After his performance at the NFL Scouting Combine on Sunday in Indianapolis, Washington linebacker Travis Feeney had NFL front offices, media and fans sounding a lot like this guy.
After measuring in at 6'4", 230 pounds, Feeney flashed his rare athleticism in multiple drills. He posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.50 seconds—the second-fastest of any linebacker—while leading his position group with a 40-inch vertical jump. He also finished second among linebackers with a broad jump of 10 feet, 10 inches.
Steve Frederick @SportsGuyTweets
#Washingon LB Travis Feeney - 4.50u on 1st 40 attempt #NFLDraft https://t.co/LuYdRXncyv2016-2-28 19:17:18
Feeney's stellar marks drew plenty of praise from the draft media, including Bleacher Report's own Matt Miller:
Matt Miller @nfldraftscout
Travis Feeney is a bit of a freak. Ran 4.50 and jumped 40" on vert and 10'10" on broad2016-2-28 19:16:17
What's even more impressive? Feeney did it all at less than 100 percent, per Rand Getlin of NFL Network:
Rand Getlin @Rand_Getlin
LB Travis Feeney (@dawgs41feeney) ran a 4.50 40, had a 40 inch vert and a 10'10" broad. Nuts. And he did it all while dealing with a hernia.2016-2-28 19:24:40
The show Feeney put on Sunday was just the latest chapter in a football career marked by clear improvement at every stage.
Despite redshirting as a freshman in 2011, Feeney did everything he could to make a significant impact for the Huskies, winning the team's Defensive Scout Team MVP award. Once he he hit the field for game action, Feeney was named to the All-Pac-12's honorable mention group as a redshirt freshman in 2012 after making the switch from safety to linebacker.
After making nine starts and winning the Huskies' Special Teams Player of the Year Award in 2014, Feeney took his game to another level in his senior campaign. Replacing the departed Hau'oli Kikaha at Washington's "Buck" position, Feeney racked up 17.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks in 2015, earning second-team all-conference honors and the team's Defensive MVP.
Feeney turned didn't just turn heads with his play on the field this season. He also garnered attention for his haircut back in October, carving a pink ribbon into the back of his head for breast cancer awareness. Feeney has lost a number of family members to the disease over the past few years. He dedicated one of his best performances—complete with a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown—to his mother, who had recently lost a close friend.
Projecting Feeney at the pro level is an intriguing endeavor. While some might look at him and see a "tweener" who may not translate well, others could see a hybrid-type player who can both rush the passer off the edge but also thrive in space. His experience at safety shows in his range as a cover man, while his explosiveness and length made him a productive pass-rusher for the Huskies this past season.
Listed at 226 pounds at Washington, Feeney did himself plenty of good by weighing four pounds heavier and still turning in such impressive numbers at the combine. With his size and versatility, Feeney could play outside linebacker in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme.
Feeney says he enjoys playing in space, but he's willing to do whatever an NFL team asks of him, via Seahawks.com:
It’s kind of a case of wherever they want me to play. I’m open to everything. I want to an outside backer, I want to be covering, I want to be playing hook drops, I want to be covering tight ends. But whatever they want me to do, I don’t mind getting after the quarterback either. I wouldn’t mind pass rushing some plays and getting after it. A mix of that would be great for me.
His experience and success on special teams will allow him to have an instant impact at the next level, but the numbers he put up in Indianapolis on Sunday may cause team's to take a closer look at his film to assess his potential impact as a starting linebacker. Versatility is king in today's NFL, and a player who can play on the line of scrimmage, off the ball or in space will have plenty of defensive coordinators clamoring.
Once viewed as most likely a Day 3 prospect, Feeney's display of athleticism at the pressure-packed combine could vault him into consideration on the draft's second day.