Day one of athletic testing at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine is officially in the books. Specialists (they're people too), offensive linemen and running backs have now run the complete gauntlet. Interviews, media sessions, weigh-ins, medicals and athletic testing/drills now complete, our biggest set of data points regarding these position groups are locked and loaded.
What will change from here on out? Not much. Barring troubles off the field, we'll see non-participants fill in the blanks with Pro Day workouts. We may see some guys try to re-test and get some home-field advantage as it pertains to their numbers in certain drills.
But impressions have been made. So who won? The running back group as a whole did not. We saw several players crash and burn today in athletic testing.
Public Service Announcement: DO. NOT. COUNT. IT. TWICE! And try not to overreact. Several of the running backs who flamed out over the course of their testing were not expected to be strong athletes to begin with. It's okay. It can impact their value but it shouldn't necessarily yield drastic changes in opinion. At worst, you should go back to the tape and look again. If you want to make adjustments, make them off the film.
But we're here to talk about the winners. Here are three running back prospects who helped themselves today with their performances at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine.
Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
Have yourself a day, young man! Hill was one of a select few running backs to weigh in this week under 200 pounds, which led to some raised eyebrows. In order to save face, he'd have to test well.
Hill blazed the fastest official 40-yard dash of the day, posting a 4.40 time that was threatened by only a handful of other times. But watching Hill at Oklahoma State, you knew he'd be fast. And when adjusting for Hill's size, his 40-time was really just above average. A 4.40 forty-time at 198 pounds registers as a 105.7 speed score. If you're unfamiliar with the concept of a speed score, here is some great background on the metric and why it is an important measure.
But fear not! Hill didn't just run an above average 40-yard dash. Hill led the pack in the vertical jump (40.0"), standing broad jump (10'10") and managed 21 reps of 225 on the bench press at 198 pounds.
This was an all around explosive performance. Seeing Hill, who had a spectacular 2017 season and a more modest affair in 2018, tear up the testing will certainly help reinvigorate his status.
Miles Sanders, Penn State
If you were expecting a repeat of Saquon Barkley's performance at last year's NFL Combine, you may be a little disappointed. But to be frank, those are probably the only circumstances in which you should be underwhelmed.
Sanders turned in an all around, rock solid day. Was he dominant in any one test? The three cone (6.89 seconds), which is a great measure of change of direction skills. In watching Sanders' tape, it was apparent that he had a lot of spring in his steps. Sanders confirmed that with his time in this particular drill.
At 5-foot-10 and 5/8th of an inch and 211 pounds, here are Sanders' other tests:
- 4.49 second 40-yard dash
- 20 bench reps
- 36.0" vertical
- 10'04" broad jump
- 4.19 short shuttle
Despite his preference for Sheetz over Wawa, Sanders has solidified himself as a top-4 running back on my personal board.
Damien Harris, Alabama
Folks. Harris is a tank. At 216 pounds, he's not necessarily the most bursty guy. He ran his 40 in the high 4.5s (4.57 to be exact). But the man jumped 37.0" and 10'01" in the vert and broad respectively. I was super impressed with those numbers, because while I knew he was powerful, I wasn't sold on his explosiveness.
I am now. Harris doesn't have that final gear to pull away from guys in the open field, but he's got just about everything else you could possibly want. In adjusting his testing for his size, Harris registered as an above average athlete in my personal measure (Physical Size and Athleticism Rating...or PSAR).
With his testing answering some of the gray areas of his film, I'm more than comfortable to continue and forge ahead with the impressions I wrote in my report of Harris from last month.