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If draft prospects are allowed to skip drills at the NFL Combine, why even have the Combine?

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If a quarterback prospect doesn't participate in throwing drills at the NFL Combine, what good is it to even have an NFL Combine?

NFL Combine - Day 3 Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

I didn't watch a second of the 2018 NFL Combine conducted last week where it always is—Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Does this shunning of the annual event which critiques and dissects budding football prospects (and don't forget their measurables) two months before the NFL Draft discredit me as a Steelers/football writer?

For some readers, absolutely. For others, hey, if you know football, you know football.

Which brings me to USC quarterback Sam Darnold, who allowed himself to be poked, prodded, interviewed and put through the workout wringer in his proverbial underwear (actually, Under Armour gear). However, while Darnold, a young man hoping to have a long, productive and lucrative career, participated in most things NFL Combine-related, the one event he wouldn't do—an activity that is kind of important in his line of work—was the passing drill.


Speculation in some circles was/is that Darnold didn't want to look bad compared to other, more polished passers, such as UCLA's Josh Rosen (who, by the way, was a prospect I thought had top-five draft potential the second I saw him—and I've never been one for any of this fancy prospect evaluating).

OK, if that is indeed the case—a player who has been projected as the top quarterback in this draft class since at least 2016 not wanting to look bad compared to other passers at the Combine—how is Darnold still considered the top quarterback prospect, one who will likely be picked first, overall?

Darnold has said he will throw at USC's official pro day, where he will obviously be in more familiar surroundings and throwing to receivers he's more comfortable with.

Fine, but then why even have the Combine?

Why do people place so much importance on it if players often opt to sit out certain drills?

It is kind of refreshing in a way, because Darnold, and others like him—including Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, who decided not to run the 40 yard dash because certain experts, such as former general manager Bill Polian think he would be better suited as a receiver at the pro level—are sort of exposing this annual dog and pony show for what it is: a dog and pony show.

On the other hand, if you're the Browns (or any team shopping for a future franchise quarterback) shouldn't you be a little concerned that the top guy is afraid of hurting his draft stock by doing the thing most important to his position?

Isn't it sort of an admission of guilt in a way?

If a player in the league's substance abuse protocol simply skips a test, it's automatically considered a positive result, and he's faced with another suspension.

Wouldn't that also be kind of the same thing for a player skipping a very important drill?

I don't understand the whole thing, other than Darnold has an opportunity to erase all the doubts at USC's pro day.

But what if Wyoming's Josh Allen, whose stock really skyrocketed at the Combine, skips his pro day or looks bad in those familiar surroundings?

Instead of forcing players to skip workouts, maybe scouts and coaches—and those draft gurus in three-piece suits—will start putting more focus on what these prospects did in college.

After all, it was former head coach—and Steelers nemesis—Jerry Glanville (of all people) who said he never learned anything about a football player by watching him run around in his underwear.