On Day 1 of the NFL Combine, Wendell Smallwood became No. 1, himself.
The former West Virginia football player had the top cone time off all running backs in Indianapolis. Smallwood clocked in at 6.83 seconds. He beat out Shad Thornton (6.85) of North Carolina State and Kenneth Dixon (6.97) of Louisiana Tech.
Smallwood also thrived in the “find the ball” drill, where players are tasked with catching a football while shuffling side-to-side.
Ever since he was in high school, Smallwood displayed big-time talent.
He wasn’t the speediest on the field at WVU, but showcasing his speed at the Combine is the best thing he could do to boost his draft stock.
According to ESPN, Smallwood runs the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds.
Early projections list Smallwood as a sixth round pick. After picking up the rave reviews he did on Friday in Indianapolis, it’s safe to say he has a better chance of being picked up much earlier.
"“Smallwood has somewhat of a ‘tweener frame, lacking the ideal build of a running back or the height or strength of a receiver, but he uses his athletic gifts to be a home-run threat any time he touches the ball,” said Rob Rang of CBSsports. “He has terrific speed and acceleration to erase defender angles and although he lacks an ideal identity as a pro prospect, Smallwood is simply a playmaker who grabs your eye.”"
Smallwood led the Big 12 last season with 1,519 rushing yards. It was a big surprise for most college football enthusiasts because its rare for a running back in a Dana Holgorsen-led team to put up those kind of numbers. The 2015 season was somewhat of an unconventional year for Holgorsen and the Mountaineers as the team strayed away from the “air raid” attack on offense. WVU focused on becoming a running team and that tactic worked with Smallwood in the backfield.
That, too, could help his draft stock. When Smallwood was brought in to the WVU program in 2013, the Mountaineers were establishing themselves as a top flight passing team in the Big 12. He would’ve been brought in to be the second option in the offense.
Last season, Smallwood helped revolutionize the WVU offense in a new way. He had to adapt his own game by getting more carries and extending the field.
He filled his role perfectly and can do the same for a team in the NFL.