Clay Helton: No issues with Sam Darnold’s competitive fire

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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.

8 responses to “Clay Helton: No issues with Sam Darnold’s competitive fire

  1. Darnold (and Lamar Jackson previously) show more character by refusing to do what public pressure encourages them to do, (when acquiescence might not be in their own best interest), than the other way round. More “competitive fire”, in my opinion.

  2. I’m sure the TV network that’s broadcasting a Cavs vs. Warriors game is not going to be happy if LeBron of Steph Curry take the night off. The golf broadcasts get much higher ratings when Tiger Woods is in the hunt. That’s what all this nonsense is about. No NFL personnel people are questioning Darnold’s competitiveness. It’s just the NFL Network trying to pressure the players into helping their ratings. I don’t blame them, and I don’t blame Darnold.

  3. The flip side is that it is also the NFL’s business if they choose not to draft him. A team will be looking at someone as the possible face of their franchise, and someone they will be paying a ton of money to. It’s not unreasonable to expect a QB to throw at some point, in a workout under less than ideal conditions.

  4. It’s not like no one is going to show up to watch Sam throw on his home field. If anything that leaves a fresher impression on the scouts come draft day. Throwing as one of a gaggle of goofs at the Combine makes it hard to stand out. Reading the reports from the session, you get different impressions of who excelled and who bombed from everyone who was there watching.

  5. It’s all a crapshoot. The Combine is meaningless – other than the medical evaluations. Pro Days are meaningless. They’re spectacles to fill time before the draft.

    No way to know what a guy will do until he’s able to play the game.

  6. Let’s hope all those game days are of a time and place that Mr. Darnold finds agreeable.

  7. How many guys that show it on game film every game but skipped or had a bad combine have panned out in the NFL? How many guys that look like “just a guy” on tape but have been monsters at the combine have panned out?

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