Miami Dolphins

Surprising times put wide receivers on fast track

 

abeasley@MiamiHerald.com

How fast can perceptions change? In less than 4.4 seconds.

A receiving class seen as deep but not necessarily elite gave reason for revision Sunday with a series of blistering 40-yard dash times at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Tavon Austin and Marquise Goodwin both posted blazing 40 times — putting a scare into Chris Johnson’s Combine record (4.24 seconds) from 2008. Goodwin clocked in officially at 4.27, while Austin and Ryan Swope both ran a 4.34.

West Virginia’s Austin earlier this week labeled himself “the all-around best player in the draft.” Goodwin is an Olympic long jumper who was a star sprinter at the University of Texas.

“What it does for [Austin] is the worst-case [scenario] to me is a second-round pick,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. “If you buy into him as a route-runner, and toughness, and you can get enough touches every game for him, he might be a first-round pick.”

In all, five prospects ran sub-4.4 times — considered the benchmark for elite. TCU’s Josh Boyce and Oklahoma’s Kenny Stills were the others.

By way of comparison, Mike Wallace — the pending Steeler free agent and likely Dolphins target — ran a 4.33 40 when he entered the draft. If 4.33 speed can take the top off a defense, 4.27 surely can too.

Cordarrelle Patterson, the consensus No. 1 receiver in this year’s draft, only strengthened his hold on that spot by running a 4.42 — the sixth-fastest time of the day. Many mock drafts have him going to Miami at 12, but with a monster showing in Indy, the Dolphins could have to trade into the top 10 to get him.

“He’s a height-weight speed freak,” Mayock said, before adding that Patterson has top 10-pick talent, but needs to sell teams on drafting him there because he played just one year at the FBS level.

Of all the times run, Swope’s was probably the most surprising. Draft analysts questioned his straight-line speed and acceleration beforehand. Mayock didn’t even have him listed as one of his five best receivers in this year’s draft before this weekend.

“I love to see that,” Mayock added. “When you see a guy who you don’t expect to run mid-4.3s, it forces you to go back and watch tape, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Swope would be an intriguing option, considering his history with Ryan Tannehill. They played together at Texas A&M, with Swope catching 89 passes for 1,207 yards and 11 touchdowns Tannehill’s senior year.

“That would be cool,” Swope said, when asked about a potential reunion. “That chemistry that me and Ryan had was special.”

The biggest loser on this day might have been Keenan Allen — who didn’t even run. Allen, a potential first-round pick from California, has battled a knee injury that kept him out of drills at the Combine and was the forgotten man Sunday.

• Few have had a rise as rapid in the last month as FIU safety Johnathan Cyprien, who parlayed a strong Senior Bowl into potential second-round draft status.

“They’re projections right now,” Cyprien said. “If I keep humbling myself and putting God first and keep doing what I’ve been doing, hopefully the end will a time for me to pinch myself.”

Cyprien has been invited to participate in the Dolphins’ local prospect day, but said he has to discuss it with agent Drew Rosenhaus before deciding to participate.

• Former LSU corner Tyrann Mathieu called his fall from grace “humiliating” Sunday, but told reporters that he has not used an illegal substance since Oct. 26 of last year. Mathieu, kicked out of school for repeated drug use, said he expected teams to grill him on his past indiscretions this week.

“My best friend right now is honesty,” Mathieu said.

• Alabama cornerback and potential Dolphins target Dee Milliner said he will undergo surgery on his torn labrum March 12. The expected recovery time is two months.

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