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McShay: Why I still believe in Darnold, Lock and six other young NFL players

  • ESPN College Football and NFL Draft Analyst
  • Joined ESPN in 2006
  • Played quarterback in high school and was a backup QB for the University of Richmond.

When an NFL team uses an early-round pick on a prospect, it has high expectations for him to develop into an above-average every-day starter. But every player, roster and situation are different, as are development time frames. So while some might be willing to write off a handful of high selections from the past few draft classes already, I’m not so sure that’s a good idea just yet.

Here are eight players who I think can still develop into high-end starters in the NFL and meet their draft value. Some haven’t put it all together just yet, while others need a better situation and/or supporting cast. Either way, these young players can all still make the jump, and I’m not giving up on their doing so just yet.

Note: I didn’t include players from the 2020 draft class, as the sample size is too small. Instead, this list is made up of players drafted in 2019 or earlier.


Sam Darnold, QB, New York Jets

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