In 2008, a little-known running back from East Carolina made a huge splash with one of the fastest 40-yard dash times so far this century.
Chris Johnson, or CJ2K for the hipsters out there, put himself on the NFL radar and indeed ran himself right into the first round when the Tennessee Titans took him with the 24th overall selection.
Darren McFadden was drafted by Oakland 4th overall that year, the same year the Carolina Panthers took Jonathan Stewart 13th overall. A small “run” on running backs began with the 22nd overall pick when the Dallas Cowboys took Arkansas’ Felix Jones, a back with a similar style to CJ2K. The Steelers took Rashard Mendenhall, a power back, with the 23rd and then Johnson went off the board.
Today, as the rookie receiver hopefuls lit up the track, some eye-popping times were seen.
Tavon Austin of West Virginia ran a 4.25 as did Texas wideout Marquise Goodwin this morning.
What’s the issue, then, if any?
Size. Or…lack thereof.
Austin measured in at 5’8″ and 174 lbs. Goodwin’s not much bigger at 5’9″ and 184 lbs. Both make Chris Johnson’s 5’11″ 191-pound frame a hulk by comparison.
But that’s okay. We’re talking wide receivers here and both Austin and Goodwin might make electrifying return men and/or slot receivers at the NFL level. Both are too small and lack strength to play on the outside, thus limiting their value. I’ll be very surprised if either runs their way into the first round like Johnson did five years ago.
As we await the “official” times, Chris Johnson’s 4.24 mark could be eclipsed, but the point is that whoever drafts either of these two kids is going to get more speed than anything. I watched a bit of Tavon Austin in the route-running drills and it looks like he has trouble tracking the football in flight – something obviously troubling, considering the position he plays.
We know “you can’t coach speed,” but both of these young speedsters are going to need some heavy coaching in other areas before they likely start seeing the field in the NFL as receivers.
Kinda reminds me of one of Carolina’s draftees last season – WR/KR Joe Adams.