Friday NFL Combine Testing Recap

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On-Field Testing Recap

On Friday we saw the offensive linemen and running backs take to the field, and just like on Thursday with the receivers/tight ends, the initial 40-yard dash times for the running backs varied distinctly from the final reported numbers. Here is a quick breakdown of the testing events from these position groups:

Bench Press

Michigan bruiser Hassan Haskins (6’2/228) only did one drill on Friday, but he made it count by tossing up 225-pounds and a position group leading 27 bench press reps. Despite just six rushers opting to flex on the bench due to the new schedule framework that requires players to do all their testing in the same day, five of those six backs hit the 20+ rep plateau. Snoop Conner finished second with 25 reps while Kevin Harris checks in at third with 21 reps. For comparison sake, in 2020 30 running backs took part in the bench press, with 11 of them hitting the 20 reps mark and former Ole Miss Rebel Scottie Phillips leading the group with 29 reps.

Senior Bowl star Zion Johnson led a group of 18 participants with 32 bench presses, with five players crossing the 30-rep mark. For Johnson, his group-leading mark solidifies his status as a top-three interior lineman. For perspective, at the last combine 53 offensive linemen took part in the bench, with Fresno State freak Netane Muti who managed to press the bar an astounding 44 times. Jamaree Salyer and Cole Strange were the runner-ups with 31 reps each in 2022, which again pales to the previous combine class where the second-best OL lifter Simon Stepaniak pumped out 37 in 2020.

40-Yard Dash

Kentucky sent three offensive linemen to the Scouting Combine from a team that averaged 200 yards per game rushing, 5.2 YPC and 32 PPG in 2021. One of those linemen, Dare Rosenthal (6’7/290), is one of the lightest OL in the class and accordingly parlayed his long frame into the fastest 40-yard dash at the position with a 4.88s. While he’s a towering 6’7, Rosenthal is a veritable waif by offensive line standards, possessing quick feet and agility, but he got bull rushed thanks to inconsistent pass sets that allowed defenders to get into his body. Just a tick down from Dare was Arizona State RT Kellen Diesch who tied with Tulsa G Chris Paul and UNI LT Trevor Penning, in posting 4.89s dash times. Ikem Ekwonu also posted a solid 4.93s 40-time that achieves the NC State big man’s goal of running under five seconds. His strides looked linear and powerful as he rumbled down the field.

Story continues

Rutgers RB Isiah Pacheco (5’10/216) and SDSU RB Pierre Strong (5’11/207) both tied for the highest mark amongst the running back group with a pair of 4.37s dashes. With Pacheco recording a 33” vertical jump and 118” broad, he’s slightly behind Strong in terms of overall athleticism, who checks in with a 36” vertical and 124” broad jump. As far as what the draftnik community thinks, Pacheco is trending as a UDFA while Strong is currently carrying fifth round draft equity according to the NFL Mock Draft Database.

Iowa State RB Breece Hall threw up an astounding 4.39s 40-yard dash while tipping the scales at (5’11/217) and may have punched his ticket as the first RB off the board. Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker III actually ran a little faster than Hall by hitting 4.38s on the MPH gun, though he was expected to post a sub-4.5 while Hall was very much questionable to do so. Hall is my personal RB1 over Walker III and Spiller.

As far as rushers who hurt themselves with poor 40 times, Notre Dame RB Kyren Williams posted the lowest 40-yard dash in the entire position with a 4.65s run that left a multitude of Williams’ pre-draft truthers in dire straits. I would also assert that Tyler Allgeier (5’11/224) took a little shine off his draft stock with a sluggish 4.60 40 yard dash.

Vertical Jump

As if putting up a sub-4.4 wasn’t impressive enough, Breece Hall went out and put up the highest vertical at the RB position with a 40” leap that beat out second place finisher Kevin Harris from South Carolina by an inch and a half. Arizona State multi-purpose playmaker Rachaad White is the third and last running back to hit the 38” jump plateau. You can throw in Iowa RB Tyler Goodson and his 36.5” leap as well, as his 4.42 40-yard dash shows explosive potential when paired with his vert and broad jump (123”) marks.

Conversely, Oregon RB CJ Verdell tied Ole Miss RB Snoop Conner for the worst jumps at the position with 29.5”. It at least makes sense for Conner to be gravity bound, as he sports a 5’10/222 frame while Verdell is just 5’10/194, which makes his sub-30” mark especially concerning.

Somehow UCLA G Sean Rhyan managed to propel his massive 6’5/321 body 33.5” in the air, verifying that he has above average lower body power. Wake Forest C Zach Tom was so close to posting the top mark with a 33” vert, while Arizona State OT Kellen Diesch added to his athletic bonafides with a 32.5 jump. Diesch weighs just a shade over 300-pounds at 6’7 and is destined for right tackle work in the league. It should also be noted that Senior Bowl warrior G Zion Johnson cleared 32” while also cranking 32 bench reps out. Zion deftly eliminated any questions about his ability to handle the jump to the NFL.

Broad Jump

UT-Chattanooga G Cole Strange (6’5/307) broad jumped 120” to lead all offensive linemen in that metric. He also whipped out 31 bench reps with a 5.03 40-yard dash, as the big guard has plenty of power to fend off bull rushes on his tape, but can have problems with speedy interior defensive linemen. His athletic profile is promising if he can work on his lateral movement. Wake Forest center Zach Tom (6’4/304) is trying to make some noise with a solid 118” broad jump in addition to his 33” vertical. Austrian strongman Bernhard Raimann fell below Tom by just one inch in the broad jump, but his 30 bench reps mark was solid and you could do a lot worse than a 30.5” leap. He could be a multi-year starter at OT despite needing a little more weight to fend off the freakish NFL edge defenders.

The running backs saw two players tie for the top broad jump of 128”, scat-back Ole Miss RB Jerrion Ealy and workout phenom RB Zamir White. Though White didn’t bench, he still posted a 4.4 40-yard dash at 6’0/214 in addition to his impressive 128” broad. His 33.5” vertical was middle of the pack for this class, but the UGA ball carrier has boosted his draft stock through the testing process by several magnitudes despite having torn both of his ACLs within a year of each other. Kevin Harris (5’10/221) makes his second appearance in this column, as the former Gamecock finished with the second highest vertical jump as well. Harris led the SEC in rushing in 2020, but his production slipped massively this year due to injuries and a committee approach employed by HC Shan Beamer. He also didn’t run the 40-yard dash, so we will have to wait until his pro day to answer that question


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