2018 NFL Draft: Sam Darnold goes 3rd; 4 Pac-12ers taken in top 15
Two Pac-12 quarterbacks were selected in the top 10 of the 2018 NFL Draft Thursday night, with USC's Sam Darnold going third overall to the New York Jets and UCLA's Josh Rosen going 10th to the Arizona Cardinals. It marks just the third time ever that the Pac-12 has had two quarterbacks go in the first round and the first time that two Pac-12 quarterbacks went in the top 10. Overall, four Pac-12 players were selected in the first round, with Washington's Vita Vea going 12th to Tampa Bay and UCLA's Kolton Miller going 15th to Oakland. The four first-round selections from the Pac-12 are tied for third most in the nation among conferences with the Big Ten, trailing the SEC's 10 first-round pick and ACC's six.
USC quarterback Sam Darnold was selected third overall by the New York Jets, giving the Trojans their 81st first-round draft pick in school history (by far tops in the Pac-12). The newest Jet threw for 4,143 yards as a redshirt sophomore in 2017 to lead USC to its first Pac-12 title since 2008 and a New Year's Six bowl game for the second consecutive season. While he was the second quarterback taken Thursday night behind Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield (going first overall to the Cleveland Browns), many analysts think that Darnold is the best quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft. The Jets know a thing or two about USC quarterbacks:
Sam Darnold is the No. 3 overall pick by the Jets.
The last USC quarterback selected in the first round was Mark Sanchez with the fifth pick in 2009 ... by the Jets. pic.twitter.com/Y9X8UpvLAv
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 27, 2018
Darnold is the 502nd USC player selected in the NFL Draft, the most for any school in the country (Notre Dame is second with 496 after Thursday night).
Seeing a certain UCLA signal caller still on the board and potentially worried that he might not slide past Miami at No. 11, the Arizona Cardinals traded up from the 15th pick to No. 10 overall to select Josh Rosen. Perhaps his "off-field persona" cost him a few draft spots, but Rosen, like Darnold, was considered by some to be the best quarterback prospect in his draft class -- on NFL Network, Stanford head coach David Shaw called Rosen the most natural passer to come out of college since Andrew Luck. As a junior in 2017, Rosen completed 63 percent of his passes en route to 3,756 yards through the air and 26 touchdown passes against 10 picks. Rosen's selection gives the Bruins a first-round draft pick for the fifth time in the last six seasons and is their highest selection since Anthony Barr went ninth overall in 2014.
The first member of the 2018 UCLA Football Draft Class, presented by 3 Day Blinds. | pic.twitter.com/rZP56Tg9MI
— UCLA Football (@UCLAFootball) April 27, 2018
Rosen's selection made him the fourth quarterback to go in the top 10 in 2018, the first time that has happened in NFL Draft history. And, with Lamar Jackson of Louisville going 32nd to the Baltimore Ravens, it marks the third time in NFL history that five quarterbacks went in the first round.
A bit of a shock according to some, Vita Vea heard his name called 12th overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team that traded down from its original spot at No. 7. The Washington defensive tackle who has been called the NFL Draft's "biggest freak," Vea was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2017 after posting 5.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in helping the Huskies to the Fiesta Bowl. With his selection, Vea becomes the fifth Husky to go in the first round in the last four years. The last Washington defensive tackle to go No. 12 overall? Danny Shelton in 2014. Not bad company to be in.
— Coach Petersen (@CoachPeteUW) April 27, 2018
UCLA offensive tackle Kolton Miller gave the Pac-12 its fourth selection in the top 15 with the Oakland Raiders taking him 15th overall. Now tasked with protecting three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Derek Carr's blindside, Miller was named second team All-Pac-12 in 2017. ESPN NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. believes Miller could be one of the best tackles in professional football in two to three years. Miller is the first UCLA offensive lineman to go in the first round since Jonathan Ogden was selected fourth overall by the Baltimore Ravens in 1996.
Your newest Raider.
— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) April 27, 2018
Pac-12.com will have continued coverage of the 2018 NFL Draft with the second and third rounds on Friday and the final four rounds on Saturday.