Friday saw the special teamers, offensive linemen and running backs take part in testing at the NFL Scouting Combine. Below are observations from the day's events. If you're looking for Thursday's breakdown, check out Christopher Crawford's recap here. Without further adieu, Friday's observations.
Tristan Wirfs dominates in historic fashion
Was that Wirfs out there or Noah Fant? The Iowa lineman was absolutely absurd in his testing work on Friday. Even as the first OL group was running its collective first set of 40-yard dashes, word began to boom across the world that Wirfs had logged a vertical jump of 36.5 inches. For context, that leap was better than the ones put forth on Thursday by every tight end except Cole Kmet, Stephen Sullivan and Charlie Taumoepeau (the former two matched the mark). Also two guys named CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy. Oh, and Wirfs measured in at 6-foot-5, 320 pounds. And we’re just getting started.
Wirfs also crushed a 10-foot-1 broad jump -- tying a combine record for an offensive lineman -- setting the stage for a 40-yard dash of 4.85 seconds. Simply incredible. For those who don’t watch Iowa football, it was quite the coming out party. Already held in high esteem in the evaluating community coming into the combine, his stock figures to soar after this performance.
Mekhi Becton makes Godzilla flee with monster sprint
While Wirfs was busy leaping all over the place, the NFL Network crew was largely raving about Louisville’s Mekhi Becton, who ran the 40-yard dash in 5.10 seconds at 364 pounds. The run was the 13th-best by a lineman in Indianapolis, coming from the biggest player at the combine. Unfortunately, Becton began to feel tightness in his leg after he completed his runs and was shut down for the rest of the day. We figure to see him back out there for Louisville’s pro day, should he be ready to take part.
Two LSU linemen come up injured early in testing
We are happy that RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire tested out without issue on Friday night, because LSU was hit with all kinds of bad luck early in the day. First it was C Lloyd Cushenberry, pulling up tight with a right hamstring injury during his second run through the 40-yard dash. Then it was G Damien Lewis, who came away injured on one of on-field drills. Which, no surprise, the NFL is putting 300-pound kids through unnatural testing. Lloyd Cushenberry isn’t going to be running a 40 yards unopposed in the NFL unless it’s to celebrate a touchdown. Frankly, we’re surprised there aren’t more injuries, and more serious ones.
Punters are people too we keep telling you this
Counting down the minutes until we can purchase a Michael Turk jersey. Arizona State punter Turk followed up 25 (lol) bench press reps from Thursday with a 40-yard dash of 4.79 seconds, the third-best mark for a special-teams player on Friday. And barely faster than Iowa superman Tristan Wirfs! We’re in on Turk as a late-round pick. Florida’s Tommy Townsend (4.75 seconds) and Bucknell’s Alex Pechin (4.69 seconds). Pechin, by the way, averaged 47.3 yards per punt in 2019. And dude is smart -- he interned at a gene therapy company. He’ll be alright if the NFL thing doesn’t pan out. Thus concludes are special-teams check-in.
Jonathan Taylor takes fastest 40-yard dash for running backs
Taylor was the lone back to crack 4.40 seconds in the 40-yard dash on Friday, ripping through the run in 4.39 seconds and reminded us why he made Bruce Feldman’s Freaks List last summer. More importantly for Taylor -- as the adage goes, we knew he was fast; don’t double credit him when he proves it -- the Wisconsin standout turned in a sharp overall body of work in the pass-catching drills. Taylor caught 26 passes in 2019 (he had combined for 16 in his first two seasons in Madison) and it’s pretty clear that he is making a concerted effort to improve in that aspect of his game. Taylor might not ever be a plus-receiver, but it’s not fair to call him a bad receiver at this point. He doesn’t take anything off the table, there.
AJ Dillon posts runs, jumps with eerie similarity to Derrick Henry
Dillon began his 'The Outsider'-esque transformation into King Henry when he measured into the combine at 247 pounds, same as Henry out of Alabama back in the day. He followed that measurement up with straight-line marks which were, well, Henry-esque. Actually a touch better. Dillon ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds, better than Henry’s 4.54. And he led all running backs with a 41-inch vertical, a full four inches better than what Henry managed. Heck, that 41-inch vertical at 247 pounds was better than every single receiver in Indianapolis outside of Donovan Peoples-Jones, Jalen Reagor and Henry Ruggs. Even if Dillon can’t hit Henry’s peak awesomeness in the NFL, he at the very least figures to be able to find a niche as a short and goalline back.
Zack Moss stopped our hearts for a moment
Moss started out his evening in alarming fashioning, unofficially managing just 4.72 seconds on his first 40-yard dash. Speed ain’t his game, but even so, a mark that slow is very nearly disqualifying if you want to be a starting NFL back. Moss ended the night with an official 40-yard of 4.65 seconds, which, phew. Still not completely resplendent, but far, far better than what we first feared. If you’re measuring Moss by raw physical aspects, you’re not measuring him right, anyway.
Benny LeMay fails to bring the jets to 40-yard dash
Oh dear. LeMay managed just a 4.75-second run through the 40-yard dash. He excelled as a pass-catcher in on-field drills, no surprise, there, but we fear we must now rescind any references to “Benny and the Jets” moving forward. Benny and the slow cars. Yeah? Yeah? Yeah?
Mostly running backs extremely competent if not standout
Perhaps it was because there was no singular athletic test to watch for -- i.e. no Henry Ruggs, going for a record -- perhaps because it was a Friday night, but there was a lack of energy in the proceedings as compared to Thursday’s primetime open for combine testing. Friday’s go-round wrapped up almost a full 45 minutes before it was expected to, with results (at least in the 40-yard dash) essentially fine, for most everybody. There were to degrees to that of course -- as touched on above, Zack Moss came out flat, AJ Dillon and Jonathan Taylor came out on fire -- but by and large the position group ran fine. It ran fine.