From one former USC quarterback to another, Carson Palmer thinks the future is bright for Sam Darnold.
In an interview on The Jake Asman Show on SportsMap Radio this week, the former Bengals and Cardinals quarterback praised Darnold, explaining that the 23-year-old has the potential to be a quality quarterback at this level.
"Sam Darnold can play," Palmer told Asman. "Sam Darnold's a franchise quarterback without a doubt. I don't know many quarterbacks that could succeed in the situation he's been in for his first couple years in the league."
To Palmer, it's Darnold's poise in the pocket and ability to use his legs that show he's capable of turning his career around. The key, however, is putting him in a position to excel with the right coaching staff.
"If Sam Darnold ends up with the right coach in the right organization, watch out. He can do it all," Palmer said. "He can throw every ball, he's extremely savvy in the pocket, something that a lot of people don't get much cred. I think his ability to stay inside the pocket, to manipulate the pocket, find soft spots in the pocket and deliver the ball is as good as anybody in the league. You also saw him take off and run and shock some people with his athleticism. There's no question in my mind Sam has the potential to be a great quarterback for years to come."
Darnold was picked third overall by New York in 2018, struggling to develop over his first three seasons in the NFL. This year he threw for only 2,208 yards, finishing a two-win campaign with the lowest QBR (40.2) and passer rating (72.7) of all qualifying quarterbacks.
Not everyone can succeed immediately after being drafted like Palmer did. The former top pick was drafted by the Bengals in 2003, making the Pro Bowl in both of his second and third seasons in the league. He went on to play for 14 years in the NFL, spending seven in Cincinnati and his final five seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.
There's a chance New York moves on from Darnold this offseason, whether it's acquiring another quarterback in a trade or adding a rookie with a first-round pick. Now that head coach Robert Saleh is in charge, bringing along a fresh coaching staff including offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, it's possible Darnold will make a huge improvement in 2021. Then again, Darnold may benefit more from a complete change of scenery, playing for another organization to start fresh and revitalize his career.
While the future is uncertain, Palmer reiterated that a quarterback's success is contingent upon playing for a good organization.
"A good organization has more of an ability to steer a successful career or a negative career than your actual athletic abilities," he said. "If you go to the wrong place, it can be a long career or a short career for a player depending on that organization."
Is that Saleh's group in New York or another franchise elsewhere? Only time will tell.
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