First impressions matter. And at the NFL Scouting Combine last week, future professional football players got to essentially audition for their next gridiron roles, with some players exceeding expectations, and others delivering subpar efforts that should see their names slip down the board at the upcoming NFL draft, to be held on April 26.

Shaquem Griffin
One-hand wonder Shaquem Griffin, linebacker from the University of Central Florida, wowed NFL personnel at the NFL Scouting Combine last week, improving his draft prospects. (Image: Getty)

With draft position in the balance, here are some of the standouts who are now likely to go earlier than expected, as well as those who showed up but could pay a price for not  delivering at the 2018 combine, held Feb. 27-Mar. 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.   

Winners

Saquon Barkley

Barkley is already considered a top-5 pick in the draft, and the Penn State running back upped his stock considerably. The one-time favorite to win the Heisman Trophy posted solid numbers in the 40-yard dash and had 29 reps in the 225-pound bench press. Now there are whispers he could be the No.1 pick.

Shaquem Griffin

Griffin was the other story at the combine that had everyone talking. The linebacker from University of Central Florida is missing his left hand because of a rare congenital condition that causes excruciating pain. He put to rest any doubts he wasn’t an NFL player by posting the fastest time in the 40 of any linebacker since 2006. He also had 20 reps in the bench press with one hand. According to people at the event he went from a late-round pick to a late third, early fourth rounder.

Josh Allen

The Wyoming quarterback entered the week with questions about his accuracy. He seemed to answer them during the throwing drills. He also did well in the other areas. Many weren’t sure if he should be included with other elite signal callers, but Allen proved that he belongs.

Brian O’Neill

The Pitt offensive lineman was slated as a third-round pick, but moved up the board with the fastest time of all offensive linemen in the 40. He also set the mark for his position in the three-cone drill at 7.14 seconds. He now could be grabbed in the second round.

Lamar Jackson

Some NFL brass wanted the Louisville quarterback to switch to wide receiver, but he was having none of it. He spent his time showing that he was indeed a professional quarterback and silenced a lot of doubters.

Losers

Sam Darnold

The USC QB left school early to make himself available for the draft but then declined to participate in any throwing drills. That didn’t go over well with scouts who have questioned his ability and commitment. He was rumored to be the first pick when he declared for the NFL, but now might slide down a bit.

Josh Rosen

Rosen was another California signal caller who left scouts questioning whether his stock might be overvalued. The UCLA alum had so-so numbers in the athletic categories, but really underwhelmed spectators when he went through the passing drills. He had his skeptics before, but Allen might just have replaced him as the second QB picked.

Orlando Brown

Many are calling his performance the worst in combine history. A slow 40, 14 bench reps and other disastrous drills made some question his draft position. He was a late-first rounder coming into the week and ended the combine possibly slipping all the way to the third or fourth round.

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