8. Sam Darnold (2018)
Sam Darnold went from unheralded backup to quarterback of one of the most prestigious college football programs in the nation in USC, and his combination of elusiveness in the pocket and ability to make big plays amidst chaos was reminiscent of a bigger Tony Romo. Despite sitting behind more heralded recruits, Darnold eventually won the starting job for the Trojans, and threw for 31 touchdowns in his first season of starting.
Darnold declared after his junior season, and for much of the pre-draft process in the spring of 2018, everyone assumed Darnold being picked by the Cleveland Browns, with the #1 overall pick, was a foregone conclusion, and there were many who thought the New York Jets — who selected Darnold with the 3rd overall pick — got the best quarterback in that draft.