- Covered Broncos for nine years for Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News
- Previously covered Steelers, Bills and Titans
- Member of Pro Football Hall of Fame Board
of Selectors since 1999
INDIANAPOLIS — Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III flashed rare speed at the NFL’s scouting combine Thursday night, but he didn’t quite get the record he had hoped for.
Ruggs, easily considered one of the fastest players available in this year’s draft, said earlier this week he wanted to break the record for the 40-yard dash at the event.
Former University of Washington wide receiver John Ross, currently with the Cincinnati Bengals, holds the record time of 4.22, which he set at the 2014 combine. Ruggs officially ran 4.27 in his first attempt at the 40 inside Lucas Oil Stadium Thursday night, and then followed that with an unofficial 4.31.
Elite speed to be sure, but not good enough for the crown.
Asked Tuesday what his goal was in his on-field workout, Ruggs had said: “I’m trying to hit the lowest ever. So 4.22 or lower.”
Ruggs was also asked earlier this week what his fastest 40 time had been thus far in his pre-draft workouts and he said he didn’t want to know after running.
“I actually didn’t ask for the times,” Ruggs said. “Whenever I ran them, I ran on feel. So if it felt good, I went back to the coach and asked him, ‘Did it look good?'”
Ruggs was expected to sit out the remainder of Thursday’s drills and was seen icing his quad after running the 40.
Record or not, Ruggs’ speed was certainly noticed by the league’s talent evaluators. He also posted a 42-inch vertical jump earlier in the evening, making him the only player since 2006 to produce a vertical jump of at least 40 inches to go with a sub-4.3 40-yard dash, according to ESPN’s Stats and Information research.
Ruggs finished this past season with 40 receptions for 746 yards to go with seven touchdowns, playing alongside Jerry Jeudy, also one of the highest-rated wide receivers in this year’s draft, in the Crimson Tide’s offense. Ruggs averaged 18.7 yards per catch and finished his three seasons at Alabama with a career average of 17.5 yards per catch.
He also finished with 24 touchdowns on 98 career receptions – 24.5 percent of his catches. Both Ruggs and Jeudy are expected to be first-round picks in the April draft.
Ruggs measured in at 5-foot-11-inches and weighed 188 pounds just after he arrived at the combine and said he believed he could have a similar impact as Tyreek Hill has had for the Chiefs.
“He’s not the biggest guy,” Ruggs said. “So him being in that offense and making the plays that he’s making, doing the things that he does, it gives me more confidence to show that anybody can do anything.”
An especially deep group of wide receivers in this draft showed off their speed as both Texas’ Devin Duvernay and Memphis’ Antonio Gibson had official clockings of 4.39 seconds.
Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool, who some teams see as a potential tight end because measured and weighed 6-4 ½ and 238 pounds, turned plenty of heads with a 4.42 showing. It made Claypool the first receiver since Calvin Johnson at the 2007 combine to weigh at least 230 pounds and run a sub-4.45 40.
LSU’s Justin Jefferson, who finished this past season with 111 catches for 1,540 yards to go with 18 touchdowns, also showed a little better speed than expected with a 4.43. The two wide receivers on the board, Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb, had official clockings of 4.45 and 4.50, respectively.
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