Sam Darnold: Product of his environment or NFL Draft bust?

(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /
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Carolina Panthers
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

The Carolina Panthers have their new quarterback in Sam Darnold, who now gets to prove his worth away from the New York Jets.

It didn’t come as much of a surprise to see the Carolina Panthers bring in another veteran quarterback before the 2021 NFL Draft. Failed bids for Matthew Stafford and Deshaun Watson were well documented and their search finally ended with a move to acquire Sam Darnold from the New York Jets.

This represents a risk whichever way one looks at it. The Panthers gave up three draft selections over the next two years in the hope Darnold can turn his career around, with the team set to get one selection back if they trade Teddy Bridgewater in the not-too-distant future.

Carolina is going to pick up Darnold’s fifth-year option, which gives them a considerable period of time to work out whether he is the man to lead them moving forward. If things don’t work out, at least they gave the player every opportunity to rid himself of the stereotypes that blighted his time with the Jets.

The former No. 3 overall selection has a tremendous amount going for him from a skill standpoint. Darnold has a rocket for an arm and has no trouble making plays on the move when things aren’t developing as expected. However, there is the obvious concern regarding a lack of production that cannot be ignored and it’s going to take a substantial turnaround in a different environment for the USC product to start trending in the right direction.

Everything is in place for Darnold to succeed providing the Panthers get a franchise left tackle during the draft. But the question remains; was the signal-caller simply a product of his environment in New York, or is he yet another high-end bust?