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The Fastest NFL Combine Ever Created a New Class of Sonic Boom or Bust Prospects

Kentucky Offensive Lineman Dare Rosenthal.

Kentucky Offensive Lineman Dare Rosenthal.
Image: AP

Surprisingly, offensive linemen have the strongest correlation between elite 40 times and productive careers. Three of the four fastest 40s in combine history by offensive lineman have been run by Pro Bowl tackles Terron Armstead (4.71), Lane Johnson (4.72), Brian O’Neill(4.82). Tampa Bay’s All-Pro tackle Tristan Wirfs (4.85) ran the sixth-fastest and can claim to be the fastest offensive lineman over 320 pounds. Taylor Lewan (4.87) and Trent Williams (4.88) round out the top 10 fastest players who’ve become upper-echelon starting offensive linemen. Chris Chester played a decade in the NFL after his 4.87 propelled him into the second round. Those other three players with the 10 fastest times, Aviante Collins, Bruce Campbell, and Allen Barbre, were fringe prospects taken in the fourth round or later.

Over the weekend, Ikem Ekwonu, the presumptive top lineman in the draft, ran a 4.97. Kentucky’s 6-foot-7 tackle Dare Rosenthal eclipsed that and matched Trent Williams’ time with a 4.88 run at 290 pounds. However, he did so 20 pounds lighter.

Arizona State’s Kellen Diesch, Tulsa’s Chris Paul, and Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning followed close behind with 4.89 to round out the fastest group of offensive linemen in NFL combine history. In total, 12 offensive linemen posted a sub-5.0 40, which doubled the previous high set in 2013. Out of that group, 322 pound Penning might be the best FCS offensive tackle prospect since Armstead. He’s even got Myles Garrett on notice.

On the other side of the 40-yard-dash offensive line leaderboard, could Texas A&M’s Kenyon Green’s 5.24 40 (and 20 reps on the bench press) plummet out of the top 10?

In the case of Green, his 40 time is the mirage. Guys like Orlando and Trent Brown have run like slugs at the combine and still become All-Pro pass protectors. What will concern teams who are heavily invested in these exercises, are his 20 bench press reps, which were the second-fewest of any linemen who participated in the workout. We already knew this was going to be a special class of offensive lineman, but the rest of the field left scouts buzzing.

Verdict: Real Deal



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