UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen may be wary of being drafted by the Cleveland Browns. His counterpart down the road, USC signal-caller Sam Darnold, however, insists he'd welcome the opportunity to play for the team that's already locked up the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the Trojans' Friday matchup with Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl, Darnold was asked about the prospect of being picked by the Browns. And unlike Rosen, who said on Tuesday he'd “rather be a lower pick at the right team than a higher at the wrong team," Darnold insisted he'd be just fine with whichever team picks him -- whenever it is he opts to declare for the draft.
“Whenever I come out for the NFL, I'd be honored to play for any team," Darnold told reporters when asked what he thought he'd look like in a Browns uniform. "It's been a dream of mine for some time to play in the NFL and any team that would want to give me that opportunity to be a part of their organization, it'd mean the world to me."
Per Nick Piotrowicz of the Toledo Blade, Darnold later added, "To be the No. 1 pick, that would be so special.”
Darnold's answer, of course, leaves some wiggle room. As a redshirt sophomore, he could opt to return to USC for either one or two more seasons, knowingly avoiding the Browns in the process.
Some have already speculated that Darnold might return to school for at least one more season and that he'd consider the teams at the top of the draft -- particularly the Browns -- when weighing his decision.
But should he enter the draft, Darnold's answer indicates he wouldn't only be OK with landing in Cleveland -- he'd embrace it. In his latest mock draft, ESPN's Todd McShay pegged the Browns to select Darnold, who's thrown for 3,787 yards and 26 touchdowns this season, with the No. 1 pick.
With his comments on Wednesday, the USC quarterback helped clear at least one hurdle in potentially turning that projection into a reality.