Oklahoma State CB Justin Gilbert (l) and Kent State RB Dri Archer were the fastest players at the NFL Combine
A diminutive running back from Kent State University was the fastest player on the field during the recent 2014 NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
Dri Archer, all 5-8 and 173 pounds of him, smoked the 40-yard dash in 4.26 seconds. That was close to breaking the Combine record of 4.24 seconds that was set by running back Chris Johnson in 2008.
Archer was not rewarded for his speed, at least not just yet. Honors went to Oregon State wide receiver Brandon Cooks with the Combine’s second fastest time at 4.33 seconds. Cooks ran his 40s wearing adidas shoes and the company promised a $100,000 bonus to the player that recorded the fastest time while wearing their product.
Every team in the league seeks speed and none more so than the Chiefs. If there’s one trait that must be improved in 2014 it’s the overall team speed.
Based on straight-line speed on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf, here are the fastest Combine participants at each position, except quarterback:
- Dri Archer/Kent State â€“ 4.26 seconds.
One NFL scout reportedly clocked Archer in 4.18 seconds. He officially had a 10-yard split time at 1.46 seconds, meaning he ran each of the last three 10-yard intervals at less than one second. At Kent State, Archer’s big season was 2012 when he had 2,580 all-purpose yards on 215 touches and 23 touchdowns. Archer was hampered in the 2013 season by an ankle injury. Coming out of Laurel, Florida, Archer finished second in the Florida high school 100 meters championship as a senior, posting a time of 10.49 seconds. At the Combine, he also had a 38-inch vertical jump and a broad jump of 10-feet 2 inches along with 20 reps in the bench press.
- Brandin Cooks/Oregon State â€“ 4.33 seconds.
At Lincoln High School in Stockton, California, Cooks competed as a sprinter at the Junior Olympics level, earning the nickname “Sonic Boom.” He posted personal best times of 6.81 seconds over 60 meters, 10.72 in the 100 meters and 21.59 in the 200 meters. Cooks left Oregon State with a year of eligibility remaining after a 2013 season when he was a consensus All-America and the winner of the (Fred) Biletnikoff Award as college football’s best receiver. Last year, he caught 128 passes for 1,730 yards or 133.1 yards per game with 16 TD catches. At 5-10, 189 pounds, there’s one more important statistic on Cooks: he never missed a game in high school and college because of an injury.
- John Brown/Pittsburg State â€“ 4.34 seconds.
A standout on the Division II level with the Gorillas, Brown was a D2 All-America selection each of the past 3 seasons. He stands 5-10 and weighs 179 pounds, with short arms (30Â½ inches) and small hands (8Â½ inches). He caught 61 passes for 1,198 yards and 14 touchdown catches last season. Brown finished his time in the M.I.A.A with 34 scoring grabs in 185 catches. A long road led him to Pitt State out of Homestead, Florida. Brown started at Mars Hill College in North Carolina (2008), did not play the next year (2009), sat out as a redshirt at Coffeyville Junior College (2010), and arrived to join the Gorillas in 2011. He will be 24 years old in early April.
- A.C. Leonard/Tennessee State â€“ 4.43 seconds.
Leonard is a transfer from the University of Florida where he played his freshman season in 2011. After an altercation with a girlfriend in April 2012, he was charged with battery and then suspended by the Gators. He decided to move on and landed at TSU in 2012 and played 10 games for the Tigers, catching 51 passes for 733 yards and 6 TD catches. Last season, he had 34 balls for 441 yards and 5 scores. Leonard stands 6-2 and weighed in at 252 pounds.
- Gabe Ikard/Oklahoma â€“ 5.13 seconds.
Ikard turned in the best 40-time among snappers, but at more than 5 seconds it was not an impressive number. However, there are a lot of other parts of his time with the Sooners that are worthy of consideration. That includes starting 50 of 52 games for OU, reaching a leadership position on the team and graduating in May 2013 with a 4.0 GPA.
- Trai Turner/LSU â€“ 4.93 seconds.
Anybody that weighs 310 pounds and runs the 40 under 5 seconds needs to be seriously considered by any team looking for a mobile inside blocker. He only played 25 games at LSU, starting 20 at right guard. In that time, he established his ability to block for the run; questions remain about his pass protection skills.
- Taylor Lewan/Michigan â€“ 4.87 seconds.
Lewan was the fastest offensive lineman at the Combine and almost reached physical-freak status with his 40-time at 309 pounds and standing 6-feet, 7 inches. Combine that speed with strength (29 repetitions in the bench press), explosion (30.5 inches in the vertical jump) and quickness (7.39 seconds in the 3-cone drill) and it’s not hard to see why he’ll be a top of the first-round selection come May’s draft.
- Jadeveon Clowney/South Carolina â€“ 4.53 seconds.
The legend of Clowney was only cemented by his Combine performance, especially his 40-time while weighing 266 pounds. He’s a remarkable combination of speed and size and he’s not just fast, as he posted a vertical jump of 37.5 inches and a broad jump at 10-feet, 4 seconds. Clowney’s background is familiar to most football fans and there remain questions about his passion for the game. But there’s no question Clowney is a physical freak and there’s no question the Chiefs will not get a chance to select him in the 2014 NFL Draft, unless they trade up to one of the top 3 slots in the picking order.
