Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images
We have reached the time of year where the underwear Olympics is held (I hate that name just as much as you do). We could debate how much stock to put into the combine, but the answer is very mangled and – is ultimately – relative to the position. As I am writing this, the second day of the NFL Combine measurements just concluded, so don’t get upset at me if something changes. I can’t see into the future…or can I?
What I plan to do is once again put in what can be considered to be a decent performance in forecasting what I believe to be the outcomes of the Combine. Here are my predictions from last year’s combine: (and I still maintain that Kendall Sheffield would have ran the fastest 40 if it weren’t for his partially torn pectoral that prevented him from running).
My combine prop bets:— UK Draft Scout (@UKDraftScout) February 28, 2019
Player with the fastest 40 time – Kendall Sheffield
Greedy Williams 40 time – Over 4.36
Dwayne Haskins 40 time – Over 4.71
Nick Bosa bench press reps – Over 24.5
Montez Sweat 40 time – Under 4.75
N’Keal Harry 40 time – Under 4.6
I would also like to add that my source for the first bet is the Raiders Wire, and the remainder of the bets come from MyBookie. The links can be found below:
Without further floundering, here are my bets that you should put your money on because I’m too afraid (and too young) to do so myself.
Fastest 40 Time: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
If you told me before last year’s combine that Zedrick Woods would’ve ran the fastest 40 last year, I would’ve responded with “who?”. That’s what gives me the hesitancy with regards to this particular pick; but it seems so obvious that Ruggs is the fastest player at the Combine, almost too obvious. I would like to continue to dispel the notion that Ruggs is exclusively a speed player, it is disingenuous to paint him as such. He is much more of a technician than often given credit for, and his hands are more than adequate. As for his speed, well he has a legitimate chance to break John Ross’ record of 4.22. On his 81-yard touchdown against South Carolina, he reportedly reached a top speed of 24.3mph, I don’t even have anything to add to the absurdity of such speed.
Jalen Hurts 40 Time: Over 4.58
Jalen Hurts has been one of the most polarising figures in this early draft cycle. Many people have seen his improvements and extrapolated that into future development, others have been skeptical of his ability to succeed outside of the confines of Lincoln Riley’s offense. And Hurts’ rushing ability is one of the redeeming qualities that many of Hurts’ supporters are hanging their hat on. But running under a 4.58 would put Hurts into at least the 93rd percentile amongst all quarterbacks. I am not sold on Hurts’ straight line speed, instead I attribute his rushing success more so to his stature and instincts, rather than his speed. Hurts ran a 4.85 coming out of high school at 208lbs. Yesterday, he weighed in at 222lbs and it’s hard to imagine he’s gotten significantly faster throughout his time in college.
J.K. Dobbins 40 Time: Under 4.49
RB1 has long speed that goes relatively unnoticed. You notice the patience, nuance, and vision – and that appears to detract from the visibility of his speed. Dobbins is my top running back in this draft class for all of those aforementioned reasons; he doesn’t have a discernible weakness on tape, and he’s more than an adequate athlete. Dobbins has a chance to showcase his immense athleticism this week in Indy. I don’t know who set this over/under, but they have clearly neglected the fundamental necessity of research because coming out of high school Dobbins ran a 4.44 at the Opening. He tested as a 99th percentile athlete overall and demonstrated freakish athleticism in all areas. So unless you believe that Dobbins has become slower in his time at Ohio State – and his 68-yard touchdown Vs. Clemson would suggest otherwise – then this is your bet to take.
Jonathan Taylor 40 Time: Under 4.51
Speaking of absurd over/unders, this makes absolutely no sense to me. Many people see Taylor’s physical stature and they get dragged into the delusion that he is slow. It has become a notion that has grown too prevalent for a former high school and college sprinter. Yes, 227lb bruiser Jonathan Taylor is fast…very fast. He ran a 4.42 coming out of high school, so I don’t expect that time to be much different under the laser timer in Indianapolis. Anyone who has watched Taylor’s film for longer than two minutes would have likely seen him find a hole, burst through it, and a short time later he finds his way into the endzone.
Fastest 40 Time: Under 4.29
This is a very easy one to me; the aforementioned Zedrick Woods ran a 4.29 last year, and I’m sure Ruggs is faster than Woods. Ruggs said plans on breaking John Ross’ record of 4.22 which seems like an absurdly bold proclamation, but I wouldn’t put it past Ruggs to do such. As for eclipsing 4.29, it seems like a certainty Ruggs does so. Here is Ruggs’ teammate, Jerry Jeudy, blazing past Zedrick Woods in 2018, and it’s important to remember that Jeudy has said Ruggs is faster than him. Of course, play speed with pads is not a direct comparison, but it is a fair barometer in this exercise.
OH MY!— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) March 20, 2019
Whatever you think Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy's 40 time is, it's probably faster. The safety that doesn't have a chance to run with him on this play (Zedrick Woods No. 36) ran a 4.29 40 at the Combine. Jedy can fly!!! #RollTide pic.twitter.com/4BO7gL8TSP
Highest Vertical Jump: Over 43.5
I am once again putting my faith in J.K. Dobbins. His long speed is an underappreciated component of his game, but something that is almost an invisible component of his game is his alleged jumping ability. Dobbins managed to jump 43.1 inches at the opening when he was just 17 years old and 201lbs. Dobbins weighed in at only 208lbs today which makes it once again hard to believe that he hasn’t got, even minisculely more explosive. If it is not Dobbins to eclipse 43.5 inches, then Jalen Reagor or Donovan Peoples-Jones may have a chance to. Jumping 43.5 inches off the ground on Earth is no small feat, in fact only 17 people have done so since 1999, but 7 of which have come since 2016; this suggests that trainers are finding better ways to train for this particular event.
The combine is always a compelling spectacle, it is fun to laugh at the absurdity of some of the athletes at the combine. I imagine this year will be no different with the weigh-ins already providing some dose of ridiculousness (Mekhi Becton, I’m largely referring to you). If you want to put some money on my predictions, do so at your own risk. And as always – gamble responsibly.
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