Saquon Barkley absolutely dominated the NFL Scouting Combine, and looked like a potential top-overall pick. However, other transactions around the top of the draft could knock him out of the top five.
If there was a single "winner" of the combine earlier this month, it was probably Barkley. He was among the leaders in virtually every event among running backs.
Barkley was said to be "firmly in the mix" to be the No. 1 pick by the Browns after his combine performance. One unnamed NFL coach had a particularly colorful description of the lengths to which he would go to take the Penn State star.
However, the ensuing weeks have brought some interesting transactions that could harm Barkley's stock. None of them have to do with his performance at all.
The first, made by those Browns, who sit at No. 1 and 4 in the NFL Draft, actually made Barkley seem like a logical choice with one of those spots. Cleveland acquired quarterback Tyrod Taylor from the Buffalo Bills and wide receiver Jarvis Landry from the Miami Dolphins.
While Taylor may not be the long-term answer at QB for Cleveland, it means that whomever they select at the position won't need to be thrown to the wolves like DeShone Kizer was this season. Adding Barkley to that team would make the Browns a very interesting offense.
However, transactions that have occurred since muddy the waters for Barkley. The Browns signed Carlos Hyde at running back, which doesn't mean they won't take him, but make it less of a need spot.
A few days later, the quarterback-needing Jets moved up to the No. 3 spot previously occupied by the Colts. Indianapolis is sticking with Andrew Luck at quarterback, but the Jets now leapfrog the Browns' second pick.
That could force Cleveland to make a move at quarterback with the No. 1 spot. If the two New York teams at Nos. 2 and 3 take quarterbacks, the Browns could be stuck with their third pick at the position.
Bleacher Report's Mike Tanier says that these moves have caused Saquon Barkley's stock to "spiral."
Tanier now expects Barkley to fall to the No. 7 spot, depending on what the Denver Broncos (No. 5), Indianapolis Colts (No. 6), and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 7) do. Of course, further trades could complicate things further.
So Barkley will probably be drafted seventh overall, though there are doomsday scenarios that could knock him out of the top 10 (Nelson, Fitzpatrick and others are still on the board; the Bears have zero need at running back with the eighth pick, etc.). Getting drafted seventh is nothing to be ashamed of. It's halfway between Ezekiel Elliott's fourth overall selection in 2016 and Gurley's 10th in 2015. It's out of the range that gives analytics hardliners coronaries, so Barkley and the team that selects him won't be second-guessed the way they would be if he were drafted among the top five.
It's just that Barkley, pound for pound, is the best player in this draft class. He belongs in the discussion for the first overall pick. Instead, he's at the mercy of market forces that prompt teams to take extreme risks for quarterbacks and treat even athletically unique running backs like replaceable afterthoughts.
That may not be the worst thing in the world for Saquon Barkley. There is the argument that going to the better team could be worth the financial hit that comes with being a lower pick. Still, every player probably wants to be the No. 1 pick, and it stinks for Barkley that forces beyond his control could prevent that.