- Aaron Donald/Pittsburgh â€“ 4.68 seconds.
Donald won the Outland Trophy and was a consensus first-team All-America selection in 2013. Some think he may be too small at 6-1, 285 pounds for an NFL defensive tackle. His athletic skills indicate otherwise, with his 40-time, his 35 repetitions in the bench press, 32 inches in the vertical jump and a 3-cone drill time of 7.11 seconds. His performance in the 40 ranked as the best ever by a defensive tackle in the Combine, topping the 4.69 seconds run by Tank Johnson in 2004. On the college level, Donald did not have trouble producing at Pitt, where in 51 games he had 181 total tackles, 66 tackles for loss, 29.5 sacks and 6 forced fumbles. He’s out of Pittsburgh’s Penn Hills High School.
- Kevin Pierre-Louis/Boston College â€“ 4.51 seconds.
Pierre-Louis’ speed makes up for a lack of size and bulk â€“ he stands 6-feet, 232 pounds. He showed impressive numbers in the bench press (28 repetitions), vertical jump (39 inches), broad jump (10-feet, 8 inches) and 3-cone drill (6.92 seconds.) His athletic ability and size may lead him to a safety role in the NFL. Pierre-Louis started all 43 games he played at Boston College, missing 6 games along the way with injuries. He finished with 360 total tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 1 interception and 1 forced fumble. He came out of a private high school King & Low Heywood Thomas School in Stamford, Connecticut.
- Telvin Smith/Florida State â€“ 4.52 seconds.
Smith was the leading tackler in the national champion Seminoles defense with 90 total stops; he added 15 tackles in the BCS Championship Game, a career high. He had 2 sacks and 3 interceptions during the 2013 season, his first as a starter. Speed is not a concern, but his size may be â€“ he was measured at 6-feet, 3 inches tall and weighed just 218 pounds. His future may be at safety in the NFL.
- Justin Gilbert/Oklahoma State â€“ 4.37 seconds
Coming into the Combine, Gilbert said he ran 4.33 seconds in the 40-yard dash during training sessions. He didn’t reach that number, but did finish as the fastest defensive player at the Combine with his official time of 4.37 seconds. Gilbert jumped 35.5 inches in the vertical and 10-feet, 6 inches in the broad jump. His 6.92 seconds in the 3-cone drill was very good. The Texas native spent 4 seasons with the Cowboys, moving into the starting lineup as a sophomore and excelling as a cover corner and a kickoff returner. In 49 games he had 182 total tackles, 12 interceptions (2 returned for TDs) and a career average kickoff return of 26.3 yards, with 6 returns for TDs. Coming out of Huntsville High School, Gilbert posted personal bests in track at 10.45 seconds in the 100 meters and 21.29 seconds in the 200 meters.
- Phillip Gaines/Rice â€“ 4.38 seconds
Before his workout in Indianapolis, Gaines was pegged as a late-round prospect due to his limited production in 52 games over 5 seasons with the Owls. But he turned heads at the Combine with his 40-time and Gaines may present very good value in the middle of the NFL Draft. He also had a 36.5-inch vertical jump and he ran the 3-cone drill in 6.62 seconds, the fifth best performance of the Combine. At Rice, he had just 4 interceptions, all of those coming last season. Out of Converse, Texas, he was one of the top 110-meter hurdlers in the Lone Star state’s high school ranks.
- Jason Verrett/TCU â€“ 4.38 seconds.
Size is going to be something NFL teams worry about with Verrett â€“ he was measured at 5-feet, 9 inches and weighed 189 pounds. One thing not in doubt is the speed he showed at the Combine. He also posted a 39-inch vertical jump, along with a broad jump of 10-feet, 8 inches and a very good time in the 3-cone drill at 6.69 seconds. A junior-college transfer out of California, Verrett played 37 games for the Horned Frogs, with 160 total tackles, 9 interceptions and 34 passes broken up. In the 2012 season, he had 6 INTs in 13 games.
- Terrence Brooks/Florida State â€“ 4.42 seconds.
Another leader on the defensive side for the national champions, Brooks had 56 total tackles, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles and a sack in the 2013 season. His other numbers at the Combine showed good athletic skills, especially his 38-inch vertical jump, but his 3-cone drill time of 7.35 seconds was a disappointment. Coming out of Dunnellon, Florida, Brooks posted a time of 4.44 seconds in the 40 as a high schooler.
- Deone Bucannon/Washington State â€“ 4.49 seconds.
The doubts about Bucannon’s speed were answered at the Combine with his official time just a tick under 4.5 seconds. He was impressive across the board in the testing, with a 36.5-inch vertical jump, 10-feet, 5-inch broad jump and a 6.96-second run through the 3-cone drill. At Washington State, Bucannon was a four-year starter and three-year team captain. In 49 games (43 starts), he finished with 384 total tackles, along with 15 interceptions and 7 forced fumbles. He’s out of Vanden High School, on the east side of San Francisco Bay.