Predicting the SEC's 2017 NFL Combine freaks
The 2016 NFL Combine has come and gone, and we’re still marveling over some of the outstanding performances we saw in Indianapolis last week.
According to NFL.com, Georgia’s Keith Marshall had the top 40-yard dash time of 4.31, and the 4.33 run by Auburn’s Jonathan Jones was third overall. Jones’ Tigers teammate Ricardo Louis ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash and used his 6-2, 212-pound frame to pull off a broad jump of 11-feet, good for fourth overall.
Alabama was equally proud of Derrick Henry’s performance.
— Crimson Tide FB (@CrimsonTide_FB) March 1, 2016
Those performances and others are examples of how physically impressive many of college football’s top talents have become. As such, let’s fast-forward 12 months and try to determine which SEC stars might blow us away at the 2017 Combine.
We came up with three guys who should leave us all in awe:
Leonard Fournette — 40-yard dash
The SEC’s top returning running back in 2016, Fournette is a candidate to dazzle scouts at next year’s Combine. In October, Bleacher Report tweeted a video of the LSU star running 40 yards in 3.97 seconds during an 87-yard touchdown scamper against South Carolina.
Obviously he covered those 40 yards from a running start, which he can’t do at the Combine. But speed is speed.
According to The Shreveport Times, Fournette runs an actual 40 in 4.35 seconds. That time would have tied Purdue’s Anthony Brown and finished behind Georgia’s Marshall and Auburn’s Jones at this year’s Combine. Not too shabby for a 230-pound running back.
What we want to see is Fournette race teammate Travin Dural, whom LSU notes “is one of the fastest players on the team with a sub-4.4 40-yard dash.”
D.J. Jones — Bench press
There are definite reasons NFL.com named the 6-foot, 324-pound Ole Miss defensive tackle the 14th-strongest player in college football last year.
According to the website, Jones bench presses 440 pounds, squats 650 and has a clean max of 330. In his first season in Oxford, Jones was a solid contributor finishing with 40 tackles — including 5.5 for loss — and 4 sacks in 13 games.
“That’s one athletic dude,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze told The Clarion-Ledger last year. “He’s very, very quick twitched. He’ll help us get better.”
Oft-injured Auburn defensive end Carl Lawson deserves honorable mention in this category especially since the 6-2, 257-pounder can bench press 450 pounds, according to foxsports.com. We can only imagine what Lawson could do if only he could stay healthy, but that is very a big if.
Myles Garrett — Vertical leap
The SEC’s leader in sacks (12.5) and tackles for loss (19.5) in 2015 is one incredible athlete.
According to NFL.com, the 6-5, 262-pounder had a 40-inch vertical jump and was also clocked in the high 4.4s in the 40 last year.
A 40-inch vertical jump at this year’s Combine would have left Garrett in an eighth-place tie, just ahead of Georgia outside linebacker Leonard Floyd (39.5 inches).
The scary thing is that Garrett outweighs everybody who would have finished ahead of him. So Garrett is not only the SEC’s leading pass rusher, he might be its most freakish athlete, and we mean that in the most flattering of ways.
Of course, you just needed to see one play from last season to realize that.
— Grant Sinning (@grantsinning) December 29, 2015