LOS ANGELES – The USC pro day on Wednesday marked the last chance we will have to see former Trojan quarterback Sam Darnold in action before next month's NFL 2018 Draft. If the training was indeed Darnold's final argument, he made a very convincing case as to why he deserves to be the first global pick.
Here are my findings from his performance, which I was able to see live and in person along with dozens of NFL decision makers, including those from the teams that have the two best selections (Browns and Giants).
1) I spoke with a handful of teams here on the professional day who are not in the top 10 this year, and they all said they can not see how Darnold does not end up being the first global pick.
I'd be surprised if he's not the type for the Browns at No. 1. This professional day alone helped his case.
2 ) One of the things about the pro days is that they are very rehearsed and scripted, so it was fun to see Darnold react to the rainy weather on Wednesday and not lose the rhythm. He threw the ball very well despite conditions on the USC campus.
I saw Darnold throw during a workout on a windy day about a month ago. It was dry that day. I thought he threw it even better on Wednesday in humid weather than in dry weather. He is a competitive man, and demonstrated in the way he successfully passed the elements.
The pro day of Andrew Luck at Stanford in 2012 is as good as a workout as I have seen it for a quarterback. He threw himself into the wind that day and he looked great. Darnold does not have the same arm strength as Luck, but I think Darnold's anticipation and timing were exceptional on Wednesday. The touch he exhibited stood out. It was one of the best pro days I've seen.
3) This day pro received a lot of publicity, and all eyes were on Darnold. He did not pitch in the NFL Scouting Combine earlier this month, which caused even more intrigue for his pro day, but unlike the combined, when he shared the stage with the other best passers-by in the draft, that day was Darnold's.
I needed to prove that I could do each throw, which I did easily. He tightened his delivery a bit, which was good to see. He had a tendency to get a little bit in his pocket last season, and I thought he did a great job with his balance and weight transfer on Wednesday.
Its launch is still a bit long, but it's really explosive and fast. You could see that again during your training.
4) Darnold's main problem is to fail, and that remains a concern even after the pro day. A workout in shorts and a T-shirt is not a place where you can do anything to answer questions about whether you have improved in that area. You can see on the tape that Darnold removes the hand he does not throw from the ball when they press it. That was something you could not take into account on the professional day without players approaching him. Their turnovers are really the only problem for the teams. Can you train that from him? Most of the evaluators I spoke with here on the professional day felt that it is something they can train. Now, I know that there are some explorers who still see it as an important point of friction, but I think most of them are not aware of it.
5) My player comp for Darnold is Tony Romo and a couple of league evaluators that I polled this week agree that it's the best comparison for the QB Trojans. I definitely saw Darnold's Romo shadows on Wednesday. Some of the throws he made all over his body looked like those Romo passes we've seen over the years. It was fun to watch.
Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks .