If professional scouts and NFL Draft experts didn’t know his name already, they are certainly aware of Matt Landers after what the former Arkansas football standout did in Indianapolis this weekend.
After turning in a blistering 4.39-second 40-yard dash on his first attempt at the NFL Combine, Landers followed it up with an even better 4.37 seconds — an unofficial time that was later confirmed.
The effortless run caught the attention of media and fans alike, as it was the third-fastest by a receiver and just outside of the top 10 overall times among the 319 participants at the event.
Only Nebraska’s Trey Palmer (4.33) and TCU’s Derius Davis (4.36) were faster among the receivers, and that’s despite Landers having a 10-yard split of 1.51 seconds, which was just tied for eighth at the position.
That time led WalterFootball.com giving him a “stock up” mark for the combine, with one of the site’s authors not holding back on how surprised it was.
“Where did this come from!? Matt Landers was one of the fastest receivers at the combine, running a 4.37. This was at 6-4, 200!”
Landers also had a 37-inch vertical and 10-foot, 10-inch broad jump, which helped him earn an athleticism score of 89 from NFL Next Gen Stats. That ranked third among the receivers.
However, it remains to be seen if that 40-yard dash time was enough to improve his standing in the upcoming NFL Draft. NFL.com gives him a 5.87 prospect grade, which is in the range of an “average backup or special-teamer,” and NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein projects him as a Day 3 pick.
As a sixth-year super senior with the Razorbacks, Landers caught 47 passes for 901 yards and eight touchdowns. It was a true breakout performance for a guy who had caught only 12 passes over four years at Georgia and didn’t emerge until the back half of the 2021 season at Toledo.
Ricky Stromberg Displays Athleticism
He was far from a burner in the 40-yard dash, even compared to other offensive linemen, but Ricky Stromberg put his athleticism on display in the jumps at the NFL Combine.
After a standout four-year career with Arkansas football, Stromberg had a 32.5-inch vertical and 9-foot, 3-inch broad jump. Both of those were among the best marks for offensive linemen in Indianapolis, with the vertical tying for third out of 40 and broad jump tying for sixth out of 39.
That’s why, even with a 5.26-second 40-yard dash that was 25th out of 36 offensive linemen, he still had a solid athleticism grade from NFL Next Gen Stats. That service gave him an overall grade, which also factors in college production, of 77 — fourth among centers at the combine.
NFL.com gave him a prospect grade of 6.18, which makes him a “good backup with the potential to develop into starter.” That seems to be the consensus on Stromberg, whom Lance Zierlein said is also capable of playing guard at the next level.
“Center prospect with enough athleticism and strength to be considered scheme independent,” Zierlein wrote on NFL.com. “Early impressions could leave evaluators unimpressed with his lack of control at times; however, his process and results should quickly grow on them.”
Sports Illustrated has a similar opinion of Stromberg:
“While he must improve his weight distribution and leverage to compensate for limited lateral movement skills, Ricky Stromberg’s intelligence and rare power profile make him a potentially strong starter in the league.”
Injury Limits Drew Sanders
The most hyped of the former Arkansas football players at this year’s NFL Combine was linebacker Drew Sanders, but a hamstring injury prevented him from doing all of the testing.
He did, however, still make a solid impression in Indianapolis by going through position drills for the scouts.
“Drew Sanders went through on-field drills and looked very smooth during drills that simulated him dropping into coverage,” wrote Evan Lazar for Patriots.com. “Some evaluators thought Sanders was a little stiff on film, but he passed the eye test for us once again in that regard.”
Not running the 40 or doing any of the other tests likely won’t hurt Sanders’ stock, as he’s one of the top linebacker prospects in this year’s draft and could be selected in the first round — something an Arkansas linebacker hasn’t done since Billy Ray Smith Jr. in 1983.
His NFL Next Gen Stats score of 86 and NFL.com prospect grade of 6.74 each ranked first among linebackers at the combine, with the latter meaning he’s a potential “Year 1 starter.”
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com compared him to Tremaine Edmunds, a two-time Pro Bowler for the Buffalo Bills, and said he could play inside linebackers in the NFL or be a stand-up edge rusher.
“He plays with good technique in take-ons and has plenty of pursuit range, but he’s still finding his footing with his run fits and tackle consistency,” Zierlein wrote. “He’s a tough out for interior protection as a blitzing linebacker and has natural rush talent to hunt quarterbacks off the edge. Sanders’ athletic gifts, versatility and toughness could help him become a highly impactful playmaker with Pro Bowl upside.”
Jadon Haselwood at the NFL Combine
The other half of Arkansas’ solid 1-2 combo at wide receiver, alongside Matt Landers, Jadon Haselwood is viewed as a potential Day 3 pick in the NFL Draft and didn’t put up huge numbers at the combine to help his case.
He was middle of the pack at best and near the bottom at worst in the testing, with the most glaring of his results being a 4.66-second 40-yard dash. That was the second-slowest time among the 43 wide receivers who ran the 40 in Indianapolis.
Haselwood also posted a 37-inch vertical (t-16th out of 40), 10-foot, 3-inch broad jump (t-31st out of 42), 6.98-second 3-cone drill (t-8th out of 14) and 4.31-second 20-yard shuttle (t-11th out of 19)
That contributed to his NFL Next Gen Stats score of 60, which was tied for 44th among the 50 receivers at the event. His prospect grade from NFL.com is a 5.67, which means he’s a “candidate for bottom of roster or practice squad.”
That seems to be the general thought on Haselwood, whom Sports Illustrated gave a seventh-round grade. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein noted that his lack of special teams experience — just 39 career snaps between Oklahoma and Arkansas — could make it tougher for him to make a roster.
“Big possession target requiring work from the slot to create catch opportunities,” Zierlein wrote. “Haselwood has good size and the strength to make contested catches underneath, but he lacks the speed or separation burst to uncover and stay open against NFL man coverage.”
Dalton Wagner at the NFL Combine
Former Arkansas offensive lineman Dalton Wagner is probably a long shot to get drafted, but he does possess a 6-foot-8, 320-pound frame with 34 3/8-inch arms that could make it possible.
In fact, his prospect grade of 5.80 on NFL.com means he’s an “average backup or special-teamer.” However, he’ll have to overcome an NFL Next Gen Stats score — which is on a scale of 50 to 99 — of just 52.
Wagner posted a 24.5-inch vertical and 8-foot, 6-inch broad jump in the only testing he participated in, both of which ranked among the bottom fourth of offensive linemen.
His pass protection skills could give him a chance in the NFL, as well, but he’s a right tackle-only prospect.
“Wagner has rare size and length at the tackle position, with much better play strength than we typically see from tackles of his height,” NFL.com’s Lance Zeirlein wrote. “He uses his long arms to punch with independent hands, using well-timed strikes to keep rushers out of rhythm. A lack of foot agility leaves him susceptible to inside moves and counters both as a pass protector and run blocker.”
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