NFL: Talent-spotting

The NFL’s annual rookie scouting combine has drawn to its conclusion for another year as would-be rookies looked to grasp their last chance to impress the NFL scouts before their college pro days. This year the draft came from Indiana and the Indianapolis Colts’ LucasOil Stadium and we were not short of talent looking to make their mark in the NFL.

Quarterbacks

We were all waiting for Saturday to see this seasons QB class take to the field to show us what they’ve got.

USC’s Sam Darnold and Wyoming’s Josh Allen are among the top performers, with both expected to go early in the draft next month. Sam Darnold is very highly rated but he decided not to throw at the combine, a decision which saw him get a lot of heat from the media although he will have the chance to make up for it at USC’s pro day.

Josh Allen is without a doubt one of the most powerful passers in the draft this year and he showed off his arm strength repeatedly. He threw deep balls to the wide receivers over 60 and 70 yards long without too much effort needed. However, the problem he faces is his accuracy as he sported just a 56.3% accuracy rating last season in Wyoming, something which will need to be addressed if he is to become an NFL franchise QB.

Both men did well in the measurable drills too with Allen recording a very decent 4.75 second 40-yard-dash time with Darnold marginally slower at 4.85. However, they both eclipsed notable talent Josh Rosen of UCLA, a man hotly tipped as the first QB to go in the draft. He didn’t have the best of days at the combine though as he repeatedly misfired passes. That is something very uncharacteristic of a man who normally boasts great accuracy.

If I had to pick who goes first out of the three then I would say Sam Darnold goes early on, possibly even first pick, if Saquon Barkley doesn’t get there first.

Honourable mentions go to Baker Mayfield, Mason Rudolph and Lamar Jackson who could all go early on.

Players to keep an eye on:

The top performer at the combine this year has most likely been Penn State running back Saquon Barkley who posted 40-yard-dash time of 4.40. He also impressed in the bench press as he managed 29 reps of 225 lbs (or 102 kg for us Brits).

Barkley is one of the favourites to take the first overall pick of the draft and end up at Cleveland, although NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo thinks the Browns may have their eye on QB Baker Mayfield.

There was also a notable performance from Florida WR, Antonio Calloway who has seemingly put his demons firmly behind him as he surprised media and scouts alike with a very astute pass catching performance. He may have quite possibly resurrected his draft prospects after plenty of off the field incidents in the past.

Shaquem Griffin is another player to look out for when the draft finally rolls around as he put up quite impressive numbers last season for Central Florida. He lead the Knights defence in solo tackles last season with an impressive 57, despite only having one hand. He lost his left hand due to a rare pre-natal condition but didn’t let that stop him getting where he wants to be. Griffin is not only a great athlete but has a great story to go with it.

Sub-edited by Matthew Cooper

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