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NFL Combine 2013: Predicting The 20 Fastest 40 Times

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Predicting The 20 Fastest 40 Times

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Speed kills in the NFL. It is the most talked about and most desired commodity at the NFL combine. It is the single biggest factor on the rise and fall of draft stock between the end of the college season and draft day. 40 yards in a straight line determines the future of hundreds of young men. It’s easier than we think; those that run fast are rewarded and those that run slow become an afterthought.

Every year leading up to the draft we are witness to several players that become extremely relevant in discussions simply because they perform well on the 40-yard-dash.

We must take this assessment seriously but also keep it in perspective. Rarely is a player’s success on a football field determined by his ability to sprint 40 yards. It’s important to weight speed in addition to important factors such as size, strength, awareness and catching among other things.

There are arguments that speed may be an epiphany and contradictory arguments that call speed an overrated service.

The one thing that is hard to argue with is results. Each season there are players that turn heads with their speed and then make a direct ascension up draft boards.

Last season the top beneficiaries from elite 40 times were Stephen Hill, Stephon Gilmore, A.J. Jenkins, Janoris Jenkins, David Wilson and Robert Griffin III.

The 2011 draft class was heavily influenced by speed exhibitions as well. Julio Jones, Patrick Peterson, DeMarco Murray, Torrey Smith and Von Miller all separated themselves with speed.

There are examples of hits and misses in each draft class, leaving us to wonder what the overall impact of the 40 time is. Speed can separate a talented player from his peers but should be weighed equally among other factors. The players that have recently thrived out of the group of 40 time flames are those that succeeded on the collegiate gridiron. The players that were coveted for their 40 speed alone tended to struggle with the transition to the physical style of play in the pros.

We will now take a look at the top anticipated 40 times of players that are likely to be selected on draft day.

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20. Jamar Taylor – CB, Boise State

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Jamar Taylor was a First-Team All-Mountain West selection in his senior year at Boise State. He had six interceptions in his past two seasons but received the most praise for his tackling ability. Taylor is projected to clock in at 4.47 at the combine and should be selected in the third round of the upcoming draft.

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19. Robert Woods – WR, Southern California

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Robert Woods broke several receiving records at the prestigious USC. Woods has an excellent combination of speed and size that should make him an asset at the professional level. In addition to being a touchdown and reception machine, Woods is expected to run a 4.47 in the 40-yard dash and should be a second round pick on draft day.

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18. Dee Milliner – CB, Alabama

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Dee Millner decided to forgo his senior season after a tremendous junior campaign and a national championship at Alabama. He is regarded for his build and his ability to break up passes with a 6’1” frame and long arms. He has solid speed and should clock in at 4.47, making him a top-10 pick ondraft day.

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17. Duke Williams – SS, Nevada

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Duke Williams was a Second-Team All-Mountain West selection in 2012 as a member of Nevada. Williams recorded 106 tackles (5.5 tackles for a loss) along with three forced fumbles in his senior season. His speed will be an asset to him at the professional level in his fight to become a starting safety. Williams should check in at 4.46 and be off the board by the fourth round.

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16. Dwayne Gratz – CB, Connecticut

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Dwayne Gratz was a competent cornerback with adequate build for Connecticut. He did not thrive in any one particular aspect of defense but his sound fundamentals should make him a late selection. Gratz is expected to run a 4.46 40 and should be drafted in the fifth round.

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15. Chris Harper – WR, Kansas State

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Harper led Kansas State in receiving in his senior season. Although the Wildcats were regarded for their running attack, Harper managed to post respectable numbers. He was originally a quarterback but shifted to receiver which speaks to his athleticism. He should check in at 4.46 and be a fourth round selection on draft day.

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14. Cordarrelle Patterson – WR, Tennessee

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Cordarrelle Patterson should climb up draft boards as April approaches and with good reason. He boasts elite athleticism and speed that makes him a terror with the ball in his hands. He played only one season at Tennessee after beginning his career at JUCO. He proved enough in his one season that game film and his 4.46 40 time should will make him a top-20 pick.

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13. Blidi Wreh-Wilson – CB, Connecticut

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Blidi Wreh-Wilson enjoyed a successful career at Connecticut and will now attempt to make the jump to the pros. He has impressive size, speed and intangibles but there is doubt surrounding his ability to play man coverage. He should run a 4.44 40 time at the combine and be drafted by the fourth round.

