The 2018 NFL combine drills take place on March 2-5. Players have the chance to improve their draft stock, and gamblers have the chance to profit on various combine-related prop bets. Today we break down some of Friday’s top performers in the fifth of several combine-specific pieces.
The first day of the combine is in the books. A bunch of young guys of varying shapes and sizes sprinted, jumped, and even bench pressed. Let’s take a look at some of the day’s biggest takeaways.
Running backs, offensive linemen, kickers, and special-teamers participated in on-field workouts Friday. There was a mix of up-and-down performances from the backs we highlighted in our Day 1 combine preview:
Key: 40-yard (seconds) | 10-yard (seconds) | bench | 3-cone (seconds) | 20-yard shuttle (seconds) | vertical (inches) | broad (feet and inches)
- Saquon Barkley | 6’0″ and 233 Pounds | Junior, Penn State | 4.4 | 1.54 | 29 | – | – | 41 | DNP: Player Profile
- Nick Chubb | 5’10″ and 227 Pounds | Senior, Georgia | 4.52 | – | 29 | – | – | 38.5 | 10-8 | Player Profile
- Sony Michel | 5’10″ and 214 Pounds | Senior, Georgia | 4.54 | 1.54 | 22 | – | – | DNP | DNP | Player Profile
- Royce Freeman | 5’11″ and 229 Pounds | Senior, Oregon | 4.55 | – | 17 | – | – | 34 | 9-10 | Player Profile
- Derrius Guice | 5’10″ and 224 Pounds | Junior, LSU | 4.49 | – | 15 | – | – | 31.5 | DNP | Player Profile
- Ronald Jones II | 5’11″ and 205 Pounds | Junior, USC | 4.65* | – | 9 | – | – | 36.5 | DNP | Player Profile *pulled hamstring
Who Helped Their Draft Stock?
Barkley, Bo Scarbrough, Kerryon Johnson, Royce Freeman, and Chubb emerged as some of the day’s top performers. The first three backs were the only players to log a vertical jump of at least 40 inches, while the latter two were each top performers in the 3-cone and 20-yard shuttle drills. They weren’t the combine’s only big-bodied backs to help their draft stock, as each of Guice, Rashaad Penny, Kalen Ballage, Scarbrough, and Freeman put up sub-4.55 marks in the 40 while weighing 220-plus pounds.
The little guys didn’t fair too badly either. Former track star Nyheim Hines didn’t shock anyone by turning in the position’s fastest 40-yard dash, and Chase Edmonds ran a blazing 6.79-second 3-cone drill and 4.07-second 20-yard shuttle. Still, it’s the backs who managed to demonstrate elite speed to go along with their NFL-ready size who truly shined. With the exception of Johnson, each of our aforementioned big backs ranked in the top-75th percentile in weight adjusted 40-yard dash speed scores (per Graham Barfield).
MVP: Barkley. The likes of Chubb and Freeman deserve plenty of praise, but it’s hard to pick against the guy who finished second in the 40-yard dash and first in the vertical jump and bench press.
Who Hurt Their Draft Stock?
The likes of Michel, Mark Walton, and Justin Crawford will look to improve upon sub-par 40-yard dashes at their respective pro days after disappointing performances. Finishing in the middle to back of the pack in the 40 is a problem for backs under 215 pounds, especially when so many of the combine’s larger backs ran so well. Jones’ slow 40-yard dash was caused by a pulled hamstring halfway through his run, which won’t help questions about whether he’ll be able to withstand the punishment of life as an NFL running back.
The draft’s big-name backs mostly performed well, but it was surprising not to see more upside from the pack. Overall, Hines’ position-high mark in the 40-yard dash tied for the ninth-highest mark among backs over the past 10 combines, and Barkley’s 41-inch vertical jump is tied for the eighth-highest mark. No other back from this season’s combine managed to notch a top-10 mark in the bench press, broad jump, 3-cone drill, or 20-yard shuttle.
LVP: Michel. Georgia’s RB2 was earning Day 1 talk after an electric two playoff games, but it was Michel’s teammate Chubb who impressed in the day’s running events. Michel is expected to perform jumps and agility drills at the Bulldogs’ pro day.
Who Won Bets?
Friday featured three bets that were discussed in our Day 1 preview.
- Saquon Barkley fastest 40 time: Faster (-125) vs. slower (-105) than 4.4 seconds: PUSH
- Kerryon Johnson fastest 40 time: Faster (-115) vs. slower (-115) than 4.55 seconds: N/A Didn’t Run
- Nick Chubb fastest 40 time: Faster (-190) vs. slower (+165) than 4.54 seconds: FASTER (-190)
Barkley pushed and Johnson will run his 40 at Auburn’s pro day. Chubb beat his mark by an entire 0.02 seconds. Be sure to check out our Day 2 preview before Saturday’s combine action.
Be sure to check out our list of combine participants and 2018 NFL draft prospects throughout the weekend for updated measurements and testing information.
Photo Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports