Former Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson's 4.64 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine was better than the times of some of the most highly regarded NFL draft prospects at the position, including Mississippi State's Benardrick McKinney and Miami's Denzel Perryman. But at just 228 pounds, and with an undercurrent of opinion that his NFL position needs to be strong safety, Thompson can't afford to rest on a clocking in the mid-4.6 range.
Nor will he.
"I was shocked by my time," Thompson said in a pre-draft diary entry for USA Today. "The unofficial 4.72 didn't make sense. I know I'm faster than a 4.6 -- it's just the little errors that I had in the first 10 yards. That's what really messed me up.
If Thompson turns in a sub-4.6 time at Washington's pro day April 2, it could help convince NFL personnel executives that he could make a transition to safety. And even for those who see him as a linebacker, his primary position in college, a clocking in the 4.5's wouldn't hurt. Only five linebackers at the combine did so.
If last year's pro day times are any indication, Thompson is making the right move. In the first notable pro day event after the combine last year, Buffalo linebacker Khalil Macktrimmed his 40 time one-tenth of a second, from 4.65 to 4.55, helping to cement his status as an eventual top-five pick. UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr's pro day 40 time was better than his combine time by such a vast margin, it was almost hard to believe. But the Vikings believed enough to make him the No. 9 pick.
They weren't the only ones.
LSU running back Jeremy Hill ran a 4.66 at the combine and turned in a 4.53 at his pro day; he became the second running back chosen in the draft, at No. 55 by the Cincinnati Bengals. Penn State receiver Allen Robinsontrimmed his time significantly as well. And while Ohio State's Ryan Shazier didn't run a 40 at the combine, who can forget the blistering sub-4.4 time he ran at the Buckeyes pro day?
Thompson's decision is any easy one. Especially if home-campus advantage is worth a tenth of a second or more.