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NFL Combine: Ryan Russell Exceeds Expectations

Today was day 5 of the 2015 NFL Combine and we finally got to see Purdue’s lone participant, defensive end Ryan Russell, in action.

Purdue's Ryan Russell (right) performs a stretch exercise along side Kentucky's Za'darius Smith
Purdue's Ryan Russell (right) performs a stretch exercise along side Kentucky's Za'darius Smith
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Finally, Purdue got to showcase its only player in the NFL Combine today in day 5 of the annual event.  Ryan Russell is 6'5" tall, weighs 275 pounds, and has all of the physical attributes needed to dominate the defensive end position.  However, after a promising start to his career as a Boilermaker, his final two seasons saw his productivity regress and he was widely considered to be somewhat of a disappointment.

Russell, a 4-year starter at Purdue, performed very well today at the combine and could have possibly even improved his draft stock significantly by posting solid numbers across the board.  Today featured defensive linemen and linebackers and Russell was competing with about 54 other linemen overall.  Here are his final results from earlier today as well as how he stacked up against his peers:

40 Yard Dash - 4.75 seconds (5th overall)

Bench Press - 25 reps (16th overall)

Vertical Jump - 32.5" (14th overall)

Broad Jump - 9'11" (6th overall)

3-Cone Drill - 7.25 seconds (7th overall)

20-Yard Shuttle - 4.47 seconds (14th overall)

60-Yard Shuttle - 12.26 seconds (7th overall)

Russell excelled at some of the drills that I feel are the most important for a defensive lineman - 40-yard dash and the 3-cone drill.  Although I do believe that 40-yard dash times are extremely overrated, it does give you a little bit of insight into a players burst speed.  Defensive lineman aren't typically running for 40 yards in a given play, but they do require a great deal of burst speed to be successful.

The broad jump, if you've never seen it, is simply how far a player can jump forward from a standing position.  Just like the 40-yard dash, this can seem like a silly thing to measure because players do not typically stand in place and jump forward.  However, the broad jump is considered to be a great test of balance, quickness, and burst.  Russell had been criticized in the past couple of seasons for not having good balance, so I think it was important for him to do well here to improve his stock, and he performed admirably.

In every mock draft that I've seen before today, Russell was projected as a 7th round draft pick or a free-agent pick-up (undrafted).  With his regression during his junior and senior years, those projections are based almost solely on potential.  After today, I wouldn't be surprised if he moved up a bit - maybe 5th round at best.

Linemen are also put through other drills to further measure their quickness/agility/balance/body control but I was unable to watch him live today on the NFL Network due to personal reasons (she wouldn't even let me watch it on my damn phone!).  I'll check back later tonight and tomorrow to see if there's any video I can grab to see how he did.