Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson has held the record in the 40-yard dash for five years after he finished the sprint in 4.24 seconds at the 2008 NFL Combine. However, Texas' Marquise Goodwin and West Virginia's Tavon Austin came as close to knocking him from his throne as possible, as the pair or speedy receivers each finished with unofficial times of 4.25 at the 2013 NFL Combine on Sunday.
While the electronic times will determine their places in the record books, Goodwin and Austin -- 4.27 and 4.34 officially -- each displayed an elite, top-end speed that will make them attractive prospects for teams. However, the blazing time certainly helped Austin more than it did Goodwin.
In his senior season with the Mountaineers, Austin finished with 2,917 all-purpose yards and 17 total touchdowns as a dynamic playmaker who contributed as a receiver, running back, kick returner and punt returner. Goodwin, on the other hand, finished with 25 receptions and a total of 807 yards of total offense during his final season with the Longhorns. An Olympic long-jumper, Goodwin entered the combine as a track star that everyone expected to finish with impressive numbers.
While clearly a terrific athlete with elite agility, Austin was projected by most to finish with a 40-yard dash time between 4.4-4.5. On Friday, Austin met with the media and told them he had goals for himself, but he wasn't unrealistic about his chances. "Anything under a 4.4," he said. "I'm trying to run at 4.3 or maybe 4.2."
Goodwin sounded much more confident during his media session on Friday, telling reporters "I want to run fastest ever, that is my goal."
Ultimately, what the pair of extremely fast times did was prove that Austin has an elite second gear that will make him a valuable draft prospect and simply validate what everyone already knew about Goodwin.
The 40-yard dash time will help bolster Austin's draft stock and puts him in contention with California's Keenan Allen and Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson to be the first wide receiver off the board. Among the neediest teams at the position that could make for a landing spot for Austin in the first round are the Miami Dolphins at pick 12, the Carolina Panthers at pick 14 and the St. Louis Rams at picks 16 and 22.
Goodwin though is very unlikely to come off the board in the first day and may fall out of the second day as well. Where Austin matched his athleticism and potential with collegiate production, Goodwin is simply a prospect with plenty of athletic potential. Certainly he has enough potential to woo a team into using a third or fourth round selection, but it's hard to justify much more.
The 2013 NFL Draft is scheduled to begin on Thursday, April 25 and run through Saturday, April 27.