--Saquon Barkley was already a lock to be a top-10 selection even before he arrived in Indianapolis. After his performance in Friday’s workout, there will be many advocating he goes No. 1. That’s what happens when a humbly confident, proud young man puts on the kind of show Barkley did.
Barkley had the most bench press reps of any RB, with 29. He had the highest vertical jump, 41 inches. His official 40-yard dash time of 4.40 is the second-fastest among RBs (North Carolina State’s Nyheim Hines was at 4.38). Considering he’s also one of the heaviest RBs here in Indy at 233 pounds on his 6-foot frame, that’s an incredible Combine performance. Combined with his affable, intelligent interview, it’s one of the most impressive all-around Combines for any player I can recall. The workouts are just concluding the first day, but it’s hard to imagine anyone surpassing Barkley as the week’s big winner.
--On the flip side, Orlando Brown has had a very rough couple of days. The Oklahoma left tackle turned in one of the slowest times of the century, a 5.86 in the 40-yard dash. It wasn’t just the plodding time, either. Brown, 6-7 and 345, appeared as if he’d never run that distance in his life. His sloppy physique and stiff knees and hips were all kinds of disappointing.
That came on the heels of his regrettable bench press performance on Thursday. While it’s tough for long-armed guys to rack up prodigious reps, Brown’s 14 reps at 225 pounds was lower than most running backs. Brown’s work in the positional drills at Lucas Oil Stadium didn’t help his cause. He was also chastised by the coaches running the drills for loafing.
His Sooners game tape is uneven and reflects the limited athleticism. His sheer length and pedigree – his father is the late Orlando “Zeus” Brown – had him in the top 40 of most contemporary mock drafts. Expect that to change.
An early and informal polling of some fellow draft media members and a couple of NFL team sources has Brown completely out of the conversation in the first round. One AFC South team staffer told me he believes Brown will fall “well out of the top 100.”
--The quarterback interviews were on Friday, and the big names drew massive crowds in front of their podiums. I was in and out on Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold’s podium times, but I made it a point to catch an extended portion of UCLA’s Josh Rosen.
I’m glad I did.
Rosen often gets painted as an aloof, self-centered and arrogant, primarily by people who have never met him. The Josh Rosen who stood before us today was nothing like that. He was candid. He was humble. He was sincere, or at least gave the illusion to even some of his more skeptical critics that he was.
Rosen talked about being honest with himself, about trying to be who he is and not who teams want him to be. His answers were spontaneous but calculated, exactly what you want; he was prepared but also quick on his feet.
There is no question he deserves to be in the conversation for the top QB. I feel better about my stance that he is the most NFL-ready passer in this class after spending some 10 minutes within arm’s reach of Rosen today. As my friend Jon Ledyard wrote for NDT Scouting, the personality slander needs to stop.
Here are some of the tidbits I’ve heard here and there, from the media room to the dead time in the interview center to the overpriced bars of downtown Indianapolis in the 36 hours I’ve been in town. Do with them what you will, but these are presented more for entertainment and informational value than as “I heard this, therefore it will happen!” hot takes.
--Do not be surprised if no offensive tackles go in the first round. One seasoned member of NFL and draft media told me, and I made him repeat it to make sure I got the quote right,
“There is not one offensive tackle in this draft who should play a game next year. Not a one.”
I think that’s pretty harsh, but there is no question this is an uninspiring group of tackles. Most teams consider Texas’ Connor Williams, who is currently atop most draftnik tackle boards, a guard and guard only in the NFL.
--Kirk Cousins to Minnesota is a very popular take, and that includes folks from both Minnesota and Washington (his old team). In more than 20 conversations I’ve had with people about Cousins over the last couple of weeks, not one person with legit NFL or Cousins connections has ever brought up the New York Jets. Denver, Arizona and Cleveland (as a non-starter) are the others that get mentioned.
--The Cleveland Browns could very well clean out the entire QB room from 2017. Dumping Cody Kessler, who lost yards on 6 of the last 10 snaps he played, and Kevin Hogan wouldn’t surprise anyone. But there are loudening whispers the team will also move DeShone Kizer in one form or another. One possible destination: Kansas City. The Chiefs need a young backup for Patrick Mahomes, and Browns GM John Dorsey was the Chiefs GM at this time one year ago.
--You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who thinks the Buffalo Bills are going to have both their current first-round selections come draft night. The most common theory is they package No. 21 and No. 22 together to move up, but a couple of people I trust tell me it’s more likely they move up with one of the picks and down with the other, to get more picks later. Those moves could be lumped together. I’m told they really like Georgia LB Roquan Smith.
--That sound you hear might be the younger NFL coaches and execs snickering at Jon Gruden’s press conference on Thursday. His “throw it back to 1998” and genuine befuddlement at what a PDF is were not well-received by folks who were not coaching in the league during his last tenure. One very prominent national NFL media member was mocking Gruden’s hiring of OL coach Tom Cable, who was “a walking disaster of a dinosaur” in Seattle. Gruden’s Raiders are going to be fascinating, that’s for sure.