The University of Miami has been referred to as NFLU for the better part of a decade. The moniker comes from the school being an active pipeline to the NFL. Of late, The U is known more for the skill position alums than their offensive line counterparts.
Looking to shift that conversation back to the offensive trenches, the Hurricanes have two offensive line prospects who hope to hear their names called in late April at the 2018 NFL Draft. One of those offensive line prospects is Trevor Darling.
A six-foot-four, 300 plus pound offensive guard, Darling played at Miami for four seasons. Over the course of his collegiate career, Darling served as the Hurricanes’ starting left tackle and later moved along the line to be the team’s starting left guard in his senior year. The former Miami Central High School product has been one of the more coachable players on Miami’s roster since enrolling in the program.
With the exception of playing center, Darling has experience at every position along the offensive line. Darling has been a key cog along Miami’s line for his entire collegiate tenure. At the NFL, he is better suited to be an offensive guard than a tackle against better pass rushers. Darling wll be a prospect that will need to work on his reach blocking, but under the right circumstances and in the right system, would pay off if selected in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Path to the Draft and Measurables
Weight: 300 pounds
High School: Miami Central High School
Hometown: Miami Florida
Pass Blocker (better at blocking horizontally)
Darling looks like a natural when squatting and kicking back toward the pocket. It’s not often that you’ll see him get beaten by a speed rush or allow a blitzer to come free through his gap responsibility.
Watching film, you can see Darling move his head from the middle of the field to the edge of the offensive formation in search of a delayed blitz or stunt. One the best ways to not get beaten on a play is to have a line of vision on approaching threats, and Darling does this fairly well.
Working well with others is usually a comment reserved for a grade schooler’s report card, but it also applies to offensive linemen. Darling closes and seals out pass rushers well when working along with another blocker, thereby reducing the area and making sure to lay hands on the threat pass rusher to prevent escape.
Wax on; wax off. While Darling will never be mistaken for the Karate Kid, he does make great use of his hands against pass rushers. He does a good job of countering pass-rushers who throw their hands into his body by batting them down and then engulfing them with a pancake or walking them off the line of scrimmage like that bouncer who threw you out of Club Liv that one time.
Will not Move Mountains
In college football, you can get away with giving a good enough push and creating a hole. In the NFL, where the competition is much better, winning your matchup is paramount. Darling gets a decent push, yet it is rare to see him just dominate the defenders enough to back them off the line of scrimmage. While he does defeat rushers with hand moves, he does not overwhelm anyone with power.
Draft Projection: Undrafted
According to stats from Pro Football Focus, of Darling’s 463 pass blocking snaps, he allowed four sacks, five hits and five QB hurries in 2017 for a total pressures allowed of 14, with a pass-blocking efficiency grade of 97.5 that places him among the middle of the pack in the category among guards in the draft. Analytically, Darling illustrates promise at the next level. Questions remains as to what system would best suit his skill set in the pros. Whether he makes a living in a zone-blocking scheme or will be able to impose his will in a downhill man-blocking scheme. Having been a fixture on the Hurricanes offensive line for the better part of three seasons, the Miami born prospect should be a priority free agent signing that will look to make his case to be a pro in a training camp towards the end of fall.
Good luck, Trevor!