Football Steve Guiremand Top News UNLV — 24 February 2014
Bittersweet day at NFL Combine for Tim Cornett

Ranked as the 37th best running back and No. 522 overall prospect by heading into the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, UNLV’s Tim Cornett needed to knock it out of the park during Sunday’s running back drills.

Instead, the 6-foot, 209-pounder, who finished his Rebel career with a school-record 3,733 career rushing yards, had what might be best called a bloop single following a mixed bag of results.

Let’s start with the positives:

* Cornett ran a blazing 4.48 in the 40-yard dash which tied him with Notre Dame’s George Atkinson III and Virginia’s Charles Sims for sixth-fastest out of the 33 running backs who took part. That time was better than big-name running backs like Auburn’s Tre Mason (4.50), Washington’s Bishop Sankey (4.49), Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey (4.70), Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk (4.51) and Colorado State’s Kapri Bibbs (4.67). And shockingly, it was also better than the mark turned in by USC’s game-breaking wide receiver Marqise Lee (4.52).

* Cornett also did well in the standing broad jump, finishing with the seventh-best mark of 10-feet, 5-inches. He finished in the middle of the pack (18th) in vertical jump (34½ inches) but did not take part in the bench press.

The bad?

With NFL offenses putting increasing emphasis on running backs that can catch the ball as well they run it, Cornett struggled in pass-catching drills. Badly.

During one drill that required backs to catch swing passes and then turn quickly up the field, Cornett was tentative – he looked like he was going a little over half-speed — and ran “stiff” according to respected draft analyst Mike Mayock on the NFL Network broadcast.

It got worse. Backs were then required to take part in a scaled back version of the gauntlet drill, catching three passes in rapid succession while running back-and-forth between the hashes.

Once again Cornett didn’t look like he was going full speed. He also cradled passes against his chest instead of just reaching out and using his hands, a major no-no.

After the first two passes, Mayock, who gets my vote as the premier draft expert and talent evaluator around, commented, “He’s letting it into his body. He has no confidence in his hands.”

Then, as if right on cue, Cornett had the third pass go through his hands and bounce off his chest.

“All three to his body,” Mayock said. “Cornett has no ball skills.”

Cornett, hoping to become the first Rebel drafted since Frank “The Tank” Summers in 2009 in he fifth round by Pittsburgh, still has UNLV’s Pro Day on March 13 to make his case that he should be one of the 256 players drafted on May 8-10 at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Judging by what happened Sunday, he’s got a lot of work to do.

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