Sports | July 7, 2022 1:23 pm

Baker Mayfield-Sam Darnold Carolina QB Competition to Be a Battle of Busts?

The first two quarterbacks selected in 2018 are both vying to be the Panthers' starter

NFL quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold at MetLife Stadium in 2020 in East Rutherford
Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold are going to battle it out in Carolina.
Sarah Stier/Getty

When Baker Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, faced off against Sam Darnold, the No. 3 overall pick from the same draft, in 2020, the New York Jets were able to pull off an upset and knocked off the Browns 23-16.

Mayfield, who was traded to the Carolina Panthers yesterday, lost two fumbles in the game while Darnold, who was traded to the Panthers prior to last season, tossed two touchdown passes in the win.

That was then. Now, the first two quarterbacks selected in 2018 will be battling it out for the starting quarterback job and possibly their NFL futures as whoever loses out in Carolina will likely be on their way out of the NFL sooner rather than later.

Injured for portions of last season, Darnold posted a 9/13 TD/INT ratio and was sacked 35 times in 12 games for the Panthers as the team floundered after a relatively strong start. Mayfield was also banged up for the Browns and limped his way to the finish line with a shoulder injury that contributed to his play regressing during the 2021 season after a relatively strong 2020 campaign (the Jets game notwithstanding).

On the surface, it would appear Mayfield would have a leg up to get the starting gig despite Darnold being more familiar with Carolina’s system as the former Brown has outperformed the ex-Jet throughout the duration of their relatively short NFL careers. However, neither player has a winning record as a starting quarterback at the NFL level and both have a career pass completion percentage hovering around a very average 60%. In fact, if you look at their career averages, they are shockingly similar.

Per Game Table
Passing Rushing
Rk Player From To Cmp Att Yds TD Int Sk Yds Att Yds TD
1Sam Darnold2018202119.432.5212.
2Baker Mayfield2018202119.832.1235.
Provided by View Stathead Tool Used
Generated 7/7/2022.

Those numbers are not very impressive and are likely one of the reasons why oddsmakers didn’t significantly change their predictions for the Panthers despite Mayfield being dealt to Carolina on Wednesday. Following the trade, DraftKings Sportsbook kept Carolina’s Super Bowl odds (130-1) and odds to win the NFC (60-1) unchanged and made just a slight shift in the Panthers’ odds of winning the NFC South (12-1 to 10-1).

Clearly, whether it’s Mayfield or Darnold, the best bet to make on the Panthers is that they won’t be very good.