The Paw Print

Marshall, others improve stock with combine performance

Georgia+tailback+Keith+Marshall%2C+right%2C+just+gets+into+the+endzone+past+Kentucky+defender+Mike+Edwards+for+a+touchdown+and+a+24-3+lead+during+the+third+quarter+on+Saturday%2C+Nov.+7%2C+2015%2C+at+Sanford+Stadium+in+Athens%2C+Ga.+Georgia+won%2C+27-3.+%28Curtis+Compton%2FAtlanta+Journal-Constitution%2FTNS%29
Georgia tailback Keith Marshall, right, just gets into the endzone past Kentucky defender Mike Edwards for a touchdown and a 24-3 lead during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. Georgia won, 27-3. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Georgia tailback Keith Marshall, right, just gets into the endzone past Kentucky defender Mike Edwards for a touchdown and a 24-3 lead during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. Georgia won, 27-3. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS

Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS

Georgia tailback Keith Marshall, right, just gets into the endzone past Kentucky defender Mike Edwards for a touchdown and a 24-3 lead during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. Georgia won, 27-3. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Jared Serre, Assistant Editor

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“Oh, gosh!” NFL Network commentator Rich Eisen said.

Eisen just watched University of Georgia running back Keith Marshall run his first of two 40 yard dashes.

‘4.29’ flashed up on the television screen.

Keith Marshall. A 40 yard dash run in 4.29 seconds. Five tenths of a second away from the all time NFL combine record.

Marshall torched the rest of the competition. After achieving an overall time of 4.31 from two attempts, Marshall was standing at the top of the mountain as the fastest running back.

Although pre-combine, Marshall was scarcely seen on any seven round mock draft. With his electric time, Marshall should be able to slip himself into day three of the draft with a day two selection not far behind.

Also using speed to help himself is offensive tackle Jason Spriggs from Indiana University. The 300-pound Spriggs has been fluctuating between the first and second rounds ever since the end of the college football season.

Spriggs, a senior, led all offensive linemen in the 20 yard shuffle with a time of 4.44 seconds. In addition to that, the Hoosier also finished first in the 40 yard dash with an official time of 4.94 seconds.

“Spriggs [with] a 4.85 unofficial 40,” NFL.com writer Chase Goodbread said on Twitter. “Blazing for someone his size, if it holds.”

Of course, offensive lineman need to be more than agile and Spriggs showed that, too. He was one of the top finishers in the bench press with 31 repetitions of 225 pounds as well as the number one finisher in the broad jump with a distance of 115 inches.

Come day two of on-field drills, it was time for quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends to shine.

North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz was one of those who glistened. The 6’5” Wentz, who has been considered quarterback 1b behind California’s Jared Goff, was able to distance himself from the former Golden Bear with his performance.

To start, Wentz had an official 40-yard dash time of 4.77 seconds, five hundredths of a second faster than the 15-pounds lighter Goff. Wentz also jumped three and a half inches higher and eight inches further in the vertical and broad jumps respectively.

However, a quarterback’s athleticism isn’t the most important evaluator; how he plays on the field gives scouts the best idea. When it comes to throws, both quarterbacks looked sharp. Yet, the fact that Wentz “threw the football with zip and confidence” separates him from Goff, according to Yahoo!’s Eric Edholm.

Oklahoma wide receiver Sterling Shepard’s athleticism also helped his chances in the draft as he turned in one of the top all around days from a wideout. Although he did run his 40-yard dash in a pretty average time (4.48 seconds), Shepard led receivers in the bench press and vertical jump.

Described as a clone of Green Bay Packers’ receiver Randall Cobb, Shepard’s performance could catapult him into the first round of a draft full of competition. Of the 43 wide receivers invited to perform at the combine, Shepard was one of the best.

Come day three, the day’s events were chock full of top talent players, such as Ohio State’s Joey Bosa, Clemson’s Shaq Lawson, and Oregon’s DeForest Buckner.

Oklahoma defensive lineman Charles Tapper greatly showed the athleticism it took for him to turn in 50 tackles this season. To start, his 40-yard dash time of 4.59 seconds was best among defensive lineman.

In addition to his fleet footedness, Tapper performed 23 repetitions of 225 pounds which, although not the best, was still fairly well. Tapper was one of the most surprising participants and will surely shoot up draft boards.

Day four brought along supreme talent in the area of defensive backs as Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey and Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III came to prove their worth.

Among those who greatly improved their draft stock on day three was Maryland defensive back Sean Davis. The senior Terrapin showed his strength by finishing second in the bench press with 21 repetitions of 225 pounds. He also had a broad jump of  inches.

In addition to his strength, Davis’s 4.46 second 40-yard dash was one of the best. Also going for him is his participation in two drills, the 3 Cone Drill and the 20 Yard Shuffle, simply because only three others participated in both drills. Although average, his times in those events will help him shoot up draft boards.

Now that the combine is over, it’s time to play the waiting game. Teams will bring in players for individual workouts; rumors will be speculated. It will be interesting to see how this year’s NFL draft plays out starting on April 28th.

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Marshall, others improve stock with combine performance