The NFL Combine is all about prospects running fast and jumping high in order to try to increase their draft stock in any way they can before teams start picking players on Apr. 27. It’s usually filled with surprising performances and viral moments as the best college athletes all converge to participate in various feats of strength, and this year we got a major moment right away.
On the first day of drills at Indianapolis, Pittsburgh defensive tackle Calijah Kancey ran the fastest 40-yard dash by a DT since 2003.
It’s important not to be swayed too much by results at the Combine, which is sometimes unlovingly referred to as the Underwear Olympics. That’s because guys running around in shorts doesn’t always translate to real football. But when an evaluation of two players is very close, an impressive 40 time like Kancey’s could tip the scales in the scouting department.
RELATED: Anderson's Bosa-like potential something Bears desperately need
Kancey’s performance is perhaps more enticing, because it outpaced Aaron Donald’sー a fellow Pittsburgh Panthers alumー 40-yard dash back in 2014. Kancey beat Donald by .01 seconds: 4.67 to 4.68.
Kancey has drawn comparisons to Donald throughout the predraft process. It’s unfair considering Donald has been the best defensive player in the NFL for his entire nine-year career, but it’s understandable. As mentioned above, they’re both superfast defensive tackles from Pitt. They’re both considered small for interior defensive linemen, at just 280 pounds instead of the more typical 300 pounds or so. Both won ACC Defensive Player of the Year at school. But the production between the two is where things start to differ. Donald racked up 29.5 sacks and 66 TFLs in four seasons at Pitt. Kancey had just 16 and 34.5.
Donald was drafted by the Rams with the No. 13 overall pick in the draft, just one spot before the Bears who landed Kyle Fuller. The Bears were reportedly interested in Donald back in 2014, and they’re back in the market for defensive linemen this year. Will they make up for missing Donald back then by drafting Kancey? Or will Thursday’s speedy 40-yard dash push Kancey up draft boards and out of the Bears’ grasp again?