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12. Andre Ellington – RB, Clemson

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Andre Ellington has been an integral part of the Clemson offense for all four years. He topped 200 carries and 1,000 rushing yards in each of his past two seasons. What he lacks in size, he makes up for with game-breaking speed and elusiveness. He is expected to run a 4.44 40 time and will be off the board by the third round.

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11. Markus Wheaton – WR, Oregon State

Jim Z. Rider-USA TODAY Sports

Markus Wheaton broke out in his senior season at Oregon State. After catching just five touchdowns in his career, Wheaton tallied 11 in his final season with the Beavers. His speed and ability to run routes well make him a candidate to climb up draft boards as the draft approaches. He is expected to check in at 4.44 and should be a second round selection.

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10. Corey Fuller – WR, Virginia Tech

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Corey Fuller really only began his career in 2012 with Virginia Tech. He may not be as versatile as teammate Marcus Davis but he has speed to make him a threat at the next level. The former walk-on should run a 4.43 40 and complete his improbable rise to the NFL as a fifth round selection with upside.

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9. B.W. Webb – CB, William & Mary


B.W. Webb hails from the unlikely program of William & Mary. He has accumulated 48 starts and has drawn rave reviews from those that have seen him play. He is among the Tribe’s all-time leaders in interceptions and punt return yards. His speed and coverage skills project well at the next level. He is rumored to run a 4.43 40 and should be drafted by the fourth round.

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8. Robert Alford – CB, Southeastern Louisiana

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Alford is a terrific cornerback and athlete out of Southeastern Louisiana. He was a highly regarded receiver and sprinter out of high school who was used often in the slot because of his tenacity and ability to rush the cornerback. Good slot cornerbacks are difficult to come by but Alford seems to possess the necessary size and strength. He should check in at 4.42 at the combine and should be a third round pick.

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7. Shamarko Thomas – SS, Syracuse

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Shamarko Thomas played all over the field for the Syracuse defense before finding a permanent home at strong safety and leading the Orange in tackles. Thomas is a bit undersized at 5’9” but he is lightning quick and delivers terrific strength. He reportedly ran a 4.39 40 at his junior pro day but should remain on the board until the sixth round.

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6. Steve Williams – CB, California

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Williams decided to leave California a year early after filling up the stat sheet his junior year. In his abbreviated career, Williams recorded 150 tackles with a handful for losses as well as six interceptions and three forced fumbled. His coverage skills are in question but he certainly has elite speed with a 4.39 40 time. He is projected to be drafted in the sixth round.

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5. Denard Robinson – QB/WR, Michigan

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Denard Robinson will make the transition from quarterback to receiver after a decorated career at Michigan. Robinson was always feared for his legs above his arm and he will attempt to translate his speed into an NFL career. He will be a work in progress but a team will definitely take a chance on him. He is known to run a 4.39 40 and should be drafted in the sixth round.

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4. Kenjon Barner – RB, Oregon

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Kenjon Barner was one of the top players in the high-powered Oregon offense. The speedy back rushed for went over 2,000 total yards in his senior season and racked up 23 touchdowns. There is the fear that Barner cannot withstand a full workload at the professional level and that he may be a product of the spread offense. Nobody can deny Barner’s speed, clocking in at 4.39. Barner should be a fifth round pick.

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3. Tavon Austin – WR, West Virginia

James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Tavon Austin was arguably the most dynamic player in the country for West Virginia. Austin played a mix of receiver and running back and thrived all over the field. He has endless ability with the ball in his hands and draws realistic comparisons to Percy Harvin. Austin will run a 4.38 40 time and will be a first round pick when all is said and done.

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2. Onterio McCalebb – RB, Auburn

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Onterio McCalebb served as a complementary back during his four year career at Auburn. He was well regarded for his speed but at a frail 173 lbs, he struggled to run between tackles. McCalebb is unlikely to accomplish big things in the pros but he should get a chance due to his 4.36 lightning speed. He could come off the board as a seventh round pick.

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1. Marquise Goodwin – WR, Texas

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Marquise Goodwin was a receiver for Texas but was also a member of the US Olympic track and field team as a long jumper. He is a versatile figure on the field, known for his big play ability as a receiver and a runner. He did not post exceptional totals in college but he has rare speed that will easily translate into the NFL. Goodwin runs a 4.36 40-yard dash and should be a fourth round pick on draft day.