2018 NFL Scouting Combine Preview: Running Backs
The 2018 NFL Scouting Combine gets underway in full on Friday, March 2nd. Each timed drill or on-field drill means something for each position. In fact, some drills mean more and some mean less.
Today we are going to break down the Running Back position as it relates to the Scouting Combine.
WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR AT RB?
The athletic testing drills are a very important part of rating these ball carriers.
What drills am I focusing on?
40-YARD DASH – Obviously looking for straight-line speed here. Specifically, is the back a home run hitter? Also, check out the 10-yard split on the 40’s.
VERTICAL LEAP & BROAD JUMP – I lump these two together because they both test a player’s lower body explosiveness.
THREE-CONE DRILL – It is also known as the “L” drill. Above all, it tests a player’s lateral agility.
The main thing I look for during the field drills from RBs is their change of direction ability. In addition to the change of direction, do they look natural catching the football? Also, can they run a disciplined pass route?
For the players not fortunate enough to play in an All-Star game (mostly underclassmen), official measurements are key. Whether we as fans or analysts like it or not, each of the 32 NFL teams has certain criteria that a player must meet or they will not draft them. Whether it is a height threshold, a weight threshold, or a certain hand size, teams will cross guys off if they don’t meet their numbers.
WHO IS PARTICIPATING THIS YEAR?
Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Derrius Guice, LSU
Ronald Jones, Southern Cal
Sony Michel, Georgia
Nick Chubb, Georgia
Rashaad Penny, San Diego State
Josh Adams, Notre Dame
Royce Freeman, Oregon
Kerryon Johnson, Auburn
Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
Nyheim Hines, NC State
Mark Walton, Miami (FL)
John Kelly, Tennessee
Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
Akrum Wadley, Iowa
Darrel Williams, LSU
Justin Jackson, Northwestern
Justin Crawford, West Virginia
Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan
Lavon Coleman, Washington
Chase Edmonds, Fordham
Chris Warren, Texas
Kamryn Pettway, Auburn
Roc Thomas, Jacksonville State
Demario Richard, Arizona State
Kyle Hicks, TCU
Jordan Wilkins, Mississippi
Jeff Wilson, North Texas
Jaylen Samuels, NC State (FB)
Dimitri Flowers, Oklahoma (FB)
Nick Bawden, San Diego State (FB)
Ryan Nall, Oregon State (FB)
The biggest name here is obviously Penn State RB Saquon Barkley. Barkley is my #1 overall player in the 2018 draft. He is also the favorite to run the fastest 40. Furthermore, the main challenger to the 40 throne for Barkley could be NC State RB Nyheim Hines. Additionally, Hines ran the opening leg on the Wolfpack 4×100 relay team. Hence, a couple of players who can boost their respective stocks by putting in a respectable dash time are Kerryon Johnson of Auburn and Royce Freeman of Oregon.
Another rarely talked about portion of the Combine are the team interviews with the prospects. So, for someone like Kam Pettway of Auburn, who was kicked out of school, he can try to do damage control on his red flags.
What Running Back(s) are you most looking forward to seeing take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium? Let us know in the comments below!
A reminder: The NFL Combine and Pro Days are only a small percentage of the evaluation. In fact, game tape is always the number one factor in prospect evaluation.
Next time we will preview the Combine Wide Receivers!