2018 NFL Draft: Sam Darnold shortening his throwing motion

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02: Quarterback Sam Darnold
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02: Quarterback Sam Darnold /

Although he is the clear favorite to be taken first overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, Sam Darnold knows that there is always room for improvement.

Josh Rosen, Lamar Jackson, Mason Rudolph, and Luke Falk have generated plenty of positive hype prior to the 2017 college football season. But USC Trojans redshirt sophomore Sam Darnold remains the pick of the litter among the quarterbacks eligible for the 2018 NFL Draft. There’s no guarantee that Darnold will declare, but the leader of the stacked class of signal-callers is already expected to be the first overall pick, likely joining one of several rebuilding teams.

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Most of the scouting reports on Darnold are filled with praise, but one area of criticism has been his throwing motion. Not everyone sees his delivery as a concern, as NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah wrote that his release is similar to Russell Wilson’s and not Byron Leftwich’s.

Despite the informed opinions of analysts like Jeremiah, Darnold is indeed looking to shorten his delivery as he prepares for his second season as USC’s starting quarterback. According to the Orange County Register‘s Joey Kaufman, Darnold is working with former NFL quarterback Jordan Palmer, who now works as a private quarterback coach. And, yes, Palmer is the younger brother of former USC legend Carson Palmer — the first overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft.

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Palmer believes that by shortening his throwing motion, Darnold can help avoid future wear-and-tear on his arm and can improve his accuracy. Current research shows that older quarterbacks have issues with holding up over the course of the season due to the stress associated with throwing passes so frequently. So it’s always a good idea to keep injury prevention and shoulder health in mind.

I would highly encourage following the link to read the full article, because Palmer gives plenty of insight into a quarterback’s throwing motion, including the concept of the throwing motion being a “circle”.

Although Darnold doesn’t necessarily need to tweak his throwing motion in order to be a top quarterback, it’s encouraging to see his dedication to becoming more efficient. Every offseason, Tom Brady works with Tom House on tweaking his throwing motion, and I’m sure the focus on mechanics plays into the New England Patriots passer’s ability to remain durable late into his career.

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It’s great to see this same focus from Darnold, who is coming off of a season in which he threw 31 touchdowns to just nine interceptions with a 67.2 percent completion rate.