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Speed Highlights Historic Day At Combine


INDIANAPOLIS -- The second day of on-field performances at the NFL Scouting Combine got a lot faster, with record-breaking speed from wide receiver John Ross as well as the fastest class of tight ends to ever attend the event. The quarterbacks also took the field at Lucas Oil Stadium to throw for NFL teams. Here are the players who improved their draft stock the most with Saturday's workout.

TE Evan Engram: Engram turned in a "wow" performance and really improved his draft stock. His time in the 40-yard dash clocked in the very low 4.4s, outstanding for a 234-pound athlete. His vertical jump of 36 inches was also one of the best from the tight ends. Engram looked outstanding during pass-catching drills, running good routes and snatching passes away from his frame.

WR Chris Godwin: Godwin surpassed every expectation scouts had of him. He was faster then expected, timing in the low 4.4s in the 40, produced 19 reps on the bench press, and ran a very swift four seconds flat in the short shuttle. He then looked terrific during the pass-catching workout, running crisp routes and catching everything thrown in his direction. I graded Godwin as a potential third-round choice entering the Combine, but he'll now move up into the draft's initial 60 selections.

WR Zay Jones: One of the stars from the Senior Bowl, Jones kept up the positive momentum in his pre-draft process Saturday. His time of 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash was better than expected, and his marks of 11'2" in the broad jump, 4.01 seconds in the short shuttle, and 11.17 seconds in the long shuttle ranked in the top five of the receiver group. The 6-2, 201-pound Jones ran sharp routes during position drills and looks headed for the second round.

TE Bucky Hodges: The overgrown college receiver looked every bit an NFL tight end. He timed 4.58 seconds in the 40 after tipping the scales at 257 pounds, touched 39 inches in the vertical jump, and then reached 11'2" in the broad jump, a Combine record for tight ends. He looked smooth and natural during pass-catching drills and has assured himself a spot in the second round.

QB Deshaun Watson: Watson looked the best of any quarterback on the turf of Lucas Oil Stadium. He was accurate with his short passes and threw a number of deep outs that were right on target. His timing with brand new receivers was impressive. Watson displayed solid ball speed on the long throws, quelling the criticism of those who claimed he did not have an NFL arm.

WR Robert Davis: Davis was one of the most impressive receivers during Saturday's workout. He was stamped as a reliable, big-bodied pass catcher, but the athleticism Davis displayed caught NFL teams by surprise. Measuring just under 6-3 and 219 pounds, his marks included 4.43 seconds in the 40, 41 inches in the vertical jump, 11'4" in the broad jump, and 19 reps on the bench press. His marks in the vertical and broad jump, as well as the bench press, were some of the best of the day from the receiver group.

WR Amara Darboh: Darboh's testing numbers were solid, not spectacular, and included a 40 time under 4.45 seconds, a broad jump of 10'4" as well as 18 reps on the bench press. He stood out during pass-catching drills, as Darboh looked much better running routes at the Combine than he did during the Senior Bowl. He also caught the ball cleanly and made a number of difficult receptions.

WR Kenny Golladay: Entering the Combine, Golladay was stamped as a slow possession receiver by scouts. They are now rethinking that opinion. He was a tenth faster in the 40 than expected (4.5 seconds), reached 10 feet even in the broad jump, and looked flawless during position drills. Golladay has secured himself as a late-round choice.

Note: I need to mention the 40 run by John Ross in a time of 4.22 seconds to set a new Combine record. Several teams had him clocked as low as 4.19 seconds. The bottom line was Ross was fast. During his one and only run of the 40, Ross strained a leg muscle and his day was done. He is having surgery to repair a torn labrum in 10 days.

- Tony Pauline


We're taking you through each day of the NFL Combine to showcase some of the standout performances. Take a look at some of the players you should keep an eye on...

*Inside The Numbers: Wide Receiver

1. It was no secret that John Ross would run fast (he was our Workout Warrior in our preview piece), but the final numbers are sure impressive. An unofficial time of 4.22 seconds in the 40-yard dash held up, breaking Chris Johnson's former Combine record of 4.24 seconds. Ross jumped out of the gym as well with an 11'1" leap in the broad jump.

