LOS ANGELES — Given an out, USC quarterback Sam Darnold declined to move up his throwing session at his school’s pro day on Wednesday, choosing instead to throw under a steady rain in front of a throng of NFL decision-makers.
“I don’t think it would have been fair to change the schedule with all of the other guys training for the pro day,” Darnold said. “So I just wanted my guys to be comfortable — my teammates — that was first and foremost.
“But I also think it was a perfect opportunity to be able to throw in the rain and show these guys I could throw in the rain.”
The decision proved fruitful, as Darnold looked impressive in making about 60 or so throws in front of a Cleveland Browns contingent that included owner Jimmy Haslam in the stands, with general manager John Dorsey, head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley on the sidelines.
“One of my first football experiences was playing mud football in the rain,” Darnold said, smiling. “So it was cool to come out here and throw one last time with the guys that I’ve been throwing with for years now.”
The Browns hold the No. 1 overall selection in this year’s NFL draft, and Darnold said he met with Cleveland brass and participated in a private workout Tuesday.
Darnold said he also met with decision-makers from the New York Giants before his workout. The Giants hold the No. 2 overall pick.
Giants head coach Pat Shurmur was on hand to watch Darnold’s workout, along with New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles, Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks and Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn.
Darnold said he has a couple visits lined up before the draft in April, but he did not disclose the teams.
“Sam is not the kid you speed date; he’s the kid you marry. … People will fall in love the more they get to know him.”
Jordan Palmer, Darnold’s QB coach
Darnold did not throw at the NFL scouting combine in February. However, he said it was important to answer questions about his throwing mechanics at his pro day, and he believes he’s worthy of the No. 1 overall pick.
“I feel like I’m definitely capable of going No. 1,” Darnold said. “What the Browns are doing right now is really good. They’ve got a lot of good pieces right now. I think going there and being able to lead the way I lead and play the way I play, I think it would be a good situation.”
Darnold said he has been working with personal quarterback coach Jordan Palmer to try to get his hips looser so he can use them more when he throws.
Darnold also has spent time with former NFL head coach Bill Parcells to help get prepared for life in the pros.
“I think the main thing with him was just get back in the huddle — that was the main phrase he kept saying,” Darnold said about Parcells. “No matter what the score is on Sunday, no matter what happens on Sunday, Monday or Thursday, just get back in the huddle that next week.”
Palmer addressed Darnold’s quiet, unassuming nature, saying that the quarterback’s level-headed approach will be a plus for NFL teams willing to draft the USC product.
“Sam is not the kid you speed date; he’s the kid you marry,” Palmer said. “So as he goes through this process and gets to spend some time with these other teams, it’s very predictable for people like myself that are in his circle that people will fall in love the more they get to know him.”