5 reasons the Bills should not trade up for Sam Darnold
By: Evan Zinger
Quarterback Sam Darnold has been praised highly around the NFL and is considered by to be one of the top quarterbacks in the 2018 draft. However, UCLA’s Josh Rosen has seemed to have overtaken him as the top QB prospect in recent weeks.
If Rosen is selected before Darnold with the Cleveland Browns at the top of the draft, that leaves New York Giants at the second pick. The Giants could take Darnold or pass on him.
Teams that are in search of a QB include the Broncos, Jets, and Cardinals. Another could be the Buffalo Bills. If any wanted to select Darnold, they’d likely trade up to do so. \
Here are five reasons why trading up to select Darnold would be a mistake:
Too many holes: Whether it comes to depth, losing starters in free agency, or looking for upgrades, the Bills have a ton of draft capital and it would be a waste to use it on a wild card in Darnold. While one of their needs would be QB with Tyrod Taylor, who’s likely to either be gone or have a restructured contract with their plan involving using him as a mentor, that is only one position. The Bills also have needs at linebacker, defensive tackle, defensive end, and right tackle. The Bills have six picks in the first three rounds and that would help fill those holes. While QB is the most important position, the Bills do not have to trade up in order to get their man.
Risky business: The 2018 draft class is full of great QB prospects. Having said that, Rosen and Darnold seem to be the consensus one and two, not just as QB prospects, but as overall. The last time that happened was the 2012 draft, where Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III went first and second. Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, as well as Jared Goff and Carson Wentz went one and two in later drafts, but in those drafts there was discussion over who those picks would be. This year, there really isn’t that discussion. One and two will likely be Rosen and Darnold. With the teams that need QBs, the Bills might get into a bidding war, or the Giants could fleece the Bills, or another team, knowing exactly who they are taking.
Too costly: Considering the position the Bills are picking with two lower first round picks (21st & 22nd), the Bills would almost certainly have to give up a first rounder next year. If Darnold were to struggle in a certain area, or the offense struggled in a certain area, it would be harder for the Bills to turn to the future draft to build around Darnold. Going back to the 2012 draft, the Redskins gave up three first rounders and a second-round pick to get Griffin. While the Bills would not have to give up quite as much as that, the advantage of knowing who the team trading up is going to target benefits the Giants in trade negotiations.
Dropping down the board: Josh Allen. Luke Falk. Lamar Jackson. Those are all QBs that have a chance of being around when the Bills pick. They may have to trade up for Mason Rudolph, who would be a great option for the Bills. He is a pocket passer, is very good reading defenses, and has tremendous leadership ability. He lacks arm strength, but can make up for it with his ability to get the ball out quickly and get it to the right receiver. Baker Mayfield is also available — who may just be the most pro-ready QB talent wise — if the Bills want also want trade up for him, but due to his off-field antics and attitude, he doesn’t seem like a good fit for a Sean McDermott coached squad. Rudolph would be a good player to have sit for a year and would suit an offense that wants to have the ability to pass more frequently.
Questionable project QB: Above all else, Darnold is a gamble. He has all the potential in the world, but it will require a ton of work in order for him to get where he needs to be. He severely regressed this past season, and while he started to show improvement in the second half of the season, he had a poor showing in his playoff game against Ohio State. Darnold is comparable to Jets’ QB Christian Hackenburg. Darnold has a higher ceiling, a higher floor, and does not struggle to the extremes that Hackenburg did and likely still does, hence why the Jets have not even tried playing him. Darnold does, however, share the same description as Hackenburg. He has the look of a QB, has solid arm strength, and that potential. Darnold also makes erratic throws, makes too many easily avoidable mistakes, such as fumbling snaps, and is sometimes just incredibly lucky and is going to be overdrafted. His game against Colorado embodies him as a whole perfectly: