Auburn running back Onterio McCalebb had the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine buzzing after he ran a blazing 4.34-second 40-yard dash, and he's not the only player to improve his stock with a fast time on Sunday.
Running fast isn't the only thing NFL scouts look for in running back prospects, but it certainly doesn't hurt a player's cause if he has the game-breaking speed to go the distance on any given play.
Plenty of star NFL running backs don't have breakaway speed, but the ones who do are highly coveted.
Here are three running backs who bolstered their draft stock by posting excellent times in the 40-yard dash on Day 4 of the combine.
Onterio McCalebb, Auburn
Auburn's McCalebb's size will likely prevent him from becoming an NFL running back. At 5'10" and 168 pounds, he lacks the requisite girth to handle the kind of relentless punishment NFL defenders dish out.
He's a terrific receiver and kickoff-return specialist, though, and after posting a couple of unofficial 40 times of 4.27 and 4.21, he's surely raised the eyebrows of a few general managers around the league.
All you have to do is take one look at how Jacoby Jones impacted the Baltimore Ravens' Super Bowl run to understand how devastating pure speed can be in the NFL.
McCalebb possesses elite agility and quickness, to go along with his world-class speed.
During his four years at Auburn, he rushed for 2,586 yards and 24 touchdowns on 406 carries and caught 63 passes for 620 yards and three touchdowns. Additionally he tallied 1,360 yards and two touchdowns on kickoff returns in his four years at Auburn.
A player with that kind of proven productivity—in the SEC, no less—will give teams a reason to take a chance on him in the second or third round this April.
Knile Davis, Arkansas
Davis missed the entire 2011 season with an ankle injury after setting the SEC on fire with 1,322 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns as a sophomore in 2010.
He then struggled to stay healthy with a hamstring injury in 2012 and wasn't particularly effective when he was able to play, logging a 3.4 yards-per-carry average and scoring just two touchdowns.
Needless to say, his draft stock wasn't particularly rising before the combine.
In fact, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller didn't even include him in his latest seven-round mock draft.
After Davis ran the 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds, I'm betting he gets picked up on Day 3 of the draft, perhaps even as early as the fourth round—provided he medically checks out, of course.
Johnathan Franklin, UCLA
Franklin ran the fourth-fastest 40 time of any running back at the combine, posting a respectable time of 4.49 seconds.
Before the combine, he was considered to be a terrific prospect who could excel in a zone-blocking, one-cut scheme, though scouts wondered if he had enough speed to break off big gains.
As a senior at UCLA last year, Franklin piled up 1,734 yards and 13 touchdowns on just 283 carries (6.1 yards per carry), and caught 33 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns.
That kind of productivity combined with his speed will surely lead to a surge in draft stock. Franklin should get picked up in the late-second round or in the third round.
|Bell, Le'Veon||Michigan St.||4.60|
|Bernard, Giovani||North Carolina||4.53|
|Bohanon, Tommy||Wake Forest||4.88|
|Boren, Zach||Ohio St.||5.00|
|Harper, D.J.||Boise St.||4.52|
|Lattimore, Marcus||South Carolina||-|
|Maysonet, Miguel||Stony Brook||-|
|Michael, Christine||Texas A&M||4.54|
|Pryor, Lonnie||Florida St.||4.70|
|Randle, Joseph||Oklahoma St.||4.63|
|Riddick, Theo||Notre Dame||4.68|
|Rouse, Robbie||Fresno St.||4.80|
|Thompson, Chris||Florida St.||-|
|Williams, Kerwynn||Utah St.||4.48|
|Wilson, Braden||Kansas St.||4.81|
|Wood, Cierre||Notre Dame||4.56|
Full results courtesy of NFL.com.
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