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The NFL Combine Has Smart General Managers Thinking Crazy Again

Saquon Barkley and Josh Allens recent NFL Draft stock rise is just another example of how wacky, unpredictable and influential the NFL Combine is. When the combine blows through, anything we thought we knew about the top players in the country can be thrown out of the window. 

Heroes from powerhouse schools fall and inspirational stories from unheralded locations get thrust into the spotlight by draft analysts, scouts and media mouths. All of this information and analysis is recorded and still teams miss on Hall of Fame talents such as Tom Brady (6th round pick) Russell Wilson (3rd round pick) and Aeneas Williams (3rd round). 

Players rise and dive based on 40 times, shuttle runs, critical analysis by Mock Draft talking heads, Wonderlic tests and bench-press results. Its a process that costs agents a load of money as they try to prepare their client to master a series of all-important drills that they will never actually use in a football game. You can probably learn more about a guys actual athleticism and skills in a private workout or pro day session. Nevertheless the combine effect is real. 

NFL on Twitter

WOW. @ShaquemGriffin just ran a 4.38u 40-yard dash! The fastest LB at the #NFLCombine since 2003. : @Nflnetwork https://t.co/TKHXVZri4n

Kansas City offensive lineman Eric Fisher rose from relative obscurity at Central Michigan to become the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft because he had a strong Senior Bowl and combine. On the flip side, Lamar Jackson unfathomably went from the most talented and electrifying QB in the 2018 draft to a wide receiver prospect. And now he’s QB or bust and nobody has a clue of when he’ll be drafted.  

Taylor Rooks on Twitter

On Lamar Jackson. https://t.co/FU9iCqhUC9

For the last six months we’ve been hearing how Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold are the top QB prospects, with Baker Mayfield somewhere in the mix and Allen on the outside of that upper echelon with his considerably strong, but somewhat inaccurate arm.  

The narrative seemed to hold until a few weeks ago, when the Giants, who everyone assumed would be drafting the heir apparent to Eli Manning in the first round with the No. 2 pick, reportedly switched their attention to Penn State multi-purpose running back Saquon Barkley.

NFL Research on Twitter

Penn State RB Saquon Barkley at 2018 Combine: – Stronger than Joe Thomas – Quicker than DeSean Jackson – Faster than Devin Hester – Jumps higher than Julio Jones @PennStateFball

Barkley got the bag at the combine and strengthened the possibility of Cleveland snatching him with the No. 1 pick, leaving the Giants, who seem content on passing on a QB in the first round to possibly pick N.C. State pass-rusher Bradley Chubb. Chubb is ranked by Sporting News as the No. 1 defensive player in the 2018 NFL Draft and ran an impressive 4.65 40-yard dash.  

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

After days of evaluation at the #Combine, one thing is clear: Penn St RB Saquon Barkley is firmly in the mix at No. 1 for the #Browns, sources say. Would be the first RB at that spot since Ki-Jana Carter to the #Bengals in 1995.

If Cleveland doesnt go that route, the word is Allen, with all of his flaws, has blown up the board and Cleveland may be looking to draft him at No. 1 —  if they pass on Darnold, who refused to throw at the combine, but is reportedly also in the running. 

NFL Research on Twitter

Josh Allen has been quite impressive at the 2018 Combine @WyomingFootball

Its hard to keep up with all of the mock drafts and varying opinions that change with every power lift or unexpectedly high 40 time. 

Last season, Deshaun Watson was clearly the best QB in the draft, but Cleveland passed on him choosing to draft Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, and the Chicago Bears fell victim to the combine rise of unheralded QB Mitch Trubisky. Kansas City picked Patrick Mahomes at No. 10,  two picks before Watson. 

Of course, Watson’s impact on the Texans was felt immediately and emphatically before he injured himself in a non-contact situation. 

Even in limited duty, Watson lapped the other QB’s in his draft class and proved that what everyone was seeing with their eyes when he was in college couldnt be altered by crazy questions, some drills, a lot of media confusion and football guys sitting in a room trying to outsmart themselves.  

If anything, all of this combine overanalysis makes the NFL Draft a must see. 

Unlike drafts of the past, this years No. 1 pick is truly up in the air and will greatly affect how the first five to ten picks shake out. The mind-altering effects of the NFL combine strikes again. 

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