Benny Snell told reporters he had marks in mind he wanted to meet during his drills at the NFL Combine. He didn’t disclose his goal in the 40-yard dash, but it’s likely running a below-average speed wasn’t his hope.
Snell ran an unofficial time of 4.65 seconds in his first 40 attempt, tied for the third-slowest time among all running backs who participated in the drill on Friday. It’s also more than a 10th of a second slower than the average speed run by last year’s top NFL rushers.
The average 40-yard dash time posted at either the pre-draft combine or their college pro day by the top 20 rushers last NFL season was 4.51. That’s the same average speed posted by the 2018 running back draft class, which was comprised of 19 selections.
Two of those 19 draftees ran 4.65 at the combine — Ronald Jones, a second-round pick by Tampa Bay out of Southern Cal, and David Williams, an Arkansas player who was drafted in the seventh round by Denver but was later waived before signing with Jacksonville’s practice squad.
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James Conner — a 6-foot-1, 233-pound star out of Pittsburgh — was the only top-20 rusher last season who ran a 4.65 or worse at the combine. He was drafted in the third round of the 2017 Draft by the Steelers and was thrust into a starting role last season due to Le’Veon Bell’s absence from the team.
Of six former UK running backs who posted official 40 times between the combine and pro-day events since 2000, only two — Artose Pinner and Anthony White — posted slower times (both 4.68). Pinner, who at 5-foot-10, 229 pounds boasts similar measurables to Snell, is the only UK running back drafted over that same time span; he was selected by the Detroit Lions in the fourth round and played five seasons in the NFL.
Damien Harris, a Madison Southern graduate who starred for Alabama the last four years, ran a 4.49 in his first attempt, which was the sixth-fastest time among running backs. Josh Jacobs, an Alabama teammate who’s projected by many to be selected ahead of Harris, did not participate in the 40-yard dash.