It's the end of February, and for NFL fans, that means combine time. While some have touted it as inconsequential, the NFL combine is still an important tool for player evaluation and one of the last opportunities for top prospects to make an impression on prospective teams. And it gives fans the ability to check in on potential picks that they may have missed in college, not to mention watching offensive lineman run a 40 is always a treat. This year, the combine takes place from February 27th through March 5th, with the on field portion running from the 2nd to the 5th. The schedule is as follows:
- Friday, March 2nd: RB, OL, Specialists
- Saturday, March 3rd: QB, WR, TE
- Sunday, March 4th: DL, LB
- Monday, March 5th: CB, S
As for the scheduled activities, they are as follows:
- 40-yard dash
- Bench press (225 lb repetitions)
- Vertical jump
- Broad jump
- 20-yard shuttle
- 3 cone drill
- 60-yard shuttle
- Position-specific drills
The highlight events are the 40-yard dash and the bench press, but the quickness drills and vertical jump can be especially telling for skill positions and the secondary. Outside of any eye popping numbers, the position specific drills, interviews, and coachability tend to carry the most weight through the process.
Do the Quarterbacks match the hype?
Much has been made of this quarterback class, but it feels as though a lot of the hype has been created because of how many teams are desperate for a franchise player at that position. The combine (along with their pro days) will be each teams time to poke and prod the signal callers. With each of the quarterbacks coming in with some sort of flaw, whether it be injuries (Darnold and Rosen), character (Mayfield and Rosen), or just raw potential (Allen and Jackson,) what we hear out of the combine is going to go a long way toward solving who ends up where.
Barkley is widely touted as the top rated player in the draft, and in addition, is an absolute freak in the gym. He could put up scary numbers in both the 40 and bench press and only increase his hype heading into April's draft.
The rest of the running backs
Outside of Barkley, the rest of the running backs in this class are tantalizing question marks. Derrius Guice, Nick Chub, Kerryon Johnson and Bo Scarborough are outstanding backs with health concerns, Kalen Ballage and Ronald Jones are dynamic but have never carried a full work load, and Sony Michel might be the best of the bunch. The combine is a big proving ground for all of these talented runners.
Expect the top of April's draft to be defense heavy. Key names to watch are Bradley Chubb, Derwin James, Roquan Smith, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, and Vita Vea. James is an athletic freak who could test himself into a top 5 pick and Vea is a defensive tackle that could run a sub 5 second 40 . It will also be interesting if there is any overaction to possible bad combine showings by Smith or Okoronkwo who may not test well.