You might be asked: where were you on Friday, Mar. 2, when top NFL running back prospect and former Penn State player Saquon Barkley conquered the drills at the annual rookie combine for the upcoming draft?
That is precisely how dominant Barkley was at Lucas Oil Stadium this March. The Whitehall native participated in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, receiving drills, bench press and 20-yard shuttle.
Just how impressive were Barkley’s combine numbers?
The 40-yard Dash
Barkley clocked in at 4.4 seconds officially after completing his two trials of the 40-yard dash. Barkley was tied for 13th overall among all invited participants, and second amongst the running backs, only trailing NC State’s Nyheim Hines.
Believe it, or not, 4.4 seconds is actually not Barkley’s best dash time. In the winter of 2016, Barkley posted a 4.33 time at Penn State’s offseason workouts.
Nonetheless, his combine time is still nothing short of impressive, especially since Barkley weighs 233 pounds. What NFL team would not want to have someone with that size and the ability to run at defenders with that speed?
The next drill that Barkley wowed in was the bench press. The former first-team All-American registered 29 total reps of 225 pounds, which was 15th overall and tied for tops with Georgia’s Nick Chubb in the running back group.
At Penn State’s annual Lift for Life event in 2017, where players do various workouts in an effort to raise awareness and donations for people who suffer from rare diseases, Barkley cranked out 30 reps of 225 pounds, which would have been tied for the best among that draft class’ running backs, as well.
While some people may dispute how accurately a bench press defines one’s true strength, as Barkley out-benched All-Pro tackle Joe Thomas when he was a rookie, 29 reps is still a jaw-dropping statistic for anyone.
Penn State RB Saquon Barkley at 2018 Combine:— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) March 2, 2018
– Stronger than Joe Thomas
– Quicker than DeSean Jackson
– Faster than Devin Hester
– Jumps higher than Julio Jones@PennStateFball pic.twitter.com/usgR6vJvOn
Barkley’s vertical jump might be the most eye-opening out of all his workouts in Indianapolis.
Barkley was able to reach 41 inches in the air, No. 1 in the RB group, tied for No. 5 overall and just two inches away from tying the running back combine record set by Texas A&M product and former Seattle Seahawk Christine Michael.
I guess being able to squat 525 pounds five times and power clean 405 lbs. paid off for the future NFL rookie.
The 20-yard Shuttle
Last, but certainly not least, Barkley finished his 20-yard shuttle in 4.24 seconds, placing eighth among all running backs.
It was the only skills test that Barkley did not place in the top 15 of the combine overall. However, two other Nittany Lions were able to get their names in the ranks.
No. 26 temporarily broke the Internet as Twitter blew up with praise and excitement for Barkley’s showing.
The social media network even awarded the running back his own Twitter Moment for his dazzling display of talent.
As soon as he declared for the draft, the former Penn State running back was expected to be one of the top picks. But after the numbers he put up at the #NFLCombine, it's going to be hard for any team to pass on @saquonb21. https://t.co/gykDW5AQ5i— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) March 2, 2018
If there was any doubt by football fans, reporters and NFL scouts that Barkley was not the top prospect in the 2018 draft, that notion was completely tossed out the window after his electrifying performance.
Almost everyone with an interest in the sports world hyped up Barkley’s physique, skills and compared him to current and former star players.
Barkley improved his draft stock even more, and is rumored to be taken, at the very latest, second overall by the New York Giants.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, sources have said that Barkley is being considered by the Browns with the first selection.
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.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 4, 2018
Giants’ representatives and Barkley met on Thursday before the combine.