INDIANAPOLIS - The first day of on-field workouts at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine kicked off Friday as the offensive linemen and running backs took the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. Here are 10 players who helped their draft stock.
RB Saquon Barkley: Barkley did exactly what everyone expected of him - he came to the Scouting Combine and cemented himself as the top player in the 2018 NFL Draft. His testing numbers were off the charts. After tipping the scale at 223 pounds, Barkley completed 29 reps on the bench press, touched 41 inches in the vertical jump then timed as fast as 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Barkley then looked flawless in drills. He was smooth and quick through the cones and lost almost no momentum changing direction. He practiced to his speed. And Barkley caught the ball well in the short and long field. In many ways, he made the decision easy for the Cleveland Browns on who they should select at the top of the draft with his Combine performance.
G Will Hernandez: Hernandez followed up a great week at the Senior Bowl with a strong Combine performance. After completing 37 reps on the bench press, he completed the 40 in 5.15 seconds - not bad for a 348-pound blocker. He displayed quick feet during drills and moved much better than expected around the field. Hernandez erased any doubt as to whether or not he will be a first-round pick with his performance and now slots in the bottom-third of the first frame.
C James Daniels: Many were surprised Daniels entered the draft after his junior season but he impressed NFL decision-makers on Friday. Daniels completed 21 reps on the bench - not a great number but better than expected for the 295-pound center. He also touched over 30 inches in the vertical jump then looked spectacular in drills. Daniels moved around the field better than any offensive lineman, effortlessly changing direction and proceeding through all the drills with great blocking technique. While Daniels needs to improve his playing strength, he presently grades as a second-day pick and one of the top zone-blocking prospects available in this year's draft.
OL Austin Corbett: Corbett is another lineman who continued his post-Senior Bowl momentum up draft boards. He also timed 5.15 seconds in the 40 and hit just under 9-0 in the broad jump. Corbett looked terrific in drills, displaying a smooth style and excellent footwork during pass protection drills. Corbett can play three different positions on the offensive line and has cemented himself as a day two pick.
RB Nyheim Hines: As expected, Hines was the fastest and most explosive back on the field. He timed in the mid-to-high 4.3 seconds in the 40, depending on whose watch you were reading. Hines practiced to his 40 speed during drills and no one else looked faster. His footwork was quick and crisp. He displayed a tremendous burst and was always on balance. Equally as important for Hines, he displayed himself as a lethal downfield pass-catching threat during receiver drills.
T Kolton Miller: As far as athletic workouts are concerned, no offensive lineman came close to Kolton Miller. He completed 24 reps on the bench press despite arms which measured longer than 34 inches. His 40 time of 4.93 seconds included a very quick 10-yard split of 1.67 seconds. Miller set the Combine record in the broad jump for offensive linemen reaching 10-1 and also added a vertical jump of 31.5 inches. Miller looked good in drills and showed he has the potential to be a future starter in the league.
T Brian O'Neill: O'Neill is another underclassman who worked out well and displayed terrific long-term potential. He timed 4.81 seconds in the 40 including a solid 10-yard split of 1.70 seconds and showed terrific footwork in pass-protection drills. O'Neill easily moved his 6-7, 305-pound frame around the field. Look for him to be drafted once the third round begins.
RB Derrius Guice: Guice ran well and looked solid in drills. He timed 4.48 seconds in the 40 at 212 pounds. Guice looked even quicker during drills and showed a terrific burst in and out of his cuts while effortlessly moving through the cones. Most impressive was the way Guice was able to turn on his burst in a single step out of breaks carrying the ball or transitioning upfield after catching the ball. Guice confirmed what most believe coming into the Combine - he's worthy of being selected in the late part of round one.
OL Rod Taylor: Taylor's testing marks, which included 5.25 seconds in the 40 and a broad jump of 8-3, were nothing spectacular. On the other hand, his position drills were off the charts. Taylor was quick, fluid, and displayed great fundamentals in all his drills. His footwork was smooth and Taylor looked very athletic moving around the field. Though he lined up at left tackle for Mississippi, Taylor looks like a potential starting guard at the next level.
- Tony Pauline
Let's go inside some of the key numbers from the players who performed on the first day of drills and see what stood out most to me:
- As Tony mentioned, Kolton Miller from UCLA was very impressive. A 40-yard dash time of 4.91 seconds with a 10-yard split of 1.67 seconds (both of which are in the 90th percentile when compared to tackles drafted in the last decade) were very good times. I can say the same of his 121-inch broad jump. The only offensive tackle to post a better broad jump during workouts before he was drafted in the last 10 years? Lane Johnson in 2013.
- Tony brought up Pitt's Brian O'Neill as well, and his legendary 40-yard time. O'Neill ran a laser-timed 4.82 in the 40-yard dash, a time that was not matched by any tackle drafted since 2007. The redshirt junior's 10-yard split (1.70) and 3-cone drill time (7.14) were also extremely impressive, the latter of which was only bested by three other tackles selected during that same time frame.
- When the running backs took the field, everyone was excited to see how Saquon Barkley would time, and as Tony eluded to he tore up the track. His 4.41 seconds in the 40-yard dash was eye-popping, particularly at 233 pounds. Going by ESPN's old Speed Score rating, Barkley's ranking would be the fourth-highest of any running back drafted in the last decade. Frankly, the kid was MOVING at that size.
- Kerryon Johnson's vertical jump of 40 inches was in the 90th percentile of backs drafted in the last decade, and only eight runners who weighed as much or more than the junior have eclipsed that mark. On a side note, I was very impressed with Johnson during his press conference on Thursday.**
- Fran Duffy