tied for the West Virginia team lead with 114 receptions last season. (Ben Liebenberg/AP)
INDIANAPOLIS -- Texas receiver Marquise Goodwin said Friday that he had plans to break Chris Johnson's scouting combine-record 40-yard-dash time of 4.24. He, as well as West Virginia's Tavon Austin, came within an eyelash of doing just that.
Austin was the first player to run the 40 on Sunday, and he clocked in at an eye-popping 4.25. Moments later, Goodwin matched that mark. Goodwin got the best of the pair's second runs, posting a 4.29 to Austin's 4.31. Those numbers rose after they were made official -- Goodwin's best mark was 4.27, Austin's 4.34 (Texas A&M's Ryan Swope also ran a 4.34).
"I want to run the fastest ever," Goodwin said earlier this week. "That is my goal."
Said Austin: "I’m trying to run at 4.3 or maybe 4.2."
The importance of 40 times on a player's draft stock is a debate that occurs every offseason following the combine. The general consensus: Those times are mostly negligible for positions like offensive guard (Chance Warmack, still considered an elite option, posted a lumbering 5.49), but often a critical measure for spots like wide receiver and running back.
That said, everyone knew that Goodwin, a track star at Texas and member of the 2012 United States' Olympic team, had wheels. Austin's nearly record-setting time came as a bit more of a surprise -- most expected him to land somewhere at about 4.3.
Assuming Austin follows up that 40 with a strong performance in the rest of his combine drills, the 5-foot-8 athlete might solidify a spot in Round 1 of the draft. His game took off in Dana Holgorsen's offense -- he had 101 catches in 2011, then topped that with 114 in 2012. Counting the return game, Austin recorded a whopping 2,910 total yards last season.
Austin already is being suggested as a possible replacement for pending free agent Wes Welker in New England, which should offer an indication of his current reputation. In light of his blazing 40 performance, though, it looks less likely than ever that Austin will still be on the board come the Patriots' pick at No. 29.
Goodwin, on the other hand, could linger into Round 3 or beyond. His case will be one of the more interesting in the draft -- Goodwin's pure speed is undeniable, but he's a relatively unpolished receiver and may not be ready to make an every-down impact in the NFL.
But as the old saying goes: You can't teach speed. Austin and Goodwin clearly posses that trait, and Sunday's efforts will do nothing to dissuade teams from selecting them.