The most important 40-yard time of any prospect at any pro day across the nation is in, and the results won't do anything to prevent the speculation that Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins is going to have to move to safety in the NFL.
Jenkins' 40-yard times at Ohio State's pro day on Friday were between 4.52 seconds and 4.56 seconds, free agent defensive tackle John Thornton told Packer Report. Thornton, an 11-year pro who spent the last six seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, runs AllProBlogger.com and had someone at the workout timing the players.
Jenkins' times were only slightly faster than his performance last month at the Scouting Combine. Ohio State is renowned for having a fast track, with Joey Galloway once clocking a 4.19 at the Woody Hayes Center. Plus, the runs were hand timed, and that can add two-tenths of a second to a player's result.
Thornton, who is one of many insiders who have Jenkins going to the Packers in their mock drafts, explained what all of this means for the player who won the Jim Thorpe Award as college football's top cornerback.
"He will be fine. Just not a top speed guy," he said in an e-mail. "Playmaker. Can be No. 2 corner but not a lockdown guy. If a team has two corners already then he can move to safety (free). Hips a little stiff, that's why teams think he will eventually go to FS. He will be better than Antrel Rolle who did the same thing."
Added Scout.com draft expert Chris Steuber: "I don't think it will hurt him too much. He's still a talented player. I think he can play CB at the next level, but he will get looks at FS because of his physical play."
The question is, would the Packers — who were in attendance at Friday's workout — spend the ninth pick on a player who might not be fast enough to be an upper-echelon cornerback?
Historically, safeties aren't considered first-round picks, much less top-10 selections. The first safety drafted last year was Kenny Phillips at No. 31 by the Giants. Washington chose LaRon Landry at No. 6 in 2007, and the Raiders took Michael Huff at No. 7 and the Bills took Donte Whitner at No. 8 in 2006, but no safeties went in the first round in 2005. In all, safeties went in the first round of the last 10 drafts, including the late Sean Taylor in 2004, Troy Polamalu in 2003 and Ed Reed in 2002.
Jenkins, who measured 6-foot and 204 pounds at the Combine, was a four-year starter and a three-time all-Big Ten first-team selection for the Buckeyes. Jenkins, who finished with 11 career interceptions, told reporters in Indianapolis that his film should speak louder than his 40-yard timing in shorts.
"If you watch my film, I might not look as fast as some other guys," Jenkins said last month. "It's funny to me, because you play and you have four years of film on you, and you're playing corner and you think you're doing well, and none of that means anything. Everybody has something to prove."
Another Buckeye working out on Friday was running back Chris Wells, who ran a 4.40 40-yard dash. That's much faster than his 4.61 at the Combine but is in line with the two-tenths bias on hand timing.
Others were linebackers James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman, towering offensive tackle Alex Boone (6-foot-8, 312) and big receiver Brian Robiskie (6-3, 207). Freeman, a 6-1, 235-pounder who is Scout.com's sixth-ranked outside linebacker prospect, met with the Packers at the Combine. His 40 time on Friday was 4.48 seconds.
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Lambeau Level forum. Bill also is giving Twitter a try. Find him at twitter.com/packerreport