David Wilson, Danny Coale and Jarret Boykin each worked out in front of NFL coaches, scouts and general managers Sunday at the NFL combine. Wilson had the most impressive day of the trio. The low point of his afternoon, and that's relative to an otherwise outstanding day, was posting a 4.49 40-yard-dash time (7th best among running backs). Many Hokies were expecting faster, Wilson ran a 4.29 40 last February during winter max testing. But keep in mind, that was clocked on a Tech watch, and speed coming out of a sprinter's stance doesn't accurately model speed in full pads on a football field. With that said, Wilson had the highest vertical jump of all the running backs (second overall), a freakish 41 inches. Wilson was also top among backs in the broad jump. He leapt 132 inches, 9 better than the next closest back and only an inch less than the top jump of the day. Enough numbers, he also passed the eye test of the experts.
"More I read and look at all these numbers, David Wilson absolutely blew up the Combine. Can downplay that, but he's a really good back too." -- Evan Silva, PFT
"Wilson was another who had a fast start to the day, posting 40 times in the mid-4.4 second area. His speed was apparent in all the drills as Wilson showed a tremendous burst and the ability to turn it on in a single step. His pass-catching skills were the surprise of the afternoon. Wilson ran terrific routes, showed soft hands and did a great job catching the deep ball." Tony Pauline, SI
"#VaTech RB David Wilson just continues to look really comfortable as a pass catcher and route runner. Looks the part of a 3-down NFL RB." -- Dion Caputi, NationalFootballPost
However, scouts and NFL decision makers are aware of what Wilson needs to improve on.
Wilson relied heavily on his athletic ability in college and runs with a very unconventional style that could get him in trouble at the next level against top athletes. He will allow his pad level to get high when changing directions downfield, and he will get caught off guard with that style at the next level. He isn't content enough with a 2-to-3-yard gain and will revert cross-field to try and make a play out of nothing, another habit that simply won't end well in most cases in the NFL. He needs to be more patient to let the plays and blocks come to him and play within a scheme, rather than try to make everything happen on his own each time he gets the ball.
(That reads like a French critique.) At the end of the day, Wilson certainly helped his draft stock.
Danny Coale is another Hokie who helped his draft day cause. Coale ran a 4.5 40 and did what he did for four seasons at Tech, got open (OK by default) and caught balls. Russ Lande of the Sporting News raved about Coale's performance.
He's quick to become a runner after the catch and showed a burst to separate coming out of his breaks. He has the size (6-foot, 201), quickness and route-running skills to play either on the outside or inside as a slot receiver at the next level.
After a highly productive career with the Hokies under several different quarterbacks, Coale came to Indianapolis with a solid middle-round draft grade by many scouts.
Now after a strong performance at the Combine where he ran the 40 in the low 4.4s Coale will climb up draft boards, possibly into the second or third round.
Fellow receiver Jarrett Boykin did not have as stellar a workout. His 4.74 40 was worst among receivers and he dropped some balls. He finished in the middle to bottom of the other tests, except the 60-yard shuttle where a time of 11.22 seconds was good for 4th best for receivers. Boykin's combine performance won't define his potential, his body of work as Tech's all-time receiver speaks for itself, but a solid performance at Virginia Tech's Pro Day will help him move in a positive direction.