Fact or Fiction: Impact of the Combine on NFL Draft

Posted Mar 9, 2018

The staff debates Big Blue topics in the aftermath of the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine:

The NFL Scouting Combine will have an effect on the top of the draft order.
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Nobody at the top of this draft did anything at the combine that should be considered surprising. Saquon Barkley was an excellent athlete, which is what everyone expected. Bradley Chubb performed well, and so did Minkah Fitzpatrick. No one should move quarterbacks on their board based on what they did at the combine. The top five remains the same.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - As much as I love Indianapolis, they wouldn’t hold the combine if it didn’t have an impact. The combine is the first real opportunity to talk to prospects in person and get a feel for whether or not they are worthy of a pick that could shape a franchise for the next five years – for better or worse. The stakes are high at the top, and teams need all the information they can get. The combine provides a piece of the puzzle.

LANCE MEDOW: Fact - I don’t think the results from the NFL Scouting Combine will shake up the top of the draft order, but it’s possible a team makes a move because the numbers that were posted by a player in Indianapolis solidified that team’s strong interest in a prospect. That’s the main reason why I’m going “fact” here. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s at least one trade within the top five picks.

Saquon Barkley had the most impressive performance in Indianapolis.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - There might be other players who had a more impactful performance in Indianapolis in that some of their numbers were surprising and will move them up draft boards, but no one had a more well-rounded performance than Barkley. He was excellent in nearly everything he did in Indianapolis, which was expected given the agility and explosiveness he displayed on the field at Penn State. He benched more than some offensive linemen and ran faster than wide receivers and defensive backs. You can make an argument for someone like D.J. Chark as well, but Barkley stole the show, in my opinion.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - These don’t mean much when you really get down to football acumen, but I’m still a sucker for them anyway. Barkley did more reps than Joe Thomas in the bench press, ran the 40-yard dash faster than Odell Beckham Jr., and jumped higher than Julio Jones and Beckham.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction - Yes, Saquon Barkley posted ridiculous numbers across the board at the NFL Scouting Combine but was I surprised? Absolutely not. On the other hand, Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin turned many heads with the fastest 40 time for his position since 2003 and wowed everyone by recording 20 reps on the bench press with a prosthetic on his left arm. If that’s not impressive enough to top the list, then I don’t know what would be.

Three quarterbacks will be drafted in the top five.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - This is a tough one because it will either be two or three. The Browns will use one of their two picks on a quarterback, and I think the Broncos will use the fifth overall pick on a quarterback (although signing Kirk Cousins might change that plan). That leaves the Giants and Colts. The Colts will not draft a quarterback but could always trade out with a team that will. The Giants could draft a quarterback, and Dave Gettleman said he would consider any trade offers, as well. With such a strong top of the quarterback crop, I think three go in the first five picks one way or another. At worst, three will go in the top six, maybe even four.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - It hasn’t happened since 1999 when Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb and Akili Smith went first, second and third. So I’m going out on a limb by saying “fact” here, but the draft and all the buzz that comes with it tend to do a 360. Beginning with the end of the 2016 college football season, 2018 was already being forecast as the best quarterback class in a long time, largely due to Sam Darnold’s breakout freshman season. But, like everything else, it started to get picked apart as the draft process unfolded to the point where the current talk is that Saquon Barkley, a running back, could be the top choice. However, I think everything will circle back to the quarterbacks when it’s all said and done.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction - I think, at most, two quarterbacks will be selected in the top five. The Browns currently own two of those selections (Nos. 1 and 4), and assuming the order stays as is, Cleveland could use one of the picks on a signal caller -- but not both. I can see the Browns or the Giants taking a quarterback at No. 1 or No. 2, respectively, and the Broncos at five -- but not all three. I also don’t think the Colts will grab a quarterback at No. 3, given they already have two young options on the roster in Andrew Luck and Jacoby Brissett.

Running back has emerged as the deepest group post-combine.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - I love the depth of this running back class. Saquon Barkley gets all the love, but I think Derrius Guice, Ronald Jones, Sony Michel, Nick Chubb, Rashaad Penny, and Kerryon Johnson all have the potential to be starting caliber running backs in the league, too. That also leaves out quality runners like Royce Freeman, John Kelly, Mark Walton and Bo Scarbrough. It is a really deep group. There might even be one of the that first group waiting for the Giants to pick at the top of Round Three if they are still in need of a back.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - Continuing what I was just talking about, I still think it’s quarterback. There are two Heisman Trophy winners in this class – Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield – and they are taking a backseat to Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen. That’s what you call a deep class.

LANCE MEDOW: Fact - Aside from Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, a number of running backs stood out in Indianapolis, meaning there should be plenty of substance and depth at that position, especially when you get to the middle rounds. Georgia’s Nick Chubb, Derrius Guice of LSU and North Carolina State’s Nyheim Hines all posted impressive 40-yard dash times and could very well make immediate impacts in the NFL.