Sam Darnold The Latest Top Prospect Taking Control Of Pre-Draft Process

It should go without saying that we are in the middle of a period of the NFL calendar during which there isn’t a ton of things going on that are centered specifically around the Pittsburgh Steelers, so you ought to bear with us as we occasionally venture into peripheral topics concerning broader aspects of the game.

There is one topic concerning the Combine that I find really interesting, and it concerns the ‘rights’ so to speak, of the top prospects entering the draft. He have increasingly seen players who feel guaranteed to be high draft picks make the decision not to do this or that workout at the Combine or even at their Pro Day, believing that they risk doing more harm than good, including the potential for injury, by participating.

The latest example was the decision by quarterback Sam Darnold, who could potentially be the first-overall pick in the draft, not to throw passes at the Combine, though he did all the other workouts. He certainly is not the first top quarterback to make that decision, and it’s assured that he won’t be the last.

Still, every time it happens, there is criticism of the decision, or at least questioning, and some feel that it could, or should, hurt their stock. They question, for example, the player’s competitiveness. I wanted to take the pulse of the community about what they feel on this topic.

This is what Mike Mayock said about Darnold’s decision not to throw—and for the record, I respect Mayock’s draft knowledge and feel for the game more than just about anybody:

It’s not going to affect his draft grade. However, that kid ought to want to get up before or after Rosen, Lamar Jackson, all these guys, and say, ‘I’m just as good’, or, ‘I’m better, let’s go, let’s rip it’.
Cam Newton came out here and sprayed it around. Coaches and scouts know if you don’t complete a pass here it doesn’t matter, you don’t know the wideouts. You ought to want to burr up and compete. It just bothers me a little bit that he ought to override his trainer or override his agent or override his parents, whoever is telling him not to throw. He ought to say, ‘I’m a competitor and I want to throw’.

Personally, I’m really not sure how much it says about a player’s competitiveness to throw in this context. Sure, you’re throwing at the same time as your presumed peers, and ideally you would like to perform better than them. But this is basically a job interview. It’s not like the trash can drill at training camp where you’re just having fun for the sake of competitiveness.

All things being equal, I would probably prefer that everybody participates in the events, as it’s an easy way to make one-to-one comparisons, provided that you understand the limits of doing so. But I also understand why more players are making the decision to forego the process, or parts of it.

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