ORLANDO —It rained all over Sam Darnold's Pro Day, but an unusually stormy afternoon in Los Angeles did little to bother the USC quarterback.**
Darnold, widely considered one of the best players in the upcoming NFL Draft, didn't miss a beat during that workout last week, showcasing the best version of himself despite a downpour that made the campus look more like Northeast Ohio and less like Southern California.
Browns general manager John Dorsey and coach Hue Jackson, who were among a contingent from Cleveland's front office in attendance, took note of that and said Darnold showed resilience in overcoming less-than-ideal circumstances.
"You know what? I'm kind of glad it rained a little bit just to see everything unfold. I thought he had a really nice workout," Dorsey said Monday at the league's annual meeting. "I thought he showed feet, he showed the ability to roll out, extend the play, he showed the quick release, he showed downfield accuracy. I mean, it really was a really good workout."
"He walked out the day before it was a nice sunny day. The next day it's pouring down rain, wet ball," Jackson added Tuesday. "So here's a guy (with) a little adversity. I thought he fired himself in and played the way Sam can play."
Darnold, 20, is among several candidates the Browns could take with the first overall pick next month. While each of this year's top signal-callers — a group that includes Darnold, Wyoming's Josh Allen, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield and UCLA's Josh Rosen — have different strengths and weaknesses, Darnold's combination of arm talent, mobility, and poise have some bullish on the former Trojan. To be certain, there remain questions about his struggles with turnovers, especially fumbles, and a dip in production last year compared to a brilliant 2016 season.
Jackson said Darnold has alleviated some concerns about the fumbling habit throughout the draft process, but that dynamic could be a work in progress at the next level. He said it reminds him of former NFL quarterback Carson Palmer, the former No. 1 pick whom Jackson recruited and coached as USC's then-offensive coordinator, and how he struggled with fumbles, too.
"It's really interesting, I always tell the story about Carson Palmer, his first year in the NFL. If you go back, he fumbled the ball quite a bit. People would hit his hand, and he didn't have two hands on the ball," he said. "So you have to really understand those things. We were able to work through those things with Sam. We feel more comfortable, but there's still work to do there."
It's still unclear if the Browns view Darnold as their quarterback of the future. At the very least, his Pro Day was another example as to why he might fit that bill.
"There was a degree of adversity, and it didn't affect him," Dorsey said. "It's always good to see guys perform under adverse situations."
"When things aren't just cookie cutter, he knows how to adjust," Jackson added. "He has good poise. I saw leadership ability among the people that he was with, so he had a good day."