– Sam, five USC players have been the first player in the draft. Every quarterback, especially the first four or five, everyone says, “I should be the first player taken.” Realistically, you grew up wanting to be USC’s quarterback. What would it mean for you, though, to be that coveted, the sixth player in USC history, which would give them the most players taken, to be that number one selection in 2018 Draft?
SAM DARNOLD: I’m not going to lie to you. It’d be awesome to be that number one pick. And with the teams sitting up there, with the opportunity to maybe trade up. Or the Browns, where they’re sitting at right now. I think everyone has an opportunity to win in the near future. So I’d be really happy to be the number one pick. But at the same time, I can’t worry about that. And I’m really just looking forward to being with the team that wants me.
– What’s the pros and cons to going to Cleveland, number one, or staying here in New York, with the Giants, Jets, either one of those two teams, at two, three?
SAM DARNOLD: Yeah, I think there’s pros and cons to both. I’m not going to sit here and point them out. But there’s definitely–
– Good answer.
SAM DARNOLD: Pros and cons to both. Yeah. I’ve been trained very well.
– How much of this, how much of, since you stopped playing, has been training on stuff like that? Like how to not step in it? Because everyone wants to talk to you. And people, this time of year, are looking for one thing to tear someone down about. One comment, or one thing. How much of that has actually been time spent on training for things like that?
SAM DARNOLD: Yeah, I think there’s a lot of training that goes into it. I was trained really well at USC, though, with the media team there, being able to understand what goes into it, and the answers that reporters are looking for. And they’re really just looking for tidbits every now and then.
– Let’s go on the football field. What does Sam Darnold need to improve, to take his game to the next level in the NFL? I think just taking care of the ball, first of all. But then also, being able to understand what the defense is trying to do to me, pre-snap, and then really understanding what they’re doing post as well. So there’s so much that goes into it. But I’m just trying to get better every single day, day in and day out.
– Another follow-up . I have to ask you this. I think you’re the best quarterback in this year’s draft. I think you’re the most ready, right now, to take over an NFL franchise. What do you think makes you different from the other three quarterbacks that are ranked, all with first round grades?
SAM DARNOLD: Well first of all, I appreciate it. And then secondly, I think, I’m not going to sit here and tell you what I do better than all the rest of the guys. That’s not for me to say. But I think I’m a very natural leader. And I also think that I like to give people hope in the locker room, whether it’s how I play, or the way that I act off the field, on and off the field. I think there’s just something about me that’s all but different.
– Sam, next year at this time, you’re going to be able to tell people you played in the same league with Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady, and the guys that came in before you, and did probably exactly what you want to do, who stepped up, who were leaders on and off the field. Obviously, it’s big shoes you have to step into, to be the face of a franchise, which is most likely what you’re going to be. Is there a guy out there that you sort of mirror your game after, who you’d love to try to follow in their footsteps a little bit, with both what they do on and off the field?
SAM DARNOLD: On and off the field, not necessarily. I think on the field, I look at guys like Aaron Rodgers, the way that he plays. But at the same time, I’m just trying to be the best me that I can be. And that’s really my goal as a quarterback. But I do, I watch Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Brees, all those guys that do what they do every single Sunday, Monday, Thursday.
– What about when you were like seven years old? Who’s the poster you had up in your room?
SAM DARNOLD: Tom Brady.
– Because Brady is 100. So when you were seven, you had Tom Brady–