News And Notes From Friday At The 2018 NFL Combine

The Redskins.com crew provides news and notes from Friday, March 2, 2018, at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

Jay Gruden wants to add pieces to the offense.

During his interview with the media this week while in Indianapolis, Washington’s head coach noted that he wants to add another running back to the mix along with a wide receiver that can bring a speed element and, potentially, a left guard as well.

On Friday, the running backs and offensive linemen were the first position groups to participate in on-field workouts while the wide receivers had their media sessions.

Here’s more from some of the prospects at those positons:

--As expected, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley excelled during on-field drills. The expected first running back selected in the 2018 NFL Draft ran a 4.40-second 40-yard dash while also recording a 41-inch vertical leap, a full-inch higher than any other running back. Additionally, his 29 bench press reps of 225 pounds was tied for the most among running backs with Georgia’s Nick Chubb. According to NFL Research, Barkley joins current Redskins tight end Vernon Davis (2006) as the only players since 2003 to weigh 230 pounds, run the 40-yard dash in 4.40 seconds or faster and vertical jump 40 inches or higher.

--While Barkley will likely be gone long before the Redskins make any selections in the draft, two potential options at some point could be Georgia’s Sony Michel and USC’s Ronald Jones II. While both running backs struggled in the 40-yard dash, their college numbers could be the basis for early selections. Considered a “decisive runner who rarely takes unnecessary losses by trying to be the hero,” by his NFL.com draft profile, Michel averaged more than six yards per carry on 590 carries in his time with the Bulldogs. Jones, meanwhile, is coming off a season in which he rushed for 1,550 yards and 19 touchdowns.

--Like Barkley at the running back position, Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson is considered the top interior offensive lineman in this year’s class. But others like UTEP’s Will Hernandez are trying to use their time in Indianapolis to climb up draft boards. After a strong showing at the Senior Bowl on the field, Hernandez continued the trend during drills Thursday and Friday. First, Hernandez tallied the most bench press reps (37) of any offensive lineman before finishing in the top 10 at the group in the 40-yard dash (5.15 seconds).

Check out these photos of Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington.

--At the wide receiver positon, Gruden said the team would like to add more speed on the outside to “take the top off from time to time.” One player that could potentially fill that role is Oklahoma State’s James Washington. During his senior season, Washington averaged 20.9 yards per reception, the benchmark amongst FBS players with at least 50 receptions. Additionally, he led all receivers in catches of 30 yards or longer (19), catches of 40 yards or longer (11) and catches of 50 yards or longer (eight). “I just think it’s my skillset,” Washington said of being able to succeed on the outside despite being six-feet tall. “With having speed on the outside, stretching the field, teams can only do certain things to stop that.” 

--Quarterbacks also spoke at the podium on Friday, providing another opportunity for the media to speak with a talent-heavy group of varying skillsets and backgrounds. Of supreme focus  was Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, who plainly stated that his passion for the game is what sets him apart from the other QB’s in his class. He also mentioned the desire to get into meeting rooms and speak candidly about himself to scouts and coaches, to unveil his brutally honest self without media distorting his words. That was the same way UCLA’s Josh Rosen felt, who said he separates himself from the pack with his pocket quarterback play and picking apart defenses. Rosen in particular said he was glad to get advice from former teammates and friends about this process. “Jared Goff is telling me that every nook and cranny you can find in the schedule for a nap take it, because you will be tired,” Rosen said.

Meanwhile, USC quarterback Sam Darnold, projected by many to be the best quarterback available, explained his decision not to throw in front of scouts at the NFL Combine rather simply. “It was the best decision for me,” he said, indicating that he’d rather throw at his Pro Day to receivers and at a facility he’s comfortable with.

--Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson was adamant Friday at his media session that he would not entertain the idea of playing another position in the NFL. Reports surfaced this week that multiple teams would ask Jackson to work out at the wide receiver position, but Jackson said he hadn’t heard any requests to this point, and wouldn’t play for a team that wanted him to switch. “No team has asked me to try out at wide receiver," Jackson said. "I don’t know where that came from. I’m strictly a quarterback.” Jackson threw for more than 9,000 yards and 69 touchdowns in his three years with the Cardinals, compiling an additional 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns on the ground.

--This year’s wide receiver group isn’t as strong as in years past, and nobody jumps out among the unit. The closest might be Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who has been mocked to the Redskins by at least one pundit in the first round. He doesn’t have the same size as other receivers in his class but he said Friday that his route-running is what separates him from his peers.  “I don’t feel like I’m a slow guy, I think I’m fast, but I know I ain’t the biggest guy,” Ridley said. “But like I said, I feel like it doesn’t matter, I’m a ball player, I make plays.” As Charles Davis told us this afternoon, without a transformational wide receiver in this year’s draft, it doesn’t seem imperative to spend a first-round selection on a receiver, especially considering the last few years haven’t produced the kinds of immediate impact players expected out of a high-value pick. If the Redskins can get someone of similar value in the third or even fourth round, that will likely be the better option.

--Several players from the tight ends group have some unique backgrounds. Jaylen Samuels from N.C. State has the “TE” labeled to his jersey but he said Friday that he sees himself in the same mold as Ty Montgomery – making the switch to the NFL backfield. He’ll be doing some extra drills after the tight ends group works out on Saturday. South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst, another top prospect in the group, discussed some of his baseball background with reporters while Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki spoke at length about the value that playing basketball and volleyball throughout high school had in terms of learning to play tight end at the collegiate level.  

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