The biggest story of day four at the Combine was easily Calvin Johnson. The Georgia Tech wide receiver has been the top prospect at his position for some time and he’s already the top prospect on many boards, but on Sunday he raised eyebrows even more. Johnson was not scheduled to run the 40-yard dash, but once he got on the field, he couldn’t resist. He had to borrow quarterback James Pickney’s shoes, but the largest receiver at the Combine still proceeded to run an very strong time of 4.35.
Aside from Johnson, there were plenty more developments.
The quarterback position was not featured during Combine coverage, especially since the top two prospects, Jamarcus Russell and Brady Quinn, were absent from drills, but a there are a few items of note:
Drew Stanton may have been the most impressive of the quarterbacks participating on Sunday. He made strong throws during drills and posted fastest reported 40 time with a 4.73. The Michigan State standout may have helped his case for being the third quarterback off the board.
Another strong arm was that of Boise State’s Jared Zabransky. He threw a nice deep ball with accuracy, and he has enough height and strength to be taken late on day one or early on day two.
Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith threw some nice passes, but overall, he wasn’t impressive. His over-the-shoulder passes weren’t accurate enough, and the Ohio State Buckeyes’ day was average overall.
Chris Leak of Florida had a better day than Smith, but wasn’t overly impressive, and his small stature will make it difficult for him to move up much come draft day.
Washington’s Isaiah Stanback didn’t run due to injury—not a significant factor for his position—but he didn’t make a lot of good throws. He looked below average during drills, and probably does not have the package to be a quality NFL quarterback. A position move is likely in his future.
Toby Korrodi out of Central Missouri State was clocked with the fastest ball speed at 63 miles per hour.
Running Back Notes
There’s little surprise that Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson had a strong Combine showing, but his numbers during drills may have some teams re-thinking their desire for a running back. He may not drop past the top three, and it will be difficult for any team to pass him up. He measured in at 6’2” and 218 pounds on Saturday, and then posted a 10’7” broad jump and a 38.5’ vertical jump. “Explosive” is one word to describe those totals, and when it came time to run his 40, Peterson exploded for a 4.38, the second fastest time among his group. He followed that up with a 4.43, showing that he has above average speed and is highly regarded for a reason.
Marshawn Lynch had a broad jump of 10’5”, a vertical of 35.5”, and then ran a 4.52 in his first 40-yard dash attempt. Lynch’s Combine performance isn’t likely to hurt him much, by any means, but he wasn’t able to truly impress during drills. He did follow up his first 40-yard dash attempt with a second total of 4.49, showing that he surely has enough speed to be a quality NFL back.
The back that improved his stock the most may have been Rutgers’
Brian Leonard. He started for three seasons in college until becoming the second option during his senior season, but he still showed flashes of talent when he had an opportunity to touch the ball. He came to the Combine more than ten pounds lighter than his playing weight, suggesting that he wants to shed the fullback label. He posted a 34.5” vertical jump, and then ran a 4.49 40-yard dash, one of the faster running back times. Leonard is making a case for himself as a legitimate halfback.
Another back who will garner more interest based on his Combine is Chris Henry out of Arizona. Henry played some fullback in college and measured in at slightly over 6’ feet tall and 228 pounds on Saturday, and he had to be considered a bruising back with occasional chances at best. Then, Henry ran the fastest time of the running backs with a 4.33 total. With his size and apparent speed—a 4.40 second attempt showed it was no fluke—he will likely rise on several boards.
Notre Dame’s Darius Walker posted the best vertical jump among all players on the day at 40.5” and expectations for his 40-yard dash were high. However, Walker disappointed with a 4.57 and then a 4.56, and being slightly undersized, Walker’s speed was crucial to his stock.
The most disappointing player on the day had to be Minnesota’s Gary Russell. The former Gopher left the team before the 2006 season because of academic reasons, so there were already major questions surrounding potential team interest on draft day. Things didn’t go well for him on Saturday, when he completed just 9 reps at 225 pounds and weighed in at 229 pounds, nearly fifteen pounds heavier than his ideal playing weight. Sunday wasn’t any better. He ran a sluggish 4.84 in the 40-yard dash and followed it up with a 4.80 second attempt. Russell is a very late pick—at best.
Louisville’s Michael Bush, Penn State’s Tony Hunt, and Northern Illinois’ Garrett Wolfe all opted out of running the 40-yard dash, instead saving their effort for their pro-days.
More Running Back 40-yard dash times.
Wide Receiver Notes
While Calvin Johnson stole the show and overshadowed the rest of the group, there were some quality performances from this group:
Tennessee’s Robert Meachem may have helped his stock the most out of the receiver group. He ran a 4.36 and then a 4.38 in his two 40-yard dash attempts, an impressive pair of times, and also looked impressive during drills. He made excellent adjustments to the ball during over-the-shoulder drills, running routes smoothly and showing good hands. He also had a strong “gauntlet” effort, making catches with his hands and running crisply.
Another impressive day was had by Anthony Gonzalez from Ohio State. Gonzalez had a vertical jump of 38”, the second highest total among receivers, and then scored a 40-yard dash time 4.44. He didn’t quit there, though, adding a quality shuttle score of 4.08 (a much better than average total) and looking good overall during drills.
The highlight of the day may have come from D'Juan Woods from Oklahoma State. Woods made a fantastic one-handed grab during one drill that worth seeing again. He not only displayed great hands over the course of drills, he also ran good-looking routes. He definitely had one of the stronger performances on Sunday.
Steve Smith also helped his case as a top available receiver. Not only did the USC standout demonstrate his great pass-catching ability throughout drills, he answered the critics who questioned his speed. With a 4.44 and a 4.37 on his 40 attempts, he could skip up into the pack of top receivers after Johnson.
Sidney Rice didn’t impress with a 4.53 time in the 40, but he performed well during other drills, adjusting well to passes and showing that he has good hands. Interest in Rice won’t change much based on the Combine.
LSU receiver Dwayne Bowe measured in at just over 6’2” on Saturday, weighing 221 pounds. On Sunday, he tallied a broad jump of 10’5” and ran a 4.51 40-yard dash. He wasn’t impressive on the day, but he did nothing to lower potential interest.
Johnnie Lee Higgins, the UTEP receiver who suggested that he wanted to run a 40-yard dash in the 4.1s, ended up finishing with a time of 4.48, obviously well below his high expectations. Higgins would have been better off staying silent on the issue, as his performance can now only be considered a letdown.
Kansas State’s Yamon Figurs ran the best 40 time on the day, with a 4.30. He also ran a 4.21 shuttle. He may find a home on special teams somewhere.
Jason Hill, a Washington State product, ran the second fastest 40 of the group with a 4.32. He also had a nice 37” vertical jump.
Illinois State’s Laurent Robinson ran the third fastest 40 at 4.33, but followed it up with a 4.51.
Dwayne Jarrett of USC, Ted Ginn Jr. of Ohio State, and Rhema McKnight of Notre Dame all chose not to participate in the 40-yard dash, and McKnight was the only player of the trio to participate in other drills, looking average on the day.
More Wide Receiver 40-yard dash times.
More Combine News
NFL Combine Blog | Day One | Day Two | Day Three