The single biggest question facing Aztecs All-American running back Rashaad Penny entering the NFL Combine was this:
Does he have the breakaway speed to hit the monster plays in the NFL that we got spoiled watching every weekend when he was leading the nation in rushing at San Diego State?
The best way to answer that question is to put in a top-notch 40-yard time and that’s exactly what he did on Friday in Indianapolis.
Penny’s workout was highlighted by a 4.46 time in the 40, making him the 3rd-fastest running back in this year’s class. Only N.C. State’s Nyheim Hines and Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, who had arguably the most impressive workout in the history of the NFL Combine, were faster.
Penny also showed good hands in the passing drills and had solid if not spectacular numbers in the bench press (13 reps at 225 pounds), vertical jump (32.5 inches), and broad jump (120 inches). But it was the pure speed that he needed to show he did that, clocking a time that’s a hundredth of a second faster than Ezekiel Elliott ran two years ago.
In fact, Elliott is an interesting comparison to Penny. They’re the same size, ran the same times, had the same vertical jumps, and Penny’s broad jump was two inches better … yet Elliott was a consensus top-5 pick while Penny is trying solidify his standing as a 2nd-round selection.
Meanwhile Barkley was already one of the top prospects in the game and he might have become the number one pick in the Draft after running a 4.40, throwing up an offensive lineman-esque 29 reps on the bench, and going all Dominique Wilkins with a 41-inch vertical leap.
On Saturday the tight ends, quarterbacks and wide receivers work out, meaning Aztecs tight end David Wells gets his shot to impress NFL teams.