Former USC quarterback Sam Darnold chose not to throw at the Scouting Combine. NFL Network chose to criticize Darnold for his decision, suggesting that he’s not a true competitor because he was unwilling to compete in something that, frankly, isn’t even a competition.
Darnold’s coach at USC takes issue with that characterization.
“In my 24 years of experience all in college I have never been around a man that is more competitive than Sam Darnold,” Helton told PFT Live. “He loves to compete and loves to be able to show what he can do. When the timing is right he will.”
The timing wasn’t right for Darnold at the Combine. Darnold’s decision should be respected, not criticized.
“I think that every young man has to make the decision that’s best for him,” Helton said. “I haven’t talked to Sam since he’s gotten back from the Combine. I know one thing about Sam. He’s always gonna make the best decision in the moment. If he feels like it’s better to throw on Pro Day, I’m all for it.”
If Darnold chooses not to throw at the Pro Day, that’s his business. If he chooses to decline to submit to private workouts, that’s his business, too. If he decides to say, “Watch my film and draft me or don’t,” that’s also his business.
Whatever he chooses to do, he shouldn’t be accused of being afraid to compete by those who hope to fill the days and weeks until the draft with more data points from players who have blindly submitted for decades to the NFL’s ultimate dog-and-pony show. It’s OK for everyone in this business to make business decisions, except of course for the men on whom the business relies the most.