The defensive lineman and linebackers in this year’s NFL draft class put on an athletic show Sunday, but none more so than Montez Sweat in the 40-yard dash.
One of the deepest, if not the deepest and best, position groups in this year’s NFL draft is the defensive line. Top prospects like Nick Bosa, Josh Allen, Ed Oliver and Rashan Gary were on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Sunday, and some of the workout numbers were staggering for men that size. But Mississippi State edge rusher Montez Sweat was the star in one particular drill.
Sweat measured out at just under 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds earlier in the week. Since defensive lineman don’t run 40 yards in a straight line often, 10-yard splits are given value as a way to evaluate explosion off the ball when they run the 40-yard dash at the combine.Sweat did well by that measure, at 1.50 or 1.55 depending on who the source is.
But his official 40-time was without debate.
That 4.41 40 is a modern record for a defensive lineman at the combine (since 2003). For more context, that time would have tied for eighth-best among this year’s wide receivers and only two running backs ran the 40 faster this year than Sweat.
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham ran a 4.43 40 in 2014, and Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott posted a 4.47 in 2016. Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen, pushing 100 pounds lighter that Sweat (179 pounds) and with speed as the core of his game, ran a 4.42 40 in 2017.
The best player comp for Sweat is Houston Texans edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney. Here’s the simulcam overlay of Sweat’s 40-yard dash on Clowney’s 4.53-second run in 2014.
Sweat put up a solid 21 bench press reps, registered a 36-inch vertical (tied for sixth among edge rushers), with 10-1/2-inch hands and his arms measured 35-3/4 inches.
Sweat barely played as a freshman at Michigan State, then was suspended for most of the 2015 season due to an undisclosed incident before transferring to a junior college and landing at Mississippi State in 2017. But any concerns he’s just a workout warrior can be set aside, with the 22.5 sacks and 30 tackles for loss he tallied over his final two collegiate seasons. Pro Football Focus also graded him out well for his work in 2018.
After a good week in Indianapolis, highlighted by a memorable run in the 40, Sweat has put himself in the conversation to be a top-10 pick in April’s draft.