Kiper’s draft ranking: No. 2 QB and No. 5 overall prospect.
Darnold couldn’t beat out Max Browne as a redshirt freshman in 2016, but when Browne was benched after three games, people in the NFL took notice. There was at least some can-he-do-it-again sense about Darnold early this season, after a dazzling 31-touchdown, nine-interception 2016 season and a fantastic Rose Bowl performance against Penn State. Some early-season struggles in 2017 pointed to the concerns NFL evaluators had (and still have) about his footwork and some of his decision-making.
But those same evaluators recognize that USC was affected negatively by graduation and injury issues this season, and the way Darnold has played since Halloween has affirmed what scouts love about his abilities and makeup. It’s not certain he will even come out — and some in the league believe he could benefit from another year in college. But if Darnold does enter the draft, the overall package of potential and college performance makes him a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick. He went first in McShay’s debut mock draft.
From Kiper’s Big Board: I think Darnold has a chance to be special, and I believe in his talent long term. Darnold has a big frame, makes quick decisions and is an accurate, natural passer.
McShay’s draft ranking: No. 2 QB and No. 3 overall prospect. From McShay’s Top 32: His accuracy is terrific and he has special intangibles, but there is definitely a question now as to if he’ll declare for the draft.
Fans began chanting M-V-P at DeRozan late in overtime, and his play this year may warrant some consideration. The Raptors’ all-star is averaging about 25 points on 48 percent shooting from the field and a much-improved 33 percent from downtown. He is also averaging a career-high five assists per game in a season where he is facilitating for the Raptors more often than not.
DeRozan’s play has propelled the Raptors to a 25-10 record, five wins behind the Celtics and just a few hairs above the reigning Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers. And if Toronto keeps playing this good all season, their playoff fate could be just a little bit brighter than last season’s second-round sweep at the hand of LeBron James and the Cavs.
Any time a player sets a new team record in scoring, it can be easy to overlook other stat lines. But Giannis Antetokounmpo battled DeRozan’s career night with a monster game of his own.