2022 NFL Combine: Speed Thrills as Defensive Backs Close With Record Runs
The 2022 NFL Scouting Combine came to a close on Sunday, and in a four-day weekend dominated by record-setting performances at the 40-yard dash, the best runs of the entire weekend came on Sunday in the defensive back grouping, and one man nearly ran off with the all-time record.
The two fastest 40 times ever recorded by defensive backs happened on Sunday and highlighted a day when the secondary took center stage and bids were made to move up draft lists with just over seven weeks to go to the first pick of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Barnes and Woolen set a new standard for speedy secondaries
Records in the 40-yard dash went flying off the board all weekend. On Saturday, Virginia Tech’s Amare’ Barno set the record for the fastest 40 time ever by a defensive lineman with a 4.36, which would have been a top-5 wide receiver time this Combine.
Not to be outdone, Georgia’s Jordan Davis, at 341 pounds, ran a 4.78, which was the fastest ever by a player weighing over 310 pounds.
But what Baylor’s Kalon Barnes and Texas-San Antonio’s Tariq Woolen did Sunday was in a class all their own. Woolen ran his 40 in 4.26 seconds, which was the third-fastest 40-yard dash of all-time, at all positions. But he soon was knocked into fourth place, as Barnes came within a tenth of a second of tying John Ross’ all-time record, posting a 4.23 for the second-fastest run in Combine history.
Woolen is a converted wide receiver, so perhaps his number isn’t a total shock, but it certainly got him noticed, and a 42-inch vertical only cemented his extraordinary day. Woolen was projected before the Combine as a third-round selection in the draft, but his stock will certainly be on the rise after Sunday’s performance.
But the big winner with his record run is Barnes, who was not expected to hear his name on Day 3 of the draft, but now has a chance to crack the late rounds.
Sauce was special on Sunday with a terrific all-around day
Ahmad Gardner has one of the best nicknames in college football. “Sauce” also has a chance to make a big name for himself at the next level. The Cincinnati defensive back had arguably the best all-around day on Sunday, clocking in with a solid 4.41 in the 40 and impressing in drills, showing off lateral moves and backpedaling despite his height at 6-3. His wingspan of just over 79 inches is a coach’s dream.
Gardner has been a top-10 pick in mock drafts consistently since the end of the college season and he did nothing on Sunday to change that trajectory. It is likely Gardner is the first cornerback selected in late April.
Hamilton takes his shot, solidifies his draft position as the top safety
If Sauce Gardner is the consensus top cornerback in the draft, then Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton is the top safety, expected to go as high as No. 3 to the Houston Texans.
Hamilton did not join in the fun on Sunday in terms of his 40 time, running a 4.59 that, by comparison, seemed disappointing. But he posted a 38-inch vertical leap and had a broad jump of an inch shy of 11 feet, displaying the kind of athleticism that makes him a top-5 prospect.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference