LOS ANGELES (CBS Sports) — One of the top quarterbacks available in this year’s NFL Draft put on a show Wednesday, perhaps complicating the Giants’ plans for the number 2 overall pick.
Since Sam Darnold decided not to throw at the combine, his showing at the USC pro day was more highly anticipated than the rest of the quarterbacks in the 2018 draft class, and Mother Nature added more intrigue to it.
Darnold executed his scripted throwing session in front of a plethora of NFL GMs, head coaches, and scouts — and 95 percent of it came with a steady downpour on USC’s practice field.
The redshirt sophomore wasn’t phased by the rain, and his passes didn’t lack zip, accuracy, or a tight spiral.
By all accounts of those on hand, Darnold absolutely aced his pro day in inclement weather.
So, who, exactly was in attendance for Darnold’s pro day? As you can probably imagine, the vast majority of the league was represented in some way, shape, or form on Wednesday morning.
While Big Blue has reportedly been leaning towards taking Penn State running back Saquon Barkley with the second pick, Darnold said he had dinner Monday night with the Giants, and Tuesday night featured dinner with the Browns. At this point, those are the only two clubs to have an official meeting with Darnold, but many more are sure to follow.
Pro days are typically safe havens for quarterbacks to operate pre-planned and rehearsed throws to familiar wide receivers, and almost all of them are indoors. With USC not having a domed practice facility featuring a full field, NFL decision-makers were afforded the luxury of seeing Darnold throw in a less-than-ideal environment.
At the combine, the consensus started to form that Josh Allen could be heading to the Browns at No. 1 overall. Over the past few days, that consensus has shifted to Darnold being selected with the first pick, and he definitely did not hurt himself at his pro day.
While Darnold did look very good during today’s workout, to me pro days are vastly overrated. However, that doesn’t mean they fail to create buzz leading into the draft, and Darnold’s has done that.
My issues with Darnold stem from areas of his game that don’t pop up during a pro day workout. He has a strange, elongated delivery that disrupts timing on longer passes and provides more opportunity for strip sacks. Also, his pocket presence is still a work in progress, as his feet lead to him getting off balance when under pressure. Lastly, his interception numbers are worrisome.
Overall, Darnold’s inherent skills are significantly ahead of 99.9 percent of 20-year-old, redshirt sophomore quarterbacks, and he made some of the most outrageous throws I saw in college football last season.
Where will he end up going in the draft? Obviously no one knows with any certainty at this point, but for teams that play in environments where poor weather can be an issue (read: Cleveland), Wednesday’s performance certainly did nothing to hurt his draft stock.