Published On: Mon, Mar 5th, 2018

Winners and losers from the 2018 NFL combine

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The 2018 NFL Scouting Combine is in the books following a week of medical evaluations, media sessions, team interviews, measurements, on-field tests, and position drills. While the combine is only a portion of the draft process, some can be considered winners as they leave Indianapolis, while others aren’t so fortunate. We break down both ends of the spectrum here:

Winners

Saquon Barkley and Nick Chubb


As expected, Barkley stole the headlines on Friday with his tremendous workout, but Chubb held his own as well. Among all running back prospects, they tied for the most bench press reps, had top-six 40-yard dash times, and finished top four in the vertical jump. By the end of the combine, Barkley had reportedly put himself in contention to become the first running back taken No. 1 overall since 1995, and Chubb had lifted himself into first-round consideration after shredding his ACL in 2015.

Related: Putting Saquon Barkley’s combine numbers in perspective

Workout warriors


Every year sees a handful of lesser-known prospects vault up the board by crushing the “Underwear Olympics.” Not every drill may transfer to skills on the field, but those who perform well in multiple areas often convince teams they are willing to put in work away from the gridiron.

UCLA offensive tackle Kolton Miller, Fordham running back Chase Edmunds, LSU receiver D.J. Chark, Penn State safety Troy Apke, Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryant, and Tulane cornerback Parry Nickerson were among those whose work in the weight room paid off in Indianapolis this year.

Shaquem Griffin


Griffin went from being left without an invite to both the Senior Bowl and combine to being a star of both shows. In Indianapolis, the one-handed linebacker outdid his personal goal of six bench press reps by using a prosthetic hand to lift the 225-pound mass 20 times. He then went on to run the fastest 40-yard dash time by a linebacker (4.38 seconds) since the NFL started keeping official combine times in 2003.

Related: NFL world marvels at Griffin’s great combine performance

Cornerbacks


There was some bad news for any receivers who struggle against speedy cornerbacks: there’s a lot more of them on the way. Seven cornerbacks ran the 40-yard dash in under 4.40 seconds, including three – Donte Jackson, Denzel Ward, and Parry Nicholson – who tied for the best time at 4.32. Behind them, another ten ran it in under 4.50 seconds.

Honorable Mentions: N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb, Penn State tight end Mike Gisecki, Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne, UTSA defensive end Marcus Davenport

Losers

Orlando Brown Jr.


It’s rare for a player to go from being considered a solid first-rounder to a red-flag prospect in one combine, but Brown Jr. dropped about as far as one can in a two-day span. The son of former NFL tackle Orlando Brown Sr. has the physical measurements to be a generational talent at 6-foot-8, 360 pounds. However, he performed comically bad across the four highest-profile drills, finishing last among offensive linemen in the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, and broad jump, raising serious questions about his potential NFL career.

Free-agent running backs


Last offseason, we saw proven backs like Adrian Peterson and LeGarrette Blount wait long into the spring before signing, as a crop of talented, cheaper running backs were available in the draft. The story is the same this year, as runners like Barkley, Chubb, Sony Michel, Derrius Guice, and Bo Scarbrough displayed their exciting athleticism at the combine.

It’s going to be tough for veterans like Alfred Morris and Chris Ivory to convince a team to pay them a few million dollars when that team could potentially find the next Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, or Tarik Cohen with a mid-round pick.

Traditional quarterback scouts


Many members of the NFL scouting community have simply been at it for too long. The old-school profile of a desirable quarterback – someone who’s around 6-foot-5, stands in the pocket, focuses solely on football 24/7, and never says anything controversial – has been dying out, and this year’s quarterback class is stepping on its throat. Josh Rosen’s outspokenness was embraced by fans and might be what the next generation of NFL players needs. Lamar Jackson rightfully rejected racially charged notions that he, a Heisman-winning quarterback, would be better off playing receiver. And undersized Baker Mayfield continued to turn heads with his confidence in the media.

Sam Darnold


On the field, none of the top five quarterbacks really separated themselves from one another, but it was a different story with the media. Mayfield, Rosen, and Josh Allen were supremely confident, sounding like polished pros while speaking to reporters. Meanwhile, Jackson presented his personality as clearly as possible, laughing off the notion that he should play receiver while acting as his own agent.

Related: What the combine taught us about the top 5 QB prospects

Darnold, however, fumbled over his words as he attempted to say all the right things without setting expectations too high or upsetting any prospective teams. He followed his awkward media day by choosing not to throw alongside his fellow quarterback prospects – a decision that can only raise more questions than it answers.

(Photos courtesy: Action Images)



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