be good and so I’ve all the time been sort of a nurture vs. nature man, I feel individuals should be in the appropriate conditions and, you realize, hopefully a change of surroundings is what he wants.”