NFL Scouting Combine: Day 5 observations

Indianapolis – Sunday was the fifth and final day of media availability at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. The linebackers and defensive line took part in the on-field testing while the defensive backs met with the media and took part in the bench press.

Here are three takeaways from Day 5 of the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine.

Linebackers workout

Sunday was the chance for the linebackers to work out on the field at Lucas oil Stadium. Of the three Wisconsin linebackers invited to the combine, two of them took part in Leon Jacobs and Garret Dooley. Jack Cichy did not participate as he continues rehab from surgery after tearing the ACL in his right knee in August.

Jacobs continued to test well, as expected. His first 40-yard dash time was 4.48 seconds, officially. His second attempt was slightly slower than that at 4.55 seconds. Jacobs mentioned to me on Saturday afternoon that he expected to run a 4.5.

Dooley didn’t run as fast as Jacobs did, nor was he expected to. His first attempt at the 40-yard dash was 4.92 seconds. He was able to improve on his second attempt clocking in at 4.81 seconds.

The show was stolen by UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin for the second consecutive day. On Saturday, he bench pressed 225lbs 20 times despite only having one hand and having to use a prosthetic device in order to grasp the bar with his left arm. On Sunday, Griffin ran the fastest 40-yard dash for a linebacker in the past 15 years at the combine. He clocked a 4.38 in his first attempt, the third-fastest time of anyone at the combine so far, this year.

Defensive backs speak

The defensive backs were the final position group of the media to speak at the combine. This is an area where the Packers could potentially be interested. The top player in the group is Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick, although it is more likely he is drafted far before the Packers are slated to select at No. 14 overall.

A couple of prospects that could make sense for Green Bay are Florida State safety Derwin James and Iowa corner Josh Jackson.

James is a physical safety that could play both in the box and on the back end of the defense. Fitzpatrick, on the other hand, is a defensive back that is more versatile in the sense that he can play either safety position or corner.

James also said that he has met formally with the Packers already.

Jackson was one of the best corners in the Big Ten at Iowa. Fans might remember him having three interceptions against Ohio State and following it up with two interceptions returned for touchdowns against Wisconsin the very next week at Camp Randall.

Lastly, Denzel Ward is regarded as the other top defensive back in the draft. The Ohio State product is a sure-fire first round pick that will be able to come in and make an impact from day one.

Any of them would make sense at No. 14 overall for the Packers.

More Badgers

While Saturday had a trio of Wisconsin linebackers speak to the media – Jacobs, Cichy, and Dooley – Sunday featured a pair of defensive backs from the Badgers.

First, Natrell Jamerson met with the media. Jamerson began his career at Wisconsin as a wide receiver before moving to corner and ultimately safety in his final year. He is at the combine as just that, but does believe that he could play anywhere in the defensive backfield in the NFL.

Jamerson tested on the bench press after meeting with the media where he posted 25 reps of 225lbs. He out-performed four of the five other Badgers there, trailing only Jacobs by a single rep. Jamerson tied with Arizona’s Dane Cruickshank to lead the defensive backs.

Later in the afternoon corner Nick Nelson met with the media and said that he expects to run his 40-yard dash faster than Jamerson, and hopes to be sub-4.4. Nelson was not quite as impressive as Jamerson in the bench press as he finished with 17 reps, tying him for 12th among defensive backs.

NFL Scouting Combine: Day 4 observations

Indianapolis – On Day 4 of the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine the media had the opportunity to meet with defensive linemen and linebackers. The wide receivers, tight ends, and quarterbacks all worked out as well on Saturday.

Here are three observations from Day 4 of the combine.

Trio of Badgers

Former Wisconsin linebackers Jack Cichy, Leon Jacobs, and Garret Dooley met with the media on Saturday in Indianapolis. All three were seated at the same table inside the convention center.

The trio also took part in the bench press prior to meeting with the media. Jacobs was the most impressive of the three with 26 reps. Dooley and Cichy trailed behind him with 21 and 18 reps, respectively.

All three are excited to be taking part in the combine, as everyone knows.

“Just being a part of it, I’m definitely blessed,” Dooley said. “To be able to come here and just kind of showcase my skills and my personality is definitely an honor.”

The combine is obviously a huge event for everyone involved, but it might mean the most for Cichy. He missed part of his redshirt junior season with a torn pectoral. Cichy then tore the ACL in his right knee during fall camp causing him to miss the entire 2017 season.

“Honestly, just being to get myself back out there and show what I know,” Cichy said was his favorite part of the combine. “Throughout these years with all the coordinators we’ve had [at Wisconsin] I’ve been able to accrue a lot of good football information and I think I’ve been able to be pretty football savvy. In those interviews, just kind of being able to express that and show teams how I’ve grown in that aspect has been awesome.”

Jacobs was expected to test the best of three. He put up the best number on the bench press and expects to run a 4.5-second 40-yard dash on Sunday.

Both Jacobs and Dooley did say that they have informally met with the Green Bay Packers, Cichy has not.

It is worth noting that Wisconsin tight end Troy Fumagalli did not take part in the on-field workout Saturday.

Wide receivers test on the field

When the wide receivers met with the media on Friday afternoon it seemed as if the Green Bay Packers had met with many of the top prospects in the class. On Saturday those prospects took part the on-field workout portion of the combine.

Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley is regarded as the best in the class. He posted one of the faster 40-yard dash times of the day at 4.43 seconds. Maryland wide receiver D.J. Moore was the fastest of the receivers that said he had met with the Packers. He clocked a 4.42 40-yard dash. Moore also had the second-highest vertical jump at 39.5”.

Notre Dame wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown may be the prospect that improved his stock the most with the on-field testing. After measuring nearly 6-foot-5 and 214lbs he ran a 4.48 40-yard dash. St. Brown also did well in the bench press on Friday, posting 20 reps.

With the Packers having visited with a number of receivers this week, today could certainly further their interest a few guys. With Moore and St. Brown testing well, it could encourage the Packers to give them a more serious look should Ridley be picked before Green Bay drafts at No. 14 overall.

Shaquem Griffin

The story of Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin has been told relatively frequently over the past few months. Griffin was both with a disorder called amniotic band syndrome that affected his left hand and caused his fingers to not develop fully.

At the age of four Griffin was caught by his mother in the kitchen with a knife trying to self-amputate his fingers. The family then scheduled an appointment and his hand was amputated the following day.

That didn’t stop Griffin from playing college football at a high level, earning the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 and being named a Second-team All-American in 2017.

He did enough to earn an invitation to the combine and has unquestionably the best story of anyone in Indianapolis.

Griffin put on a show Saturday afternoon with his performance of 20 reps on the bench press with the help of a prosthetic device that he is able to put on his left wrist in order to grasp the barbell.

“So many people are going to have doubt on things about what I can do,” Griffin said when talking with the media Saturday evening. “Obviously it started at the bench press. Some people didn’t think I could do three, some people didn’t think I could do five, some people didn’t even think I could do the bench press. I went and did the bench press and competed with everybody else and did 20 [reps]. That’s just one step closer to everything that I need to be able to accomplish.”

Despite the outstanding play on the field, there are plenty of questions about him due to his deformity. The fact that he’s competing at the highest level is inspirational to many as it should be.

“I hope I inspire a lot [of people]. I always told everybody, if I can inspire one [person] they can inspire one more and I can inspire a thousand later. If I keep doing what I’m doing now then I can change a lot of minds of a lot of people and be able to inspire more kids every day.”

NFL Scouting Combine: Day 3 observations

Indianapolis – The 2018 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis continued on Friday with the quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends, and specialists meeting with the media.

Here are three takeaways from the day:

Help in the wide receiver room

Friday is when all of the wide receivers met with the media. This class doesn’t have a sure-fire top receiver in it. Calvin Ridley, who played college at the University of Alabama, is expected to be the first receiver taken off of the board. With that being said, it would come as a surprise to no one if he stuck around until the middle of the first round.

The other receivers in this class that could find themselves in Green Bay include James Washington of Oklahoma State, Equanimeous St. Brown from Notre Dame, Christian Kirk from Texas A&M, or Maryland’s D.J. Moore.

Those four all said that they have met with the Green Bay Packers – either formally or informally – while in Indianapolis.

Indiana wide receiver Simmie Cobbs also said that he met with the Packers informally with no plans for a formal visit as of Friday afternoon.

It’s common for teams to take meetings with as many prospects as possible at the combine, but this position is certainly worth watching with the looming contract situations of current wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.

If one, or both, of Cobb and Nelson are gone next fall when the Packers hit the field, drafting one of these four receivers certainly could help to lessen the impact.

Wisconsin on the scene

After the first day of player availability, no players from the University of Wisconsin had spoken yet. That changed on Friday when tight end Troy Fumagalli met with the media.

Expectedly, the first few questions that Fumagalli fielded from members of the media were about the fact that he only has four fingers on his left hand. This was something that happened when Fumagalli was exposed to national media during his time at Wisconsin, but did not come up on a day-to-day basis.

“Woodshop class, I guess that was my best one,” Fumagalli joked when asked what his best fake story about losing his finger was. “No, I’m pretty serious about it. I just tell people how it happened at birth. At serious events like this I don’t mess around with that stuff.

“I know it’s part of the process. [Teams] invest a lot of money in people and they need to know everything so that doesn’t bother me,” he said when asked if the questions about his missing finger annoyed him.

Fumagalli also said that he did meet with the Packers while at the combine already.

“I love the Packers. I love what they do with the offense and things like that. Yeah, I’d love to stay at home in Wisconsin.”

Saquon Barkley impresses

The Packers won’t be drafting Saquon Barkley in the draft this year. That needs to be said before the rest of this is written.

Barkley, however, has been one of the stars of the combine to this point.

In the bench press on Thursday, Barkley benched 225lbs 29 times, tied for most among the running backs with Nick Chubb from Georgia. For a point of reference, Barkley beat all but five offensive linemen at the combine.

On Friday, Barkley took part in on-field drills at Lucas Oil Stadium. He tested extremely well in both the 40-yard dash and vertical leap. The Penn State product had the second fastest time in the 40-yard dash at 4.41, two hundredths of a second slower than Nyheim Hines from NC State.

Barkley was the leader at the running back positon in the vertical jump with 41 inches.

Whether or not these things will translate on to the field in the NFL remains to be seen, but his athleticism is certainly undeniable.