Penn State Speed?
We all had high expectations for Saquon Barkley’s NFL Scouting Combine performance this past weekend because he is a very special player who will not accept anything short of perfection from himself. All the NFL Network announcers were all ga-ga over Saquon’s 40-yard dash time of 4.40 seconds, his vertical leap of 41″, and his 29 reps on the bench press.
Other standout competitors from Penn State include Marcus Allen, Mike Gesicki and DaeSean Hamilton, but we also saw a superb performance from an unheralded and unexpected late bloomer. Riddle me this: Barkley’s superb time of 4.40 was beaten by only one running back at the NFL Scouting Combine, but he wasn’t the best in the 40 from Penn State. So, which of the PSU participants beat him?
Does the name Troy Apke ring a bell? Apke ran a 4.34, tied for fourth place overall at the combine. White boys aren’t noted for extreme speed, either. At Dear Old State Apke had a starting role as a safety and special teams player only during his senior year. The 6’2″ 198 lb Yinzer from Mount Lebanon also tied Barkley in the vertical jump, pulling off a 41″ sproingulation. The NFL evaluation concludes that Apke should make a training camp somewhere.
Saquon da Man
Back to Barkley, his 4.40 put him in a tie for 13th place overall, and in second place among running backs to Nyheim Hines of NCSU, who ran a 4.38. But speed ain’t everything. Saquon also excelled in the strength and agility drills. His 29 reps bench pressing 225 lbs, something that some of the fat guys can’t even do, disappointed him. He wanted to do 40. To put that in perspective, consider that the top score at this year’s Combine was 42. No non-linemen exceeded Barkley’s 29 reps.
Barkley is only 6’0″ tall and weighs 233, making his vertical jump of 41″ just as impressive. The NFL grade for Barkley is 7.45, classing him as a Pro-Bowl caliber player, which we have always considered him. I guess we know something after all!
Gesicki Wuddn’t No Slouch
I guess all that volleyball did some good for Mike Gesicki’s sproingulation ability. His 41.5 not only beat Saquon by a half-inch, but was tied for best over all at the Combine and was absolute best among tight ends. But wait! That’s not all! Gesicki ran a 4.54 40, tops among all the tight ends. Gesicki’s performance earned him a 5.90 rating, which gives him a chance to become an NFL starter.
I guess the main knock on Gesicki is his inability to block, something that hurt the team late in the season. The pros place a heavy premium on superb blocking tight ends, so it remains to be seen whether Zick will find a fit for his existing talents, and whether the right NFL team could ever develop his nonexistent capability as a blocker.
Other Penn State Players Who Participated
Marcus Allen had a decent combine, earning him a 5.63 rating, which also falls into the “chance to become an NFL starter” category. Jason Cabinda disappointed with only 19 reps in the bench press, winding up with a 5.00 rating, which gives him a 50-50 chance to make an NFL roster somewhere. Ploo! Chris Campbell got a 5.12, giving him a better-than-average chance to make an NFL roster. Same thing for Grant Haley, with a 5.14 rating. DaeSean Hamilton got a 5.54, which, according to the rating system, gives him a chance to become an NFL starter. If you’re an NFL fan too, it might’ve already made you wonder how much does nfl practice squad player make.
Barkley – 7.45
Gesicki – 5.90
Allen – 5.63
Hamilton – 5.54
Haley – 5.14
Campbell – 5.12
Cabinda – 5.00
Apke – 4.98
Meaning of Rankings
9.00 – 10: “Once in a lifetime player”
8.00 – 9.99: “Perennial All-Pro”
7.50 – 7.99: “Future All-Pro”
7.00 – 7.49: “Pro-Bowl caliber player”
6.50 – 6.99: “Chance to become Pro-Bowl caliber player”
6.00 – 6.49: “Should become instant starter”
5.50 – 5.99: “Chance to become NFL starter”
5.20 – 5.49: “NFL backup or special teams potential”
5.01 – 5.19: “Better than average chance to make NFL roster”
5.00: “50-50 chance to make NFL roster”
4.75 – 4.99: “Should be in an NFL training camp”
4.50 – 4.74: “Chance to be in an NFL training camp”
NO GRADE: “Why the hell am I even here?”
Of course, subjectivity is prevalent in all rankings of this kind. I went back to try to find who historically ranked where, just to gain a historical perspective on the validity of these scouting rankings, but I couldn’t find ca-ca.
Here is a link to the full NFL Scouting Combine results.
Destination Unknown for Saquon
The lowly Cleveland Browns have the first and fourth picks in the NFL Draft, which will take place in Dallas the last weekend in April. The pundits are split on whether the Browns — who have needs everywhere — will grab Barkley at #1 and perhaps go for the best remaining QB at #4. If the Browns pick a QB at #1, then Barkley will most likely go to the almost-as-lowly New York Giants at #2.
One of the predictors has Mike “Zick” Gesicki going to the Jacksonville Jaguars as a late first round pick. Zick would join former PSU standouts Paul “Poz” Posluszny and Allen “Give Me the Damn Ball” Robinson on the London Jags.
Winter Greetings from Sunny Florida
This here Turkey sure hopes all of you northerners have dug out after a very blustery winter. The twin Irish punches of Riley and Quinn, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, hopefully put the capstone on a winter most of you would just as soon forget!
Now, it’s on to Daylight Savings Time this coming Sunday morning, one of this turkey’s favorite pet peeves. (There’s a bill in the Florida legislature that would give us DST year round — but if it passes, it would still require the approval of U.S. Congress. Now, I have mixed feelings about it. Florida is already in two different time zones, and confusion would reign even further supreme if surrounding states were on different time systems. WTF, they’re trying to drive me nuts!) But I digress…
Spring is right around the corner and with it, time lunacy and the Blue/White game. Of course, watching the Blue/White game is not high on my list since it has diverged from what was a very entertaining format where St. Joe was the color guy.
(The Turkey will pop up sporadically during the off-season to gobble about whatever the hell.)