It's understandable that Sam Bradford is excited about Chris Givens' speed. Neither of the wide receivers drafted last year—Austin Pettis and Greg Salas—were going to take the top off a defense. Meanwhile, second-round wide receiver Brian Quick is big, but he only ran in the 4.5s at the combine.
Givens' 4.37 40 time at the same event is evidence of top-end speed, and Bradford is convinced that the Wake Forest product has it.
Ron Clements of CBS Sports reports that Bradford called Givens "really, really fast." The quarterback thinks that if defenses ignore or take their eye off Givens for a "half-second," he'll get behind them. Clements also reports that Givens himself has talked-up his speed, calling it "a big part of his game" and "something I pride myself on."
A closer look at one of Givens' best games of the year against the always-tough Virginia Tech defense reveals that maybe his speed won't be the difference maker that Bradford thinks it will be.
First, at 0:26, Givens' 79-yard touchdown catch (his longest of the year) against Hokie corner Jayron Hosley, who was actually drafted ahead of Givens despite testing positive for banned substances at the combine. Givens appears to torch Hosley, but watch for Hosley grabbing his hamstring at the end of the play.
Hosley did in fact injure his hamstring on the play and missed the rest of the game. He had also missed two practices during the week with tenderness in the hamstring, so it's safe to say that Hosley and his 4.47 combine speed were not completely present on the play.
On the two plays that follow at 1:36, Givens is tackled easily in the open field on short passes because he stumbles trying throttle up, negating his speed
At 2:03, Givens' quickness to get a clean release does allow him to get separation on redshirt freshman corner Detrick Bonner, who was Hosley's replacement. Bonner is beaten and he does get a little grabby, but he also looks back for the ball. The corner is able to break up the pass, as Givens fails to make a strong enough play on the ball to draw a flag.
In the NFL, Givens will be facing more experienced and speedy cornerbacks than Detrick Bonner. In fact, with the Hokies' best corner out for the game, you would expect Givens to have had a large effect on the outcome.
However, Givens and his game-breaking speed only ended up producing six catches for 61 yards in the 38-17 loss to Virginia Tech. He might have terrific speed in a straight line, but his footwork and plays on the ball in flight will have to improve if Givens is going to continue to pride himself on his ability to run away from defenders.