Tide’s Ruggs just misses 40 record, blazes 4.27


INDIANAPOLIS — Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III flashed rare speed at the NFL’s scouting combine Thursday night, but he didn’t quite get the record he had hoped for at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Ruggs, considered one of the fastest players available in this year’s draft, said this week he wanted to set the record for the 40-yard dash at the event.

He officially ran 4.27 in his first attempt at the 40, and followed with an unofficial 4.31.

Elite speed to be sure, but not good enough for the crown.

Former University of Washington wide receiver John Ross, currently with the Cincinnati Bengals, ran a 4.22-second 40-yard dash in 2017, which is considered the record in the combine’s electronic timing format that began in 1999. Bo Jackson’s hand-timed 4.12 in 1986 has long been considered the best combine 40 time.

Asked Tuesday what his goal was in his on-field workout, Ruggs said: “I’m trying to hit the lowest ever. So 4.22 or lower.”

Ruggs was also asked this week what his fastest 40 time had been in his predraft workouts, but he said he didn’t want to know.

“I actually didn’t ask for the times,” Ruggs said. “Whenever I ran them, I ran on feel. So if it felt good, I went back to the coach and asked him, ‘Did it look good?'”

Ruggs did not participate in the remainder of Thursday’s drills and was seen icing his upper right quad after the 40. He told NFL Network that he expects to be ready for Alabama’s pro day on March 24.

Record or not, Ruggs’ speed was certainly noticed by the league’s talent evaluators. He also posted a 42-inch vertical jump earlier in the evening, making him the only player since 2006 to produce a vertical jump of at least 40 inches and a sub-4.3 40-yard dash, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper has Ruggs going 22nd to the Bills in his latest mock draft, while Todd McShay has him going 21st to the Eagles.

Ruggs finished this past season with 40 receptions for 746 yards and seven touchdowns, playing alongside Crimson Tide teammate Jerry Jeudy, also one of the top-rated wide receivers in this draft. Ruggs averaged 18.7 yards per catch and finished his three seasons at Alabama with a career average of 17.5 yards per catch.

He finished with 24 touchdowns on 98 career receptions — 24.5% of his catches. Both Ruggs and Jeudy are expected to be first-round picks.

Ruggs measured in at 5-foot-11 and weighed 188 pounds at the combine, and said he believes he could have a similar impact as Tyreek Hill has had for the Chiefs.

“He’s not the biggest guy,” Ruggs said. “So him being in that offense and making the plays that he’s making, doing the things that he does, it gives me more confidence to show that anybody can do anything.”

A deep group of wide receivers showed off their speed as both Texas’ Devin Duvernay and Memphis’ Antonio Gibson had official clockings of 4.39 seconds.

Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool, who some teams see as a potential tight end because he measured and weighed 6-4½, 238, turned heads with a 4.42 showing. It made Claypool the first receiver since Calvin Johnson at the 2007 combine to weigh at least 230 pounds and run a sub-4.45 40.

LSU’s Justin Jefferson, who finished this past season with 111 catches for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns, also showed better speed than expected with a 4.43. The two wide receivers on the board, Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb, had official clockings of 4.45 and 4.50, respectively.

Clemson‘s Tee Higgins, a projected first-rounder, chose to skip Thursday’s on-field drills.

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