The NFL has concluded its underwear Olympics, a.k.a. its annual scouting combine, and it’s time to sort out the impact it has on the 2018 draft board. That’s the subject of our weekly Talk of Fame Network poll – who helped himself the most at the combine? So here are your choices — a quarterback, running back, wide receiver and a couple of linebackers:
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. Top quarterback prospect Sam Darnold of Southern Cal may not have been willing to throw at the combine, but Allen was more than willing to show off his big arm. One of his passes at the combine carried 66 yards. He fits the NFL quarterback prototype at 6-5, 233 pounds and flashed surprising speed (4.75 40) for his size. He was a two-year starter for the Cowboys and elected to skip his senior season to turn pro.
Saquon Barkley, HB, Penn State. Barkley’s size (5-11, 233) and productivity (three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in college, 51 career touchdowns) set him up as the top running back in the 2018 NFL draft. But his showing at the combine might have put him in play for the first overall pick. Barkley flashed his speed with a 4.40 40 (some watches had him in the 4.3’s) ) and athleticism (41-inch vertical jump) for NFL talent evaluators.
Shaquem Griffin, LB, Central Florida. Having his left hand amputated at the age of 4 did not hold Griffin back as a football player. He was the best player on a defense that helped Central Florida post a perfect 13-0 season, earning American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 and Peach Bowl MVP honors in 2017. He then ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at the combine and, using a prothesis, bench-pressed 225 pounds 20 times. He played linebacker in college at 6-1, 213 pounds but may have to move to safety in the NFL.
D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland. A wideout with size (6-0, 210) and productivity – a school-record 80 catches last season for 1,033 yards and eight touchdowns on his way to Big Ten Receiver of the Year honors. And he caught those passes with four different starting quarterbacks. He dropped a 4.42 40 on NFL talent evaluators at the combine, and his tape shows escapism and running ability after the catch.
Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State. The NFL wants size and speed at every position, but particularly at linebacker where you have to engage guards and tackles and chase running backs. Vander Esch fits the NFL prototype at 6-4, 256, with 4.66 speed in the 40. You also may want to watch the tape – Vander Esch was the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year last season, with 129 tackles, three sacks, three interceptions and three forced fumbles.