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A Lookback at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine

Jacob Graff, Eastside Staff

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As the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine comes to a close, let’s take a closer look at some notable performances and how it could shake up teams’ rankings as they head into the draft.

There are five big name quarterbacks this year and the Combine had an effect for four. Sam Darnold (USC), Josh Rosen (UCLA), Josh Allen (Wyoming), Lamar Jackson (Louisville), and Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) are widely considered the top five quarterbacks in this year’s draft class, although none is regarded as a perfect prospect. They are named here in no particular order. It’s hard to rank these quarterbacks in particular, but Darnold, Rosen, and Allen are thought to be the best of the group. Darnold’s stock held constant, as he didn’t throw at the Combine. Rosen, of whom NFL insiders noted that executives had mild personality concerns, apparently was well-regarded in his interviews, soothing a potential red flag, and performed extraordinarily well in throwing drills, showing a typically accurate deep-ball. His name probably rose for many teams, and he should be in contention for the first overall pick in this years draft. Allen, though, had the best day of the bunch. He has a howitzer for an arm, and showed he could be accurate in all aspects of throwing the football. This was a major concern for NFL executives, as he had posted a 56.3% completion rate in a below-average conference, although his supporting cast did next to nothing to improve that number. He won’t go first, as he is still thought of as a worse prospect than Darnold and Rosen, but he solidified some major concerns at the Combine. Mayfield, one of the best college quarterbacks to ever play the game statistically, isn’t a consensus top prospect because he is considered too small and too raw to play the position well, yet he is the most accurate passer and a Heisman winner, like Jackson. However, he has shown himself to be immature, causing his image to take a hit. Jackson made his detractors, who say he would be better playing wide receiver to his unbelievable athletic ability and questionable QB skills, close their mouths by only participating in throwing drills and not athletic measurements. Still, he did not look solid, and will be a risky bet to be a starter in the NFL.

At running back, you can only talk about one name: Saquon Barkley. All around, the Penn State player was exceptional, and as a result, his name is firmly in the buzz, according to Ian Rapoport, for being picked first overall. If this occurred, he’d be the first running back picked first since Ki-Jana Carter in 1995. It wouldn’t be without merit, because as NFL Research noted, his tests said he was stronger than future Hall-of-Fame offensive lineman Joe Thomas, quicker than DeSean Jackson, faster than all-time speedster Devin Hester, and jumps higher than athletic-freak Julio Jones. Before the draft, he was a certain top-ten pick; now he’s a guarantee top-five and a potential first overall selection.

Another Penn State player, tight end Mike Gesicki, solidified himself as the top option at his position at the Scouting Combine. By posting the highest vertical, 40-yard dash time, and second-highest bench press reps number, he will be targeted in the second day of the draft.

In an underwhelming draft class of wide receivers, none significantly did themselves good at the Combine. However, many defensive players stood out.

For the annual feel-good story of the draft, University of Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin blew past expectations. He has a stub on his left arm, as he lost his hand in childhood. Naturally, expectations for his NFL career were diminished, but he ran the fastest 40-yard dash of any linebacker since stats started being tracked in 2003. He was able to catch the balls thrown at him with ease, too, surprising many scouts, while posting 20 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press while wearing a prosthetic hand.

Derwin James, a safety from FSU, put himself firmly in the favor of NFL scouts through his combine results. Although he probably won’t be the first safety off the board (that honor will belong to Minkah Fitzpatrick of Alabama), he made sure that people see him as a top-15 player in the draft class.

Overall, many players who participated in the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine changed scouts’ perceptions, the players noted above boosted their draft stock notably towards the green and away from the red.

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A Lookback at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine