Fastest Players at 2019 NFL Combine (Fantasy Football)
No event at the NFL Combine holds as much excitement as the 40-yard dash. Maybe it goes back to the school-yard races, this idea of freedom found in out-running everyone else. Or maybe it’s more than that — perhaps something divine? The late Raiders owner, Al Davis, believed that was the case. “You can’t teach speed,” Davis said. “Everything else in the game can be taught, but speed is a gift from God.”
Regardless of differing draft-day philosophies, there’s something to that idea. GMs still salivate over the prospects with raw bodies of pure athleticism whom teams can mold into the player they desire. That’s why we care about 40 times: potential. The prospects below have all demonstrated that potential after raising eyebrows as the fastest, at their respective position, in this draft class.
Trace McSorley (Penn State): 4.57
With Kyler Murray bulking up and deciding against running the 40, the door was open for another QB to run the best time. Trace McSorley grabbed that honor with a 4.57 time, the fifth fastest in the past five years at the position. With such a fast time, teams have actually begun seeing McSorley as a potential prospect at other positions. McSorley, who was recruited by many colleges to play safety, declined a request to work out as a DB in Indy. However, scouts still feel he may have Julian Edelman-like potential elsewhere on the field. McSorley is currently projected as a late Day Three player.
Tyree Jackson (Buffalo): 4.59
At 6’7″ and 249 lbs, Tyree Jackson has earned some buzz as a strong pocket presence with a very strong arm. Those measurables and his arm talent make this 40 time so much more interesting. Guys with that frame just don’t often have the athleticism that Jackson does. His stock has risen considerably since the start of his junior season, and he currently looks like a project QB who could hear his name called at the end of the third or into the mid-late rounds.
Easton Stick (North Dakota State): 4.62
Coming from the FCS, Easton Stick looks to make the same jump that Carson Wentz and Joe Flacco made before him. Stick comes out of a scheme that utilized his athleticism in the forms of bootlegs and RPOs throughout his college tenure, but many scouts feel that he may not possess enough speed to be a true dual-threat at the next level. Stick’s 40-time may help ease some of those concerns, but he still has some work to do to climb big boards before April.
Nick Fitzgerald (Mississippi State): 4.64
As was the case with McSorley, Nick Fitzgerald also drew some interest from teams who wanted him to work out at a different position (TE). With the QB position continuing to shift as more athletic players come from the college ranks, it’s not a surprise to see a guy with Fitzgerald’s size and athleticism asked to shift elsewhere on the field. However, it’s yet to be seen if Fitzgerald is willing to attempt the transition.
Justice Hill (Oklahoma State): 4.40
Few players raised their stock like Justice Hill did in Indy this past weekend. The 40-yard dash was just one of the events in which Hill topped his peers, and his athleticism in space and the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield will undoubtedly have coaches and GMs salivating in April. Despite the positives, some scouts believe his size may hold back his ceiling. Hill is currently projected to go in the middle rounds, but his stock is rising.
Ryquell Armstead (Temple): 4.45
Former Temple RB, Ryquell Armstead has faced doubts throughout his football journey. He turned some heads this week in Indianapolis, where he showcased his burst and athleticism with a 4.45 40 time. Although Armstead is not currently one of the top RB names, his ability to battle for a roster spot and make the most of opportunities such as this will certainly help his cause.
Jordan Scarlett (Florida): 4.47
Coming out of Florida, Jordan Scarlett has had his fair share of off-the-field issues, but he had a refreshing pop while doing his Combine drills this weekend. Returning to the field, Scarlett did his best to boost his stock by recording the third-fastest 40 time. He is currently a Day Three prospect.
Mike Weber (Ohio Stae): 4.47
There was a moment on Friday when it looked like Mike Weber may have put up the combine’s fastest 40 time, as his unofficial speed clocked in below 4.40. However, after the official time was announced, there was still plenty to love from Weber’s combine performance. While his stock was certainly buoyed by a good showing, most consider Weber to still be a special teams/depth piece moving into the NFL.
Parris Campbell (Ohio State): 4.31
Raise your hand if you’re shocked that Parris Campbell has been confirmed as fast. OK, so nobody then? Campbell earned his involvement in the Ohio State WR rotation as an explosive weapon who can take the top off of defenses, and he’ll look to do the same at the next level. Having the fastest time for a WR is absolutely the way to help cement that reputation moving forward. Campbell is drawing some buzz and looks like a potential second or third-round option this year.
Andy Isabella (UMass): 4.31
While Campbell’s 40 time was seen from a mile away, Andy Isabella’s came out of nowhere and demanded attention from NFL scouts and decision makers. Isabella’s role is projected as a slot receiver with shiftiness and solid hands. Comps to Edelman and Wes Welker were piling up prior to last weekend, but he now he has a real opportunity to make a name for himself and display the skills that he can develop, uniquely, as he transitions into the league.
Mecole Hardman (Georgia): 4.33
Georgia WRs were a tale of two combines this weekend, as Mecole Hardman lit up the drills in Indy while Riley Ridley underwhelmed with his testing. Hardman and his third-fastest WR time in the 40-yard dash will start to challenge for the higher slotting of the two prospects in April’s draft. His speed undoubtedly has scouts intrigued.
D.K. Metcalf (Ole Miss): 4.33
He’s the man of our memes. D.K. Metcalf has exploded onto the scene this spring, and it all started with one post-workout picture. The most recent boost in his stock came from a staggering 4.33 to go along with his 6’3″, 228-lb frame. He’s considered one of the hottest offensive commodities in the draft and could potentially hear his name called quite early.
Noah Fant (Iowa): 4.50
We’ve been hearing throughout the whole draft process of how deep the TE group is in this year’s draft class, and Noah Fant has been toward the top since the beginning. Fant’s athleticism has been his calling card as he continues to elicit comps to Evan Engram and other receiving TEs. With a 40 time in between that of Engram and Jimmy Graham, it’s easy to see why he’s projected as a first-round TE.
Erik McCoy (Texas A&M): 4.89
For Erik McCoy, versatility has been an important part of his draft profile. The offensive lineman is expected to remain at either C or G at the next level, but the ability to move around on the line combined with his athleticism is sure to intrigue a few teams. Currently, he’s continuing to creep up into the second round and could climb higher if testing and interviews go his way.
Montez Sweat (EDGE – Mississippi State): 4.41
The Mississippi State edge rusher set a combine record for defensive linemen that goes back to 2003. Projected as a first-round pick, Montez Sweat’s draft stock was already fairly high. However, now Sweat could see himself drafted as one of the top-three edge rushers off the board. His athletic profile has defensive coordinators licking their chops and offensive coordinators losing sleep.
Devin White (LB – LSU): 4.42
This spot is unique for Devin White, as he was the only consensus number one at his position to also finish with the best 40 time of his position group. White checked all the boxes before going into the combine, and he should be a first-round lock after maintaining momentum at the showcase.
Jamel Dean (CB – Auburn): 4.30
SEC speed continues to dominate as Jamel Dean put up a blistering 4.30 time. Dean was at one time an injury-plagued CB at Ohio State, but he moved on and regained the athleticism to put himself in contention for a good draft slot this April. Only one other player bested his time in the entire combine.
Zedrick Woods (S – Ole Miss): 4.29
Zedrick Woods clocked the combine’s fastest time at 4.29. His tenure at Ole Miss didn’t do much to establish a strong resume for the NFL, but with the claim of fastest player in the draft, Woods will likely find a suitor in a middle or late round this April.
Looking forward to rookie drafts and analyzing players, it’s important not to place too high of an importance on any one drill at the NFL Combine. However, with the limited quantifiable information available, conclusions have to be drawn from somewhere. Over the next few weeks, as workouts are completed at pro days (and added to the pool of data we have to pull from), make sure to analyze the data again and combine it with composite rankings of athletic profiles as they’re completed. Keep in mind the importance of landing spot, as it will play a dramatic role in each player’s 2019 relevance.