First things first (when else would you do the first things?) I believe the RB position is the spot where combine results are least telling in terms of predicting future NFL success. WR vs CB, DE vs OT, there are matchups in the NFL where measurables can help tell you how a guy is going to match up or have a chance to succeed against opponents on the field. At running back the game is so much about vision, patience, decisiveness, contact balance, ability to finish runs with power etc. That said, getting the athletic profile of a guy certainly has its advantages at all positions. Some RB observations for you:
1 – Christian McCaffrey had a great day. Sub 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, a 3 cone time in the 6.5s, and he looked phenomenal in the position drills catching the ball and changing direction. Would like to see him go to a team that’s going to utilize him properly as a very diverse offensive weapon, but he probably doesn’t get enough credit as a guy who has touched the ball almost 700 times over the last two years at Stanford. He’s a little undersized as a standard bellcow back, but he’s carried the load at Stanford for a couple years and done an amazing job at it.
2 – Leonard Fournette had an average day. He weighed in at 240 pounds which was a little higher than many expected. His 28.5-inch vertical jump is much lower than you expect from a RB. Then he ran a 4.50 40 yard dash. That isn’t going to be fun for defensive backs to deal with on NFL runs. He is what he is. A very large, very fast, very hard to tackle a guy that’s going to wear down defenses over the course of games.
3 – Dalvin Cook had a below average day, but he’ll remain my #2 RB behind Joe Mixon because as stated above, I Trust the Tape on RB more than any position. Mixon jumped a little below average for a RB and ran a 40 time that I think was a few hundredths slower than most expected. Just turn on the tape. He’s a home run hitter, he brings quickness, he’s so tough to deal with out of the backfield and has a great feel for holes and an ability to outrun angles.
4 – I’m going to beat this saying down, but Trust the Tape on Samaje Perine out of Oklahoma. He ran a 4.65 which was about exactly what I expected. He never won with speed at OU, it’s just not his game. He has enough shiftiness, a feel for the weakest point in the defense where he can fall forward, and he’s built like a truck. He has some of the best contact balance in the class. First defenders aren’t going to bring him down and when they do it will be a few yards after he’s been hit. He’s resilient and a very good runner.