INDIANAPOLIS - Before the combine, NFL scouts considered Chris Johnson their diamond in the rough. A running back out of East Carolina, Johnson possessed immeasurable athleticism and speed. (
**Click here** for an early scouting report on Johnson from the Senior Bowl)
Not anymore. Johnson was clocked in the 40-yard dash at a blistering 4.24 seconds, ranking as the best 40 time at the combine this year.
The 5-11, 195-pound prospect, who was thought to be a late second-round pick, now has landed on every team's draft radar. Not only is Johnson fast, he knows how to use his speed, moving with great footwork. He can make catches out of the backfield and he can return punts and kicks, too.
"I feel like I play like a Brian Westbrook," Johnson said. "I catch a lot of balls in the backfield. I feel that I can be a Brian Westbrook type of player."
Including Johnson, four running backs posted 40-yard times better than 4.4 seconds. All eyes were on Darren McFadden, who finished with the second-fastest time at 4.33. The performance had coaches saying McFadden was the best of the 334 players invited to Indianapolis.
The Arkansas product proved in college that he possesses the instincts and vision to play at the highest level, setting a Southeastern Conference single-season record with 2,172 all-purpose yards. At the combine, McFadden (6-1, 211) showed he has speed and strength.
"I feel like I'm a tough guy," McFadden said. "You could have me in on the first down or you could have me in on fourth-and-one. I can get long yards for you or I can get short yards for you."
Anthony Alridge (5-9, 174) of Houston finished with a 4.36 and Jamaal Charles (6-1, 200) of Texas ran a 4.38. Alridge is considered to be undersized for the NFL, but a fast time certainly will help his draft stock. Charles' sprinting ability could push him past Rutgers' Ray Rice as a top-five ball carrier.
Rashard Mendenhall (5-11, 210) of Illinois clocked in at 4.45, Felix Jones (6-0, 200) of Arkansas at 4.47 and Jonathan Stewart (5-11, 235) of Oregon at 4.48.
Running Back Test Results
Top five 40-yard dash times (seconds)
1. Chris Johnson, East Carolina (4.24)
2. Darren McFadden, Arkansas (4.33)
3. Anthony Alridge, Houston (4.36)
4. Jamaal Charles, Texas (4.38)
Top five 20-yard dash times (seconds)
1. Chris Johnson, East Carolina (2.41)
2. Darren McFadden, Arkansas (2.53)
3. Anthony Alridge, Houston (2.54)
4. Jalen Parmele, Toledo (2.54)
Top five bench press results (reps at 225 lbs)
1. Carl Stewart, Auburn (30)
2. Jerome Felton, Furman (30)
3. Jonathan Stewart, Oregon (28)
4. Justin Forsett California (26)