When everything is taken into account – ability, potential, character – the safest pick in this year’s NFL draft is likely running back Saquon Barkley from Penn State.
And over the first two days of the scouting combine, Barkley has done nothing to disappoint.
On Thursday, Barkley, who measured 6-feet, 233 pounds, did 29 reps on the bench press (fellow running back Nick Chubb also recorded 29), which was better than all but five of the 36 offensive linemen who took part in bench this year.
He followed it up Friday with even more amazing numbers: a 41-inch vertical jump, and 4.41- and 4.42-second times (unofficial) in the 40-yard dash.
NFL Research tweeted that there was one player with 25 or more reps in bench press and a vertical of 40 or more inches in 2017: Myles Garrett, who went No. 1 in the draft to Cleveland and is a 6-foot-4, 270-pound pass-rusher.
Pro Football Reference offered even more historical perspective: the website has combine data going back to 2000, and only one player can match or better Barkley’s output in the bench, vertical and 40 – tight end Vernon Davis, in 2006. Davis did 33 reps on bench, had a 42-inch vertical and a 4.38-second time in the 40.
And for comparison, when Dallas Cowboys standout Ezekiel Elliott took part in the 2016 combine, he recorded a 31-inch vertical and 4.47 second 40-dash at 6-feet, 225 pounds. That 40 time is also faster than Alvin Kamara, the 2017 offensive rookie of the year, and Leonard Fournette.
Based on his performances at Penn State, his off-field makeup and interviews, Barkley was already highly impressive. But he is certainly rising to the occasion in Indianapolis this week.
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