Unlocking the mystery of which highly drafted quarterbacks will work out in the NFL and which won’t can come down to things that aren’t measurable. Intangibles matter, to some extent.
Teams who will have a chance to draft USC quarterback Sam Darnold early in the first round of this year’s draft should take note of what he did to help out two of his college teammates.
USC running back Ronald Jones and receiver Deontay Burnett had hamstring injuries that prevented them from fully working out at the school’s pro day for NFL scouts. So they had a makeup pro day on Thursday, and according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal, Darnold dropped everything and went back to Los Angeles to throw to them when Jones asked him. People at USC were surprised to see Darnold, but Jones asked him on Wednesday if he could throw and Darnold made sure to be there.
Darnold was in Ohio on Wednesday to meet with the Browns, and when Jones asked him if he could throw — the better the quarterback, the better receivers will look in a workout like that — Darnold got an early flight and was back in Los Angeles at 6:30 a.m. according to the Akron Beacon Journal.
Darnold had already impressed in a fine pro day performance last month, so he didn’t have anything to gain by throwing again. In fact, a poor showing with NFL teams on hand (the Browns, who have the No. 1 pick, had a scout at the workout according to Ulrich) could have hurt him. He did it anyway.
“When you talk about what kind of guy he is, who does that when you have everything to lose and nothing to gain by doing that?” USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin said in an interview with the Akron Beacon Journal. “He had a teammate call him out of the blue. It wasn’t something that was planned.
“He gets a call yesterday, and he drops everything else. [Darnold said], ‘Yes, I’ll be there for you, man,’ and gets on an airplane, lands in L.A. this morning, comes over at like 6:30 in the morning and throws for Ronald Jones. I mean, it’s crazy. And everyone’s like, ‘What, Sam?’ No one expected him to be here, and he’s here because he said, ‘Hey, man, my teammate called. He needed me.’ So he came. That’s unbelievable.”
It’s early April, so any positive or negative story about a draft prospect will get an overreaction. Darnold doing a solid for a couple of college teammates doesn’t mean he’ll be a Pro Bowl quarterback, and it might not affect his draft stock at all. Cynically you can also wonder if Darnold and his representation knew how the story would look to potential employers, though Darnold doesn’t seem like the attention-seeking type.
But the Browns or any other team high up in the draft should take note of it. It might seem like a minor thing, but don’t teams want a quarterback who is a leader like that? At very least, if the Browns have Darnold at the top of their board, they should feel even better about it now.
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