2. The other 40-yard dash that left people in amazement was that of wide receiver Curtis Samuel. The Ohio State product ran an unofficial 4.31 on the track, putting him above the 90th percentile mark of receivers drafted since 2012.

3. I mentioned Ross' broad jump number, but there were some other really, really impressive marks from the receivers in this test. Robert Davis, as Tony Pauline mentioned above, had one of the best overall workouts, especially when you factor his size. He posted a jump of 11'4" which is a number bested by just two receivers drafted in the last five years (Justin Hunter and Chris Conley). Other great numbers came from Malachi Dupre (11'3"), Zay Jones (11'1"), Speedy Noil (11'1"), Taywan Taylor (11'), Jehu Chesson (11'), Louisiana Tech's Carlos Henderson (10'11"), and Louisville's Jamari Staples (10'10"). That's a long list, and you may think that doesn't make any of them special, but you'd be wrong. All of those numbers finish above the 90th percentile of all receivers selected in the last five drafts. That's 150 broad jumps!

4. There were some very impressive numbers in the shuttle run as well. In my preview piece, the average receiver short shuttle time was 4.21 seconds. The mark needed to reach the 90th percentile was 4.03 seconds. Four players hit that mark, including Chris Godwin (4.00 seconds, at 209 pounds no less), Ryan Switzer (4.00), Zay Jones (4.01), and Trent Taylor (4.01). Cooper Kupp wasn't far behind that mark (4.08), which he ran at 204 pounds, which is impressive. Kupp's going to get dinged for his slow 40 times and very poor jumps, but he put his quickness on display in the shuttle run.

5. Juju Smith-Schuster measured in with 10.5-inch hands, the biggest at his position. It's the same number turned in by 2016 rookie standouts Michael Thomas (New Orleans Saints) and Malcolm Mitchell (New England Patriots). Only one player (DeAndre Smelter) has been drafted with larger hands at the receiver position since 2012.

- Fran Duffy

Inside The Numbers: Tight End

1. This was an absolutely ridiculous group of athletes at the tight end position. You could argue it's the best we've ever seen. The freakiest overall workout was turned in by Bucky Hodges, as Tony highlighted above with a time of 4.58 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 11'2" in the broad jump, and 37.5 inches in the vertical leap are all in the 98th percentile or above when compared to tight ends in the last five years. He did it at 257 pounds. He was listed at 245 pounds this season for Virginia Tech.

2. Hodges' 4.58 in the 40 was crazy fast, but how about two players from the SEC? Evan Engram ran the fastest 40-yard dash of any tight end drafted since 2012 (4.42), and the third fastest since 2003! O.J. Howard's 4.51 40, at 251 pounds, is simply special. How special, you ask? The SEC Network showed us.

3. We didn't even get to the one of the other special athletes at the position yet with New Jersey native David Njoku. At 246 pounds, the Miami junior jumped 11'1" in the broad, just one inch short of Hodges, and leaped 37.5 inches in the vert, tying Hodges for the best mark of the day by a tight end. Both marks ranked in the 95th percentile or above for tight ends drafted since 2012.

4. Njoku's jumps were amazing to see, there's no question about that, but when you factor a prospect's weight into the equation, you see just how remarkable Adam Shaheen's numbers were in the broad (10'1" which is a good number for any tight end) and vertical jump (32.5 inches, a modest number). When you include the fact that he weighs 278 pounds, heavier than any tight end taken in the last five drafts, you get a sense of Shaheen's explosive power. When the SPARQ numbers and other athletic testing formulas come out, I suspect Shaheen will be near the top of the list after Saturday's performance.

5. Any other year, George Kittle would've stolen headlines. But ho hum, the senior went out and ran a 4.53 in the 40, and posted a broad jump of 11' at 247 pounds. Both of those test scores are in at least the 90th percentile of tight ends taken since 2012. The same can be said for Jonnu Smith's jumps (10'7" broad jump and 38-inch vertical). The moral of this story? These tight ends are ridiculously athletic.

- Fran Duffy **

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