Among all of the basketball we’ve been watching lately, the NFL combine happened this past weekend. Many players outperformed expectations and some fell by the wayside. Here are the five biggest takeaways from the NFL combine on tonight’s Lunce’s List.
1. Shaquem Griffin won the weekend
Plenty of players showed out, but Shaquem Griffin needs to be everyone’s favorite new player. Never mind that he played for
national champion UCF, this guy has shown more heart out on the football field than anyone we’ve seen in a long time. Griffin had his left hand amputated as a child, yet is one of the better linebackers entering the draft this year.
He put a prosthetic on his left hand and posted 20 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press and he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash, which was the fastest for a linebacker since 2003. His athleticism is comparable to an early-round linebacker, but it will be interesting to see where he is drafted. He’s got great closing speed, is good rushing off the outside, but is he a starting NFL middle linebacker? Does he need to be outside? Special teams?
Richard Sherman said that if Griffin doesn’t get drafted in the first two days (first three rounds) then the system is broken. I imagine he would be a 2nd/3rd round guy, but we’ll see where teams decide to evaluate him.
2. Josh Allen may indeed be the #1 pick
Josh Allen killed it. He had a huge arm and was accurate in his drills. In the workouts, he ran a 4.75 40-yard dash, which was third fastest. He also had a 33.5 inch vertical and a 119 inch broad jump, both of which was the highest among quarterbacks, and was second in the 3 cone drill at 6.90.
Allen wasn’t super accurate at Wyoming, only completing 56.2% of his passes, but we’ll see what he can do at the pro level. He’s performed well enough that now the rumors are flying around that the Broncos may trade up to get him at the #1 spot since it seems like Kirk Cousins has other suitors. That would be best case scenario for Allen who could go play under John Elway and avoid the disaster that is the Browns.
3. Saquon Barkley is determined to prove me wrong
Ok, so maybe he isn’t actually out to prove ME wrong, but I have said that he’s overrated for a while now. However, Barkley killed it at the combine. He ran a 4.40 40-yard dash (2nd fastest), had a 41-inch vertical leap (1st) and had 29 bench press reps (tied for 1st with Nick Chubb).
I will admit, part of why he wasn’t able to be a dominant running back at Penn State was because of his dreadful offensive line. But he can contribute on special teams and is a versatile player in a league that is seeing more versatile backs be rewarded (see Alvin Kamara last year).
4. In-state players performed well
Alabama fans know all about Da’Ron Payne and his skillset, but it was on display for everyone in Indianapolis. He came in at 6-2, 311 pounds and ran a 4.95 40-yard dash. He showed good movement skills and performed better than expected. He’s not looked at as a major pass rusher, but the movement skills he displayed could make him a high-impact player in the NFL.
Calvin Ridley measured at 6-0, 189 pounds. He ran a 4.43 40-yard dash which was fifth fastest among wide receivers, and Robert Foster was at 4.41 which was third.
Bo Scarbrough ran a 4.52 40-yard dash, which was fifth among running backs. He had a 40 inch vertical jump, which was tied with Kerryon Johnson for second highest and Roc Thomas (Jacksonville State) had a 35.5 inch vertical. Bo also had the largest broad jump at 129 inches, while Kerryon was at 126 and Thomas was at 125. Kam Pettway had the third most bench press reps of any running back.
Offensive lineman Braden Smith had the second most bench press reps among offensive lineman with 35, second highest vertical jump with at 33.5 inches and third highest broad jump at 113 inches.
Tony Brown had the third fastest time among defensive backs with a 4.35 40-yard dash. Right behind him was Anthony Averett with a 4.36, and Minkah Fitzpatrick ran a 4.46. Brown also performed well in the 3 cone drill plus the 20- and 60-yard shuttle.
For what it’s worth, JK Scott ran the fastest 40 of specialists at 4.83 seconds and was one of the only specialists to actually participate in most of the drills. Also, Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson hit every field goal he attempted at the combine.
5. Vita Vea may be the most versatile big man in the draft
Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea was super impressive in the combine as he got 41 reps in the bench press, which was second most among all defensive lineman. He ran a 5.10 40-yard dash, which isn’t too bad for a guy that is 6-4, 347 pounds. He’s one of the highest rated defensive players in the draft and rightfully so.
Unfortunately, he tweaked a hamstring on Sunday and didn’t participate in any other drills. He also killed it in his interviews.
Washington was a team that was looked at as so weak despite their record the last couple of years, but their defense was actually not too bad. They led the NCAA in turnovers heading into their Peach Bowl match-up against Alabama in the 2016 season. Vea was a huge part of that defense. Vea is questionable to participate in his pro day on Saturday, but hopefully he’s still an early pick. Mel Kiper has Vea at #13 to the Redskins in his pre-combine mock draft.
The other interesting storyline has nothing to do with the combine, but rather where Kirk Cousins ends up. That has been the talk of the weekend around the NFL outside of the combine. The Vikings, Jets, Broncos, Cardinals and Browns seem to all be vying for Cousins. However, where he is picked up will completely change the draft because one team that needed a quarterback, won’t anymore, and other teams may trade around to get Josh Allen who seems like the #1 overall pick.