Only two pass catchers ran in the 4.3-range this year – Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks (4.33) and Pittsburgh State’s John Brown (4.34) -- but this year’s crop of receivers is considered far more talented and much deeper across the board.
A 40-yard dash time isn’t the end-all-be-all in the evaluation of a receiving prospect, but it is an important tool in evaluating a receivers ability to get on top of a defender and stretch the field.
“We’re going to be looking for receivers that can win one-on-one battles, win one-on-one matchups and make plays down the field,” Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said at the Combine of the kind of receivers he’s looking for to reshape the receiving corps with.
This group of receivers is so talented there could potentially be eight or nine players taken in the first round. In all, 20 receivers ran in the 4.4- or 4.3-seconds range in the 40 at this year's Combine. that number was 14 last year.
The top receiver in the group, Sammy Watkins, was officially clocked at 4.43 after running unofficial times of 4.34 and 4.37. He cemented his stature as the No. 1 receiver available with that time, his subsequent workout and his game film.
Texas A&M’s Mike Evans wasn’t one of the blazers in the 40, but his unofficial time of 4.47 and official 4.53 was very solid for a man 6-foot-5 and 231 pounds.
There are plenty of fast receivers in this draft and an ample amount of big ones, too. At No. 10, the Lions will have options.
“There are a lot of different ways to go about it,” Mayhew said. “One way to look at it is we have a big receiver in Calvin (Johnson), lets get a smaller guy who can run routes and get open and slide into the slot on third downs.
“Another way to look at is what Chicago did with two big guys (Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery). So it really can go either way. It's kind of who you can get.”
The big question is whether the Lions look to “get” their man at No. 10 or a little later on.