The NFL Combine has become a massive event. It was once a midweek event that took place early in the mornings in Indianapolis, but now has become a legitimate primetime show, one that is broadcast on NFL Network with an ESPN simulcast in the 8 p.m. ET window.
The reason for this is, partially, the ravenous appetite of football fans for any football content — especially around the beloved NFL Draft — but also because it is the opportunity to see some of the best athletes in the world put that athleticism on display. On Thursday night, Henry Ruggs, a top wide receiver prospect out of Alabama, ran a blistering 4.27 second 40-yard dash, which ranks among the fastest ever, even if not quite reaching John Ross’ 4.22 from a couple years ago.
That was thrilling, but I would argue that we saw a more impressive 40-yard dash on Friday afternoon when the offensive lineman took to the field. Mekhi Becton, a 364-pound tackle out of Louisville, is expected to be a top 10-15 pick come April because of his unreal size and strength, as he mows down opposing defenders. However, he proved he’s not just a mauler, but is also fleet of foot when he ran a ridiculous 5.11 second 40, to the utter dismay of Rich Eisen in the booth.
6'7" and 364 lbs… OL Mekhi Becton just ran a 5.11u 40-yard dash! 👀
— NFL (@NFL) February 28, 2020
It was eventually determined that Becton’s official time was a 5.10. Becton’s 40 is reminiscent of other giant humans running fast at the Combine, as defensive tackles Vita Vea and Dontari Poe, from Washington and Memphis respectively, came to Indy and blew folks away with their speed at 350 or so pounds in the last decade.
Poe running sub-5 seconds remains the gold standard of ridiculous big fella speed, but Vea and Becton’s 5.11s are also wildly impressive, especially given Becton is 18 pounds heavier than Poe somehow. Also, it’s even more impressive given he’s an offensive lineman, who isn’t ever really asked too often to hit top speed, as opposed to a defensive player that sometimes has to chase plays sideline to sideline. To prove it was not a fluke, Becton came out and ran 5.13 in his second attempt.
2nd 40 attempt for Mekhi Becton: 5.13! pic.twitter.com/Zs0DwpZ6nJ
— SUSPENDED AGAIN (@FTBeard1) February 28, 2020
Now, that also means there’s little to take away from Becton’s 40 other than marveling at it, but scouts will love his quick 10-yard split, showing his ability to burst off the line at the snap and get second level to pick up a linebacker or safety. In a golden era of using tackle eligible players as receivers, I can only hope whoever drafts Becton recognizes this opportunity to get this big fella the ball in the open field so he can run away from linebackers.
It also serves as a reminder that the caliber of athlete on the field in high level college football and the NFL is, truly, preposterous, because you’d be hard pressed to find a lot of average people that can run within a half-second of Becton. Becton was already a top prospect, but his athleticism that’s been on display Friday at the combine will only push him further up draft boards.