NFL Combine: Ruggs shines on Skill Day

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Indianapolis –Thursday evening initiated the on-field workout for skill position players participating in the 2020 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Quarterbacks, tight ends and a stacked class of receivers aimed to separate themselves from their competitors. Big names delivered and exceeded expectations in the workout evaluation as others found their way onto draft boards.

First NFL Combine Experience

February 27 was my first opportunity to cover the NFL scouting combine. I would have never envisioned my first exchange at the combine being with Chris Ballard, GM of the Colts. In the aisle seat of the first row directly in front of the 40-yard dash station was my view for the evening. 

Same Tradition, New Route

Each year at the scouting combine, a lottery is held for the team seating near the finish line of the 40-yard dash. NFL teams are assigned a row (1-32) as scouts accurately time the sprinters. In the section near the starting point were representatives from the Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Chargers and New Orleans Saints. A new drill that was introduced in this year’s combine was the “end zone fade route” in which receivers were to maintain their positioning in bounds, while catching the football at its highest point.   

Fastest 40 Times By Position

Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri, made his draft stock rise on Thursday after running a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash. Among tight ends at least 6’5” and 250 pounds, the former Tiger ran the second fastest time recorded at the combine since 2003. The Illinois native led the SEC in receiving touchdowns as a freshman (11 in 2017) and caught 23 total in 3 years for MIZZOU.

Cole McDonald, Hawaii, recorded the fastest time amongst the quarterbacks with 4.58 in the 40-yard dash. The California native earned second team All-Mountain West in his junior season throwing for 4, 135 passing yards (3rd in FBS).  Heisman finalist Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma, finished just behind McDonald at 4.59 seconds.

Henry Ruggs III, Alabama, left numerous scouts with stopwatches asking around to confirm his combine-halting, 4.27, 40-yard dash time. His 42” vertical leap is the highest of the six other draft prospects that have run sub-4.3 since official combine data tracking began in 2003. The six-foot receiver scored 25 total touchdowns in 3 years and exactly 100 plays from scrimmage for the Crimson Tide.

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