There is no doubt who the top performer was from Friday's action at the 2018 NFL Combine. Penn State's Saquon Barkley, who sits atop plenty of draft boards, during his time on the field and near the weights in Indy.
But it wasn'tthat Barkley dominated. He put up numbers that were comparable for elite players from other positions as well.
If that's not clear, try this on for size: he benched more reps than current Browns offensive lineman Joe Thomas (a top-five pick) did at the combine, he ran the 10-yard split faster than speed demon DeSean Jackson did, he ran the 40-yard dash faster than potential Hall of Fame return man Devin Hester did and he had a higher vertical than Julio Jones.
That's somehow a thing that is possible, although it doesn't seem like it should be.
Worth remembering that Julio participated in the combine with a broken foot and still ran a 4.42. So maybe he was limited a little bit. But still, these are bananas numbers from Barkley.
Let's put them in some perspective from previous year performances by other running backs.
|Bench Press Reps||Vertical Jump|
The Henry run is almost nearly as impressive at 14 pounds heavier, but Barkley running faster than McCaffrey is wild. Him being substantially faster than Elliott is notable, and he's a similar prospect in terms of his ability to catch the ball and create explosive plays.
When you really break down the numbers, the comp that is most similar is "a stronger David Johnson." Which is interesting because when you take Barkley's career receptions (102) and prorate it over to four years (136), it basically equals Johnson's career receptions (141), not even accounting for a likely final year bump for Barkley, who caught more than 50 passes during 2017 for Penn State.
Both players averaged in the 1,600's in terms of scrimmage yards per season over the course of their collegiate careers.
Barkley comes from a bigger program and is a MUCH more hyped prospect, which is why we're laser locked on him, but that might be an us problem, not a them problem.
The larger point is you better believe that Barkley is going to be a top-five pick in this draft. In fact, it's fair to say there isn't a chance he falls below No. 4 at this point. The Giants at No. 2, the Colts at No. 3 and the Browns at No. 4 are all very much in play for Barkley's services.
It's entirely possible the Browns decide to make him the top pick in the draft after this combine performance.