Georgia’s Nolan Smith Steals the Show at the NFL Combine
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — One day after tearing up at the podium, edge rusher Nolan Smith turned heads on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf on Thursday.
The former Georgia star ran the fastest 40-yard dash by a defensive lineman, clocking 4.39 seconds. It was tied for the best of the day with linebacker Owen Pappoe, of Auburn, and was the second-fastest time from an edge rusher since 2003.
Amare Barno, of Virginia Tech, ran a 4.36 at last year’s NFL scouting combine. Ten players on the first day of workouts posted times under 4.5.
Linebackers and defensive linemen were the only players to do on-field drills Thursday and will finish their week with Friday’s bench press as defensive backs and special teamers take the field.
Smith, who checked in at 6-foot-2 and 238 pounds, was the star attraction.
He and Pappoe also shared top honors in the split (1.52 seconds) and Smith’s 41 1/2-inch vertical also was the best of the day — three inches ahead of linebacker Anfernee Orji, of Vanderbilt, and 3 1/2 inches ahead of the next closest defensive lineman.
Even when Smith wasn’t the leader, he was close. His 10 foot, 8-inch broad jump was tied for fourth on the day.
Smith’s college teammate, defensive tackle Jalen Carter, was back in Indianapolis after turning himself in to law enforcement for charges related to the fatal crash that killed offensive lineman Devin Willock and a recruiting staff member in January.
Smith was emotional Wednesday in his first public comments since Willock was died.
A day later, he was initially upset with his 40-yard dash, thinking he’d clocked something like 4.40. “I thought I didn’t run my fastest time,” he told the NFL Network. “I thought I had a little more juice, and I felt like I was going 85%.”
Told that his official time was 4.39, Smith said, “That made my day. That got me a little excited.”
When the NFL released its alphabetical list of combine invitees in late January, some readers might have thought there was a misprint near the bottom of the defensive linemen.
The successive lines read: Byron Young, Alabama and Byron Young, Tennessee.
It’s no mistake.
The former SEC players first met when they were both coming out of junior college. Naturally, it was because of a mix-up.
“Someone tagged me instead of tagging him, and I found out that it was another Byron Young,” the Volunteers alum said. “So, we just follow each other on Instagram and Twitter and stuff like that.”
As if seeing the names together wasn’t confusing enough, the two also have been preparing for the combine at the same training facility.
How can football fans separate them? Well, the Tennessee alum is an edge rusher and just finished the 40 in 4.43 seconds, the second-fastest 40 by a defensive lineman. The Alabama alum plays inside, completing the three-cone drill in 7.68 seconds, seventh among tackles.
But there’s one other tip, too.
“He goes by B-Y, I’ll go by Byron,” the former Crimson Tide player said. “He’s a great guy.”
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