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September 12th, 2018, 6:36 am #1

All that's left of the 2018 NFL scouting combine is for the deepest class of defensive backs ever to attend the annual assembly of college prospects to wrap up their testing and timing Monday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Then Garry Gilliam Jersey , they'll join the other hopefuls in returning home to prepare for their pro days, team visits and the NFL draft in Arlington, Texas, next month.

Here's a look at some of the highlights and lowlights of this year's combine:

BARKLEY BLOWS IT UP : Penn State running back Saquon Barkley exceeded lofty expectations in Indianapolis. His 29 reps on the bench press bested Luke Kuechly's 27. His 4.4 time in the 40-yard dash was better than Ezekiel Elliott's 4.47 and his 41-inch vertical jump was higher than Odell Beckham Jr.'s 38陆.

"Oh no, I'm not surprised," said Nittany Lions linebacker Jason Cabinda, saying he's seen that kind of dogged determination every day out of Barkley, who could go anywhere in the top five picks depending on the run on quarterbacks.

"I'm competitive," Barkley said, "but I don't care if I'm drafted 1, 5 or 72 or the last pick, I'm going to come in with my head low ready to work."

GREAT GRIFFIN : Shaquem Griffin did 20 reps on the bench press with a prosthetic left hand in what was by far the best feel-good story of the combine.

"My goal was six," acknowledged Griffin, who almost doubled his previous high of 11 reps and surpassed the 17 his twin brother, Shaquille Alec Ogletree Jersey , managed at last year's combine before the Seattle Seahawks selected the speedy cornerback in the third round.

Griffin is expected to be a mid-rounder like his brother.

"This is a legitimate football player," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. "He's an energy giver."

One who, conversely, fed off the hoots and hollers during his bench press.

"Everybody in the stands was hyping me up. I got the guys I'm here with hyping me up. It felt amazing," Griffin said.

JACK OF ONE TRADE : Louisville QB Lamar Jackson showed off a strong arm and excellent footwork but also some inconsistency while throwing to receivers Saturday. What he didn't do was run routes.

Many wonder if the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner might be best suited as an NFL receiver, but he insists he's "strictly a quarterback."

Mayock called Jackson the best and most fascinating athlete in this year's draft, noting that while his passing game needs plenty of polish, he's going to have an immediate impact running the football.

"He's Michael Vick," Mayock said. "He has as good a pair of legs as anybody in the history of the game. And he's going to win games with his legs."

DARNOLD'S DODGE : USC quarterback Sam Darnold refused to throw at the combine, preferring to show off his arm at his upcoming pro day with receivers he's used to playing with.

"I was a little disappointed Darnold didn't throw," Mayock said. "You get a chance to show off a little bit here. This is all about competition. I wonder in his heart of hearts if he missed competing (Saturday). Because the other guys went out and ripped it pretty good.

"I thought Josh Allen put on a show."

HURST GOES HOME : Michigan defensive lineman Maurice Hurst Jr., a possible first-rounder, was kept out of drills at the combine after doctors reportedly red-flagged a heart condition. Hurst told Utah defensive lineman Lowell Lotulelei that he had been diagnosed with the same heart condition as Lotulelei's older brother, Star.

Hurst, a 6-foot-2 O. J. Howard Jersey , 280-pound defensive tackle, had 59 tackles and 5陆 sacks last season. He also had 13 tackles for loss and has been considered one component of a deep class of defensive tackles in this year's draft.

BAD, BAD ORLANDO BROWN JR. : The only thing that went well for Oklahoma's massive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. was the vote of confidence from his Heisman Trophy-winning teammate.

"When are you ever going to watch Orlando Brown run 40 yards down the field?" quarterback Baker Mayfield asked. "You can watch last year's tape and see he allowed zero sacks. I'd say that's pretty important for a left tackle."

It sure is.

But measures matter, too, and Brown's wretched week will surely cause him to slide down draft boards: He managed just 14 reps on the bench press, lumbered though the 40-yard dash in 5.85 seconds and put up historically poor numbers in the broad and vertical jumps.

THIN AT TACKLE : Notre Dame's Mike McGlinchey is projected as a late first-rounder, but if he falls to the second round, this year's NFL draft would be the first one in more than a half century without an offensive tackle taken in the first round.

The last time that happened was in 1965, and there were only 11 first-round picks that year. The last time a tackle wasn't selected in the top 32 picks was in 1960, when Len Rohde of Utah State went to the San Francisco 49ers with the 38th overall selection in the fifth round.

Alex Smith is frustrating Josh Norman.

Norman likes having Smith with the Washington Redskins, but practice time against the veteran quarterback at training camp hasn't been as beneficial as the big-money cornerback had hoped. That's because Smith has been so on-point with his decision-making and throws that Norman isn't getting a whole lot of work in team drills.

"You're in great position, you get there top of the route, you're ready for your play to be made and it doesn't come," Norman said. "But the ones you are a little step behind on and you're almost there to make it, he throws it. It's those games Steven Nelson Jersey , cat and mouse, man. It's cat-and-mouse games that it just sucks when you're the mouse."

Norman feels like the mouse early in camp but hopes facing a QB like Smith each day benefits him in the long run. Entering the third season of a $75 million, five-year contract, Norman is balancing the lack of work he's getting during 11-on-11 time with his usual half-hour plus of individual drills after practice as one of the last players on the field.

"That's what you've got to do to be the best, to be great like him," said undrafted rookie safety Quin Blanding, who worked out with Norman following practice Sunday. "It just shows he wants extra work no matter all the work he's done in practice. It's always find ways to get better, and that's what he's doing."

Norman is known for his post-practice regimen, whether it's going for jump balls or catching in rapid succession out of a JUGS machine. But none of that compares to team snaps, where Smith is avoiding Norman the way he would in a real game.

"I'm just staying the course and trying to understand that your technique is not flawed, continue to do what you do even though your chances are not coming," Norman said. "But when they do come, try to be better than the quarterback in making a play. He's so precise right now, so he's not making mistakes, and that's the biggest thing you've seen. Even in practice Terrell Suggs Jersey , he's not making mistakes. It's hard to try to key in on that."

Coach Jay Gruden approves. His offense is built around quick decisions and finding the right receiver to throw to, and that's not usually by challenging Norman.

"Josh is getting plenty of work," Gruden said Tuesday. "We're not going to throw a flat route out to Josh Norman and let him pick it. That's just common sense, so Josh is going to have to wait for somebody else to throw it to him."

Norman is still isolating elements of his game to work on at age 30, going into his seventh NFL season. He had no interceptions last year and dropped more than a handful of prime opportunities, so at practice he's working on the little things that turn a broken-up pass into a pick.

"Being in place is the first part, but finishing the ball should be something that already is established and ingrained in you," Norman said. "It's just that six inches from making a play to not making a play."

Trying to close the gap on those inches is what goes into Norman's extra work after practice. And in the process, he's helping young defensive backs like Blanding and Kenny Ladler develop the same kind of habits.

"You fix the mistakes and then when it comes again, you don't make the same mistake," Blanding said. "You've got to be ready to work no matter if it feels like a great day of practice or if it was a bad day of practice. You've got to put that aside and you've just got to work. You've got to keep on working, and that's what he does."

NOTES: RB Chris Thompson, who's recovering from surgery to repair a broken right fibula, took his first snaps in team drills Tuesday. ... LB Mason Foster was limited at practice by a strained stomach muscle.

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