Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey ran the fastest 40-yard dash among wide receivers and running backs at the NFL scouting combine yesterday, perhaps securing a place in the first round of April's draft.
The Silver Spring native turned in a 4.30-second 40 to highlight the second day of combine drills at Lucas Oil Stadium. According to NFL Network, it tied the second-fastest 40 of the decade.
Heyward-Bey came into the combine with a second-round grade, but after a month at a training facility in Phoenix, he was more fluid and consistent in his route running and caught the ball well. At 6feet3, he weighed 210 pounds, about five more than he did at Maryland.
"He did great in the position drills, great in testing," said Ben Dogra, Heyward-Bey's agent. "He stepped up with flying colors in a pressure cooker at the highest level of competition.
"For him to step up in this environment was a big testament to him wanting to be the best."
As much as Heyward-Bey's 40 time opened eyes, he got the NFL's attention with a solid performance in the wide receiver drills.
"That was equally important, if not more important," Dogra said. "But it's still very early. There's two months left [until the draft], and we've got a lot of work to do."
Heyward-Bey, who left Maryland after his junior season, returned to Phoenix last night to resume training. Dogra said Heyward-Bey would not run another 40 at his pro day in College Park next month but will do position drills again and team interviews.
Team executives and scouts were buzzing about the speed that the whole class of receivers showed yesterday.
"This group ran amazingly well," Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian said. "There were 11 in the first group that ran a sub-4.5 and the same in the second group. That's a fast track [at Lucas Oil Stadium], and we've got a bunch of fast receivers. It's clearly a good group, very deep and very exciting."
Notes: Abilene Christian wide-out Johnny Knox posted the second-fastest 40, running a 4.34.
West Virginia quarterback Pat White declined to participate in the drills as a wide receiver and made the most of his opportunity yesterday. He ran a 4.49 and passed better than any other quarterback in the drills, according to NFLDraftScout.com. He is gaining momentum as a quarterback and is being viewed as the perfect player to run the "Wildcat" offense.
Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree did not run yesterday but said he intends to run at his pro day next month and then have surgery for his stress fracture on his left foot.
Maryland's Dan Gronkowski ran a 4.78 in the 40, one of the best times for tight ends.