Two of the favorites to go No. 2 in April’s NFL draft to the Detroit Lions had strong showings in the 40-yard dash Saturday at the NFL combine.
Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux ran a 4.58-second 40, sixth fastest among defensive ends, while Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson ran a 4.74-second 40, 11th fastest in his position group.
Both players had identical 10-yard splits — the more important number for pass rushers —> unofficially of 1.62 seconds.
Hutchinson finished his day with a strong showing in position and explosion drills, while Thibodeaux did not take part in other field work after indicating he would earlier in the week.
Hutchinson, who had 14 sacks to lead Michigan to the college football playoffs last season, posted a 36-inch vertical jump and 9-foot, 9-inch broad jump.
NFL Network reported that Thibodeaux, who tried to quell concerns about his effort in his media interview session Friday, opted out of position drills because of “how long the day was” with a break between linebacker and defensive line work. Thibodeaux plans to do position drills at linebacker and defensive line at Oregon’s pro day, the network reported.
The Lions are badly in need of pass rush help after finishing 27th in sack percentage last season, and with sack-leader Charles Harris slated for free agency later this month and Romeo Okwara returning from a ruptured Achilles tendon.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have the first pick in the draft, but could opt for an offensive lineman, which would leave the Lions their pick of Hutchinson, Thibodeaux or perhaps Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker.
Walker outshined Hutchinson and Thibodeaux in Saturday’s testing, running a lightning-fast 4.51-second 40, third fastest among linemen, and posting a 10-3 broad jump and 35.5-inch vertical at 6 feet 5 and 272 pounds.
Walker had six sacks while starting at defensive tackle for Georgia’s national championship defense, but has position flexibility to play edge and inside in the NFL.
The Lions are transitioning their defense to more of a four-down lineman look this fall.
Michigan’s David Ojabo ran a 4.55-second 40, and Georgia nose tackle Jordan Davis blazed an impressive 4.78-second 40 and broad jumped 10 feet, 3 inches at 6 feet 6 and 341 pounds.
According to NFL Network, Davis had the fastest 40 time by any player 300 pounds or heavier since 2003.