USC quarterback Sam Darnold had what appeared to be a positive pro day workout Wednesday, and he did so with the Cleveland Browns watching closely.
How close? Browns owner Jimmy Haslam came out to Los Angeles to watch Darnold throw. It’s unusual for owners to attend a pro day workout. The Browns, of course, have the first pick of the draft and Darnold is considered a strong possibility for No. 1.
— Ryan Abraham (@insidetroy) March 21, 2018
“I met with him yesterday,” Darnold said on NFL Network about Haslam. “He’s a great guy. That whole staff is awesome.”
The NFL Network analysts on site said all 32 teams were at USC’s pro day, and the head coaches of the teams with the first three picks — the Browns, New York Giants and New York Jets — were among the personnel on hand. The teams with the second and third picks might not need to worry about Darnold. It’s no surprise that the Browns are interested in Darnold, but Haslam coming to the pro day workout is a sign that the Browns will look long and hard at picking him first.
Cleveland’s brass had to like what it saw on Wednesday. It was a rare rainy day in Southern California, which probably was a good thing for Darnold. He didn’t throw at the scouting combine, but had to deal with some weather elements at his pro day. And all accounts from reporters on site indicated Darnold threw it well despite the rain. Darnold finished the workout by launching some deep balls, which showed off his arm strength.
Darnold told NFL Network afterward he wanted to show he could throw on the move and even worked on keeping both hands on the ball in the pocket, something that was a concern for him since he had so many fumbles last season.
“Just being aware of all those little things, then coming out here and ripping it,” Darnold said. “I thought I did a pretty good job.”
After the Jets moved up to No. 3, with the clear intent of taking a quarterback, it seemed to clarify what will happen at the top of the draft. The Browns need to get their quarterback, and there’s a good chance they can get the top non-quarterback of the draft with the fourth overall pick, which they own as well. While the draft is always unpredictable, it seems the Browns will pick the No. 1 quarterback on their board with the top pick.
Darnold will be in the conversation for the first overall pick. The Browns will do their due diligence on all the quarterbacks at the top of the draft. But if Darnold was on top of their board before Wednesday, nothing that happened at the pro day workout should change that.
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