The 40-yard dash may not be the best way to measure the agility or athleticism of a player who usually does his work in a 10-yard radius, nor is it the preferred drill for the largest humans competing at this week’s NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
But it’s still an important barometer for the offensive line position, and it was another way for Washington State’s Andre Dillard to separate himself from the crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Only three of the 38 offensive linemen who participated Friday afternoon chewed up 40 yards quicker than Dillard, who turned in a time of 4.96 seconds on his second attempt after recording a 4.99 on his first try. Texas A&M center Erik McCoy (4.89), Boston College guard Chris Lindstrom (4.91) and North Carolina State guard Garrett Bradbury (4.92) all finished with faster 40 times, but Dillard clocked the best time by an offensive tackle at the combine.
“That number will work for me, for Dillard,” NFL Networks analyst Daniel Jeremiah said on the live broadcast after Dillard’s first run. “Look at him and look at his body, Rich (Eisen), he came out of high school at 240 pounds.”
After the second attempt, Jeremiah noted: “To me, he’s the best pass protector in the entire draft, and sub-5 is a great number.”
Widely regarded by analysts, experts and writers as the top offensive tackle prospect in the upcoming NFL Draft, Dillard backed up those assertions by posting impressive marks in the other on-field drills he was put through.
He had the top broad jump of an offensive lineman, leaping 118 inches. He produced the top 20-yard shuttle time, completing the drill in 4.4 seconds. Dillard also fared well in the three-cone drill, with a time of 7.44 seconds that placed him second.
Dillard participated in the bench press on Thursday, lifting the 225-pound barbell 24 times for a middle-of-the-pack finish among the 46 other O-linemen.
The Athletic’s Dane Brugler tabbed Dillard as one of the top OL performers on Friday, writing, “There were high expectations for Dillard this week, and he either met or exceeded them Friday. He looked outstanding in pass protection drills – quick pitter-patter feet and easy lower body movements.
“(He) has the best feet among the offensive linemen in this draft with outstanding lower body flexibility, which could push his draft value in the top half of round one.”
Dillard’s Washington State teammate, running back James Williams, also cycled through the on-field tests, posting some impressive numbers along the way.
Williams’ 40-yard dash time of 4.58 seconds finished in the bottom half of the running back group, but he excelled in a few of the other drills, with top-five marks in the vertical jump (36.5 inches, fifth), three-cone drill (7.01 seconds, fourth) and 20-yard shuttle (4.25 seconds, fourth). Williams didn’t participate in the bench press Thursday due to a shoulder sprain.
WSU quarterback Gardner Minshew went through interviews, team meetings and psychological testing and will complete his on-field drills, including a throwing session on Saturday.
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