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Post combine report: Mayfield, Allen, Barkley

Penn+State+running+back+Saquon+Barkley+%2826%29+jets+past+a+Maryland+defender.
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley (26) jets past a Maryland defender.

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley (26) jets past a Maryland defender.

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Penn State running back Saquon Barkley (26) jets past a Maryland defender.

WILLIAM RIEPE, Sports Writer

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The 2018 NFL scouting combine finished, and it was very underwhelming. Last year we saw huge records broken, as well as no major players skipping workouts. This year, however, was different.

This year’s combine featured a lot of talent already securing their position in the draft. Quarterbacks such as Dam Darnold, Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield looked good in their combine debut and will surely be taken in the first round to a quarterback hungry top 10 pick team.

Josh Allen exceeded already high expectations, showing off his range by dropping accurate 70-yard passes to his receivers. This was after Allen was criticized for lacking footwork and having “stiff legs.” However, this surely increase his already high draft stock, guaranteeing a pick in the top 10.

The biggest highlight of the combine was Penn State tight-end Mike Gesicki. Gesicki was within the top three for every single workout at the combine and had a great day catching the football. This performance is what the combine is all about, as this showcase can catapault some unknown players into the starlight.

However, there were also losers in the combine. Quarterback Lamar Jackson decided not to run the 40-yard dash or compete in every event, minus a few throwing drills. The 2016 Heisman winner disappointed in his pass placement and mechanics, looking sloppy and inaccurate.

This decision to forego the 40-yard dash, which is arguably the most enjoyable part to watch, upset many fans and scouts alike, as Lamar Jackson is deemed one of the best running quarterbacks the NCAA has seen. Jackson plans to run the 40-yard dash at his pro-day showcase in a few weeks’ time and is predicted to run a high 4.3 or a low 4.4.

One of the biggest highlights of this combine was Shaquem Griffith, a linebacker who had his left hand amputated as a child and was assumed to be disadvantaged.

However, Griffith proved critics wrong, delivering what I can call the best combine performance I have ever seen from a defensive player running an astonishing 4.38 40-yard dash as a linebacker.

Another huge area of the draft was the fate of Saquon Barkley. Barkley is often called a generational player and is honestly one of the best talents I have seen at the running back position at such a young age. Not only did his insane speed impress, but his ball handling ability, strength and agility all showed, easily making him a top 10 talent.

This, on top of an amazing attitude, work ethic and a lack of off the field issues, makes Barkley a significant grab.

The next area is something especially interesting to Iowans, as Iowa star corner Josh Jackson earned himself a combine invite. Jackson was the number one cornerback in the draft before the combine began.

This can still ring, as his numbers were great besides a subpar 40-yard dash time of 4.56. His bench press, vertical and broad jump numbers were all very good for a ball hawking corner; however, he may be placed at safety due to his poor speed, similar to that of Hawkeye teammate Desmond King.

The big winner of this combine were not the players or the scouts, but Penn State University, which managed to have two players on top of their respective positions by a long shot – Gesicki and Barkley.  Both put up massive numbers in every category across the board.

In conclusion, this combine did have its highlights, as well as its lows, such as Lamar Jackson deciding to forego the combine. But we still have pro day, which will showcase even more talent and lead us into the 2018 NFL draft.

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Post combine report: Mayfield, Allen, Barkley