Aaron Maybin ran fast on Wednesday. So fast that he might have run himself into consideration to be being a top-10 pick in next month's draft.
With the Green Bay Packers in attendance at Penn State's pro day, the defensive end-outside linebacker hybrid ran his 40-yard dash in a range of 4.53 to 4.59 seconds, according to media reports and a Packer Report source who was at the workout.
Maybin's athleticism, pass-rushing production and ability to improve with experience make him a real possibility when Green Bay is on the clock at No. 9 overall.
At the Scouting Combine last month, Maybin was clocked at 4.78 seconds, so Maybin was about one-quarter of a second faster than he was in Indianapolis.
"Aaron Maybin is a freak of nature," his agent, Chaife Fields, told reporters at the workout, adding that he's sure Maybin is a top-10 prospect.
The freakish 40 is a shot in the arm after his stock was said to be falling following the Combine. Maybin was a dominant force as a redshirt sophomore last season. Playing as a 230-pound defensive end, Maybin finished seventh in the nation with 12 sacks and added 20 tackles for loss en route to being a first-team All-American.
That's too small to be effective in the NFL, so Maybin bulked up this offseason. He was at 249 pounds at the Combine, but his slow 40 led some insiders to wonder whether bigger was really better.
Those questions should be answered now with his eye-opening 40, along with improvements in the broad jump (from 10 feet, 4 inches to 10 feet, 10 inches) and vertical jump (38 inches to 40 inches) while weighing 253.
"It was a good day," Maybin told reporters. "I know my athletic ability and I know what I'm capable of. I put some numbers on the board that are indicative of the kind of player I am."
Maybin's fate — and weight — depends heavily on who's doing the picking.
His new physique is the ideal for a 3-4 outside linebacker. Of the 3-4 teams, the Packers pick at No. 9, San Francisco at No. 10 and Denver at No. 12. All three need impact players on defense. A 4-3 team in dire need of a pass rusher, Buffalo, is sandwiched in there at No. 11. He'll probably to add another 10 pounds to be effective in that scheme.
Another issue that scouts and general managers are grappling with is Maybin's inexperience. He wasn't even a starter to open last season and played just two seasons for the Nittany Lions.
So, there's not an abundance of tape on Maybin, a problem exacerbated for the 3-4 teams, which must guess how an undersized defensive end will project to outside linebacker. For instance, Vernon Gholston, the sixth overall pick last year by the Jets, barely got on the field as he made the move from defensive end at Ohio State to outside linebacker for New York.
"What you have to evaluate is, can they be a space player? Can they drop? Can they cover somebody? Can they understand the concepts?" Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said at the Combine. "In our league, you can't just put your hand down and rush every time, because if you do, they'll figure out a way to block you."
Maybin's upside might be too difficult to overlook for general manager Ted Thompson, who has said this first-round pick doesn't necessarily have to be a major contributor right away. Maybin might be raw, but the Packers could get by for awhile with him rushing the passer and Brandon Chillar handling the running downs.
Maybin is ready for the challenge.
"Basically, I see it as I'm going into this thing as an athlete," he said at the Combine. "My job is to prepare myself physically and mentally for what it is I'm going to face once I get drafted. Then, once we know the scheme, I'm moving into we'll move forward from there."
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, 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