INDIANAPOLIS —Almost like a machine, Saquon Barkley advanced from station to station at this week's NFL Scouting Combine workouts proving exactly why he's considered by many to be the best player in this year's NFL Draft class.
First came the measurements, in which the chiseled standout Penn State running back came in at an even 6-foot and 233 pounds — plenty of size to do all the dirty work that'll be asked of him at the next level.
Then came the bench press workouts, in which Barkley put up 29 reps of 225 pounds, tied for the most at his position; only four offensive linemen — *offensive linemen *— did more reps this year.
And then, the on-field drills.
With strength already checked off the list, Barkley next showed off his speed with a 4.4-second 40-yard dash. He showed off his shiftiness with a 4.24-second 20-yard shuffle. And then he just straight showed off with a 41-inch vertical leap.
You want a running back who can do it all? Look no further than Saquon Barkley.
"I'm a versatile player," Barkley said this week when asked what his strengths were. "I think I've shown on film that I can run the ball. I can run it between the tackles or outside. I can catch the ball out of the backfield. I can pass-block. And I can play special teams. I want to continue to grow my game and continue to be a complete player."
In just three seasons, Barkley finished his Penn State career as the school's all-time leading rushing touchdown (43) and total touchdown (53) record holder, as well as all-purpose yards (5,538). He was consistent, scoring a touchdown in a school record 15 straight games and becoming the only player in school history — and just the fourth-ever in Big Ten Conference — to gain 3,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards over his career.
A unanimous NCAA Consensus All-American in 2017, Barkley has almost assured himself to be a Top-5 pick in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Barkley said all the right things to reporters this week about that prospect; that he'd play for any team that wanted to select him, and it doesn't matter to him "if I'm drafted (No.) 1, 5 or 72 or the last pick."
"I'm gonna come in with my head low ready to work," he continued. "That's not going to change me. No matter where I'm drafted or who I'm drafted by, they're going to get the same person. They're going to get the guy who's going to be a competitor, who's passionate about the game. Even thought I'll be a rookie, I'm going to try to be a leader to the best of my ability and continue to work."
One of those teams that has a top pick in this year's draft, of course, is the Indianapolis Colts, who sit at No. 3-overall.
Head coach Frank Reich and general manager Chris Ballard this week announced that veteran Frank Gore, who is a free agent-to-be heading into this offseason, will not likely be brought back for a fourth season with the team in 2018 as the Colts look to get younger at the position.
That, in turn, creates an opening at the top of the depth chart at running back in Indy, where the team already has a number of internal candidates — Marlon Mack, Robert Turbin, Matt Jones and Josh Ferguson — but could certainly be in the market for the best running back in the draft, too.
If he fell to No. 3, how would Barkley react to playing in Indianapolis?
"I feel that would be a good fit, too," he said, after already fielding several other questions about hypothetical landing spots. "Andrew Luck is a great quarterback. Obviously he didn't play last year. But if you look at his success before that, it speaks for itself. Any team that wants to draft me, I would love to be there."
Ballard, of course, wasn't going to tip his hand this week when asked about Barkley. The Colts find themselves in a prime position with a top pick that could be used on a game changer on offense or defense, as well as trade bait with a team willing to part ways with several early-round picks for the opportunity to move into the Top-3.
But Ballard, in his own way, made it apparent that Barkley certainly has his attention.
"Good player," Ballard said. "I mean we're all watching the same TV. I mean the guy's a good player. He's a good player."