Tavon Austin was a fringe first-round pick before the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, but after he left smoke trails on the track in Indy, his stock is soaring.
Austin isn't the only top receiver prospect who bolstered his draft stock with a strong showing in the 40-yard dash, either.
The NFL is becoming more and more a passing league, and as defenses get stretched out by multiple targets and strong-armed, mobile quarterbacks, functional speed is a trait teams can't get enough of.
Therefore, it's imperative for top wide receivers to prove they are capable of breaking off a big play, and the 40-yard dash has become one of the most important drills for incoming prospects—aside from, you know, actually being able to catch the ball.
These young men can not only pluck the ball out of the air with soft hands, but they are also legitimate home-run threats.
Tavon Austin, West Virginia
The thing we already knew about Austin before he ran the 40-yard dash is that he can move laterally almost as fast as he can move vertically. It's this unique and valuable skill that has propelled him into consideration as a late first-round pick.
After he ran the 40 in 4.34 seconds on Sunday, his status as a first-round pick is all but assured.
Austin was highly productive at West Virginia as a dynamic playmaker on offense running the ball and receiving, while also contributing in major ways as a special-teams ace. During his four-year career, he totaled 7,284 all-purpose yards and 40 touchdowns.
He will flourish in the NFL as a slot receiver and special-teams star.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
Patterson only played one year of Division I ball, yet he's been touted as the most dynamic prospect at his position for a while now. He tallied 1,858 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns—scoring as a runner, a receiver, a punt returner and a kickoff returner.
After he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds, it's not hard to envision this young man doing for one lucky team what Julio Jones has done for the Atlanta Falcons the past couple of years.
Patterson also displayed outstanding leaping abilities, posting a mark of 37 inches in the vertical jump.
Many mock drafts had Patterson going to the Miami Dolphins at No. 12 overall or the St. Louis Rams at No. 16, but after his combine performance, it's not a stretch to think Patterson could be selected well before either of those teams pick.
Marquise Goodwin, Texas
Before the scouting process began in earnest, Goodwin, an Olympic long jumper, was thought to be nothing more than a track star trying to play football and was considered to be a late-round pick.
He didn't produce big numbers at Texas, totaling just 2,765 all-purpose yards and 11 total touchdowns in his four-year career, which is why he wasn't being considered as a top prospect.
Then, Goodwin had a phenomenal showing at the Senior Bowl, catching everything that was thrown his way and prompting scouts to take a closer look at his body of work for the Longhorns. Upon this investigation, it became clear that Goodwin wasn't utilized properly at Texas.
Then, Goodwin blew us away at the combine, posting the top 40-yard dash time of any prospect in the first two days of action—a near-record time of 4.27 seconds.
Goodwin's world-class speed, combined with the fact that he's proven to be a fantastic receiver, will likely lead to a second-round pick in 2013.
Here are the results for all the wide receivers who ran the 40-yard dash on Sunday at the combine, courtesy of NFL.com.
|Austin, Tavon||West Virginia||4.34|
|Bailey, Stedman||West Virginia||4.52|
|Bonner, Alan||Jacksonville State||4.59|
|Davis, Marcus||Virginia Tech||4.56|
|Fuller, Corey||Virginia Tech||4.43|
|Goard, Tyrone||Eastern Kentucky||4.50|
|Harper, Chris||Kansas State||4.55|
|Kaufman, Brandon||Eastern Washington||4.67|
|Patton, Quinton||Louisiana Tech||4.53|
|Rogers, Da'Rick||Tennessee Tech||4.52|
|Sanders, Ace||South Carolina||4.58|
|Smith, Rodney||Florida State||4.51|
|Swope, Ryan||Texas A&M||4.34|
|Wheaton, Markus||Oregon State||4.45|
|Wilson, Marquess||Washington State||4.51|
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