USC came away with a 28-23 win over UCLA Saturday night, but for scouts watching the matchup between Trojans signal-caller Sam Darnold and the Bruins' Josh Rosen, it's hard to ignore that UCLA's quarterback looks to be the more pro-ready prospect.
ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit noted as much during the game.
"I love both of these guys (Rosen and Darnold)," the former Ohio State quarterback said. "But I think Darnold needs another year of college football."
At 6-4, 218 pounds, Rosen has the size of an NFL quarterbacks, and he has the ability to make all of the throws on the field, including ones that make scouts salivate. His touch on the 18- to 35-yard pass is simply superb.
As for Darnold, the Trojans' quarterback has a ways to go in the intermediate passing game, and he makes the bad mistake far too often. While that is understandable for a redshirt sophomore, it's something scouts want to see him clean up.
But his ability to extend the play and keep his eyes down the field is second to none in the 2018 draft class, and the way he can complete those passes when he has to is unmatched by any quarterback that is draft eligible for the next two years.
While Darnold may need some more seasoning, we're splitting hairs here. Both quarterbacks have NFL potential, but it appears Rosen will be better out of the gate.That's not a shot at Darnold, it's just a compliment to Rosen.
Either way, watch both guys play. They're a pleasure to see in action.
Here are some of Saturday's top NFL Draft-eligible players
Tremaine Edmunds, OLB, Virginia Tech — The junior outside linebacker is projected to go in the first round, and he showed why in a 20-14 win over Pittsburgh. The 6-5, 236 pounder tallied seven sacks (five solo), along with 2 1/2 tackles for loss.
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State — Barkley made waves by saying after Penn State's 56-44 win over Nebraska that he plans to play in the team's bowl game this year, but his performance during the game shows why he could be the No. 1 overall pick. Barkley rushed for 158 yards on 17 carries and scored three touchdowns on the ground, and for good measure, he also caught six passes for 66 yards.
Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern — The senior running back went over 1,000 yards for the fourth straight season by rushing for 166 yards on 31 carries in a 39-0 win over Minnesota.
Kurt Benkert, QB, Virginia — He will get called out for throwing a pick-six that ignited Miami's defense Saturday, but he had his team up 28-14 in the second half against one of the best teams in the country. The senior has the size at 6-4, 215 pounds of an NFL quarterback and the arm strength as well. Putting up the numbers he did against Miami, completing 28 of 37 passes for 384 yards and four touchdowns, will catch a scout's eye.
Jaquan Johnson, DB, Miami — Johnson led the Hurricanes' defense and with nine tackles (four solo), one sack and the interception returned for a touchdown.
Mo Hurst, DT, Michigan — Michigan was going to have a hard time beating Wisconsin with the state of its quarterback position, but Hurst did all he could to try to make it happen. The 6-2, 280-pound senior defensive tackle had five tackles, including half a sack, in the 24-10 loss to the Badgers. Wisconsin was on the ropes for much of the game, and that's because the Wolverines' rush defense was stout. Hurst, a projected first-round pick, helped hold Wisconsin to 4.55 yards per carry, but 84 of the Badgers' 182 yards on the ground came on two carries. Michigan held a great rushing Wisconsin team to 2.57 yards per carry on every other attempt.
Byron Pringle, WR, Kansas State — The junior wide receiver became the first player in Big 12 history to catch three TDs and return a kick for a touchdown in a single game when he accomplished the feat in Kansas State's win over Oklahoma State. He also caught four passes for 166 yards.
Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia — The 5-10, 225 pound senior running back keeps on trucking for the Bulldogs, as he tallied 151 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries in Georgia's 42-13 win over Kentucky.
Riley Ferguson, QB, Memphis — He's a name not many know, but he's one to watch on Days 2 and 3 of the 2018 NFL Draft. He's 6-4 and 210 pounds, and his numbers Saturday more than back up his draft prospects. The senior quarterback went 21-of-27 passing for 320 yards and two touchdowns and an interception. He also rushed for 29 yards on six carries for three more touchdowns.
James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State — He's not the biggest wide receiver at 5-11, 200 pounds, but the Oklahoma State Cowboy has a huge game, and he showed it again with eight catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns in a 45-40 loss to Kansas State.