Carolina Panthers' Sam Darnold says he's confident he can be one of the NFL's best quarterbacks

A 17-32 record as an NFL starter and the danger of being changed throughout the offseason initially by Deshaun Watson and now perhaps by third-round choice Matt Corral hasn’t made Carolina Panthers starter Sam Darnold any less positive in his capabilities.

“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 stated Tuesday, the very first time he has actually talked to press reporters because offseason exercises started.

Coach Matt Rhule, who hasn’t eliminated generating a veteran eventually, presumed regarding state Darnold is experimenting an “edge” he hasn’t seen prior to.

“What Sam has been through this offseason has been very hard,” Rhule stated. “Your back’s against the wall. Everyone’s kind of questioning whether you can do this or not. We’ve seen a guy who has shown up who has a little more edge to him. He’s very, very focused.”

But going from focused to among the very best quarterbacks in the league would be a huge leap.

Since the New York Jets chose him with the 3rd choice of the 2018 draft, Darnold has actually regularly ranked as one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL. His overall QBR of 33.2 in 2021, his very first year with Carolina, ranked 29th amongst certified quarterbacks.

He ranked 33rd in 2020 with a 32.9 ranking, 25th in 2019 at 45.9 and 28th in 2018 at 45.9.

In 4 seasons, he has actually tossed nearly as lots of interceptions (52) as he has goal passes (54). He has a 59.8% profession conclusion portion because 2018 that likewise ranks amongst the worst in the league.

Such numbers are why the Panthers wanted to quit 3 first-round choices and gamers for Watson, eventually traded by the Houston Texans to the Cleveland Browns. They are why Carolina stays thinking about obtaining a veteran quarterback.

Among those the Panthers are watching on, according to a league source, is Baker Mayfield, if the Browns consent to pay the majority of his $18.8 million for 2022 or launch him.

“Everyone, including myself, knows the situation,” Darnold stated. “But with that being said, it doesn’t change my mindset. I have a great attitude about myself going into every day.”

That state of mind is concentrated on enhancing his footwork, which has actually been a problem because he showed up in the NFL.

“There were times last year when my feet got very … just, loose is a good term … chaotic,” Darnold stated. “It’s just having confidence in my feet and the system to go out there and put the ball where it needs to be.”

Darnold stopped short, concurring this is a make-or-break year for him as he goes into the 5th and last year of his novice offer.

“If I were to think about it like that, I could get caught up in the wash,” Darnold stated. “When I’m in the meeting room, I’m focused on learning the system. When I’m on the practice field, I’m focused on executing that play.

“And even in the video games, you’re not concentrated on: ‘This is an agreement year, I much better ball out.’ As a quarterback, you have actually got to be consistent. You’ve got to correspond every day and every play. So it is difficult to consider what if, or what can occur in the future.”

Darnold’s future now is with new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, the fourth time in his young career that the former Southern California star has had to learn a new system.

“It’s truly simply heading out there and playing every play like it’s my last,” Darnold said. “If I begin thinking of that other things … playing quarterback is hard enough.”

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