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Fact or Fiction: Best combine performance


Darius Slayton (fifth round) was the best value pick in the entire 2019 NFL draft.

John Schmeelk: Fact -- Taking a look at the players picked around and after Slayton, it is hard to find someone with a more productive rookie season. It is difficult to know exactly how well some of the players at positions not judged by statistics performed, but I don't see anyone who was obviously better than Slayton in 2019. It is important to note that a rookie season is only a glimpse into the career a player may have, so it will be interesting to see how the ensuing years play out.

Dan Salomone: Fact -- Not only did the Giants spend a fifth-round pick on him, but it was also a compensatory selection. What they got out of it was Daniel Jones' go-to target potentially for years to come. No rookie in the NFL caught more touchdowns than Slayton and no rookie threw more touchdowns than Jones. Now that's valuable for the future. 

Lance Medow: Fiction -- Darius Slayton is certainly in the conversation as he tied Tennessee's A.J. Brown for the most receiving touchdowns by a rookie in 2019. While Brown was selected in the second round, Slayton wasn't grabbed until the fifth. Slayton led the Giants in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Even though the former Auburn standout made quite a statement as a rookie, you can't overlook what Gardner Minshew did for the Jaguars. Seven picks after the Giants took Slayton, Jacksonville selected Minshew, the former Washington State quarterback. It proved to be an important acquisition when Nick Foles suffered a shoulder injury in Week 1 and wound up missing the next eight games. Minshew appeared in 14 games with 12 starts and set the Jaguars' rookie franchise records in just about every notable quarterback category. He threw for 3,271 yards with 21 touchdowns and just six interceptions. How many rookie quarterbacks have been able to post those impressive numbers in a baptism by fire situation?

Saquon Barkley was the best combine performer in the history of Giants draft picks.

Schmeelk: Fiction – The RAS score measures a player's combine numbers (measurements and event performance) which can be compared to others at their position since 1997. They are graded on a relative scale from 1-10. Saquon Barkley scored an unbelievable 9.97. How could anyone be better, right? Believe it or not, someone from Barkley's draft class, Lorenzo Carter, scored a perfect 10, the best at his position in combine history.

Salomone: Fact -- I wrote it at the time and I'll do so again. At the 2018 combine, Barkley jumped higher than Julio Jones, notched as many bench press reps as Zack Martin and Tyron Smith, and ran the 40-yard dash faster than Alvin Kamara. Barkley is the best of all worlds.

Guard Kevin Zeitler is the strongest player pound for pound on the roster.

Schmeelk: Fact -- Kevin Zeitler is huge. If he is standing in front of you, there is literally no way to see around him. That's how broad he is. He has the widest shoulders and chest on the roster. I can't imagine what it would feel like for a man of his upper body size to get his hands on you. As physically imposing as Dexter Lawrence might be, in a straight battle of strength, I'll take Kevin Zeitler any day of the week. Will Hernandez should probably be in this conversation, too, but I'll take the veteran Zeitler.

Salomone: Fiction -- Kevin, if you're reading this (he's not), hear me out. "Pound for pound" is the caveat in this statement. Because of that, I'm going with Barkley for all the reasons I mentioned in No. 3, plus the fact that he is 82 pounds lighter than Zeitler. Barkley has the strength of a lineman top to bottom.

Medow: Fact -- Have you ever seen a photo of Kevin Zeitler without his equipment on, wearing just a sleeveless shirt. If you haven't, take the time to find that shot before responding to this statement. The man is chiseled. It doesn't hurt that he's 6-4 and 330 pounds. Will Hernandez deserves some consideration, but Zeitler's experience in the league gives him an edge.

The Scouting Combine has more of an effect on the later rounds than the top of the draft.

Schmeelk: Fact -- The combine can help or hurt players up and down the draft board, but I do think it has a bigger impact on players chosen on day three of the draft. Teams are always looking for potential, so if they have a player graded on day three heading into the combine and he performs at an elite level in Indianapolis, he will make teams re-visit his tape and push him up the board. Likewise, if there is a day three player who tests badly and below team thresholds at certain positions, he might get taken off boards completely. Small school players can certainly make teams take notice of them, or dismiss them depending on their testing times.

Salomone: Fact – The top-tier prospects are more of a known quantity. That's part of the value of the combine. Teams get to know these "lesser known" prospects away from the field. They get to interview them and get a medical check. The combine can certainly change things for the household names, but Indianapolis is a place for others to show if they belong.

Medow: Fiction -- I think it has the same effect on all rounds. The Scouting Combine isn't the be-all end-all. It's simply another fact-finding event used to complement what you've seen on film, which always dictates the conversation. The combine is used to confirm what you think or perhaps raise additional questions. Therefore, I don't think the combine numbers tip the scales that much more at the bottom of the draft versus the top.


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