2016 NFL Combine Running Favorites

nfl combine running favorites 2016 images
Article by Will Laws

UPDATE: 2/29/2016

Chris Jones is proving to be rather popular among some people as his run took a stumble, but not for the reasons people first thought. It seems that a certain body part on him decided to break free from his shorts  and flop around forcing him to take a dive to the ground. Otherwise, I’m sure somebody within the NFL would have decided to fine him for obscenity, but if he finished his run, he would shown them he was willing to win no matter what. For those feeling that end of the NFL season postpartum depression, the NFL Combine has been able to get through you some of that while you wait for the pre-season games to begin. As Shane McLendon reported, the Combine reminds many of us of Field Days back in elementary school so while giving us some NFL action, it’s also a reminder of days gone by.

Free agent running back Chris Johnson admitted to SiriusXM NFL Radio on Tuesday that he hopes his 40-yard dash record of 4.24 seconds, which was set at the 2008 NFL Combine, continues to stand the test of time through this weekend. He also said he was surprised someone hadn’t broken it yet.

Is this the year an NFL hopeful snatches the crown away from CJ2K? As if prospects need any motivation to prove their worth, Adidas is offering $1 million to any combine participant who can run the drill in 4.23 seconds or less.

Last year, J.J. Nelson made the then-folded football program at UAB proud, topping all participants with a 4.28 forty. Our friends at Point After have run down the top five contenders to lead the field of elite athletes and former track stars this weekend.


1. Kolby Listenbee, TCU WR


Fastest reported time: 4.36 seconds
NFLDraftScout overall ranking: No. 148

Listenbee isn’t considered a top prospect, but he’s been anointed as the favorite to post the fastest forty time this weekend by various analysts. The lanky 6-foot-1 Texas native must showcase his athletic credentials because his statistical output at TCU wasn’t overly impressive.

Fellow Horned Frog Josh Doctson bested Listenbee in receiving yards in each of the last two seasons, and actually finished third on the team in 2015 with 597 yards on 30 catches in 11 games. That being said, Listenbee showcased his potential as a deep threat by averaging 41.4 yards on his five touchdown receptions last year.

This isn’t an especially strong class for wide receivers. If Listenbee can deliver on the hype and show he’s a cut above every other wideout when it comes to straight-line speed, he could very well jump up big boards across the league. We know from history that certain teams (ahem, Raiders) love taking fliers on speedy flankers, for better or worse.

2. LeShaun Sims, Southern Utah CB


Fastest reported time: mid-4.3 seconds
NFLDraftScout overall ranking: No. 248

A four-year starter at Southern Utah, Sims reportedly clocked in the mid-4.3s in front of NFL scouts last spring before his redshirt senior season. That earned him a surprise invite to the combine, where two of his Thunderbird teammates will also try to make an impression.

FCS prospects are under additional pressure to open eyes at the combine since film exploits can be explained away by facing weaker opposition. The combine puts all players on an even scale, and Sims can show he belongs by besting his FBS peers.

The Las Vegas native must know that a sub-4.3 time could boost his stock into the middle rounds, so you can bet he’s invested a lot of time into perfecting every portion of his forty form.


3. Braxton Miller, Ohio State QB


Fastest reported time: 4.32
NFLDraftScout overall ranking: No. 46

While destroying cornerbacks’ dreams at the Senior Bowl, Miller took a break to tell reporters he wanted to run a 4.28 at the combine. That’s a lofty goal for the former quarterback and two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, but he might possess the athletic ability to do it. Even as a QB, Miller frequently outran defensive backs at Ohio State, and the Buckeyes often handed the ball off to him in the backfield last season to get the ball in his hands.

After focusing on honing his passing drills for most of his collegiate career, training as a skill player for a full season and pre-combine workouts could’ve unlocked another level in Miller’s speed. We saw this on Saturday when wide receivers ran the forty.


4. Will Fuller, Notre Dame WR


Fastest reported time: 4.42
NFLDraftScout overall ranking: No. 43

Though SI’s Chris Burke didn’t project Fuller will be picked in the first two rounds during his latest abbreviated mock draft, the Notre Dame product could improve his stock by offsetting his mediocre size (6-foot, 184 lbs.) with top-flight speed. A long strider for his height, Fuller took the top off of defenses for two years as the primary target in Notre Dame’s offense.

He burned USC track star Adoree Jackson in their highly anticipated clash last season, then outran Ohio State’s secondary on an 81-yard catch-and-score in the Fiesta Bowl.

Whether or not Fuller’s forty time this weekend reflects it, he clearly possesses the open-field speed to cut it in the NFL.


5. Jalen Ramsey, Florida State CB


Fastest reported time: 4.54 (high school)
NFLDraftScout overall ranking: No. 3

Already pegged as the top cornerback of his class, Ramsey would cement his status as a top-five pick if he can stun scouts and smash Johnson’s record. Don’t discount that possibility. Ramsey has matured into a world-class athlete during his time as a Seminole, and should blow by the 4.54-second time he recorded in high school.

Ramsey ran the leadoff leg in Florida State’s 4×100 relay team that captured the ACC championship in 2015 when the consensus All-American also won the conference’s indoor and outdoor long jump title.

He’ll have the chance to add “fastest 2016 prospect” to his lengthy resume on Monday, when defensive backs wrap up on-field workouts and a 40-yard dash champion is crowned.

This article first appeared in Sports Illustrated and appears here as part of our partnership with Data Graphic and them.