Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Ball's draft stock might not drop much after his 4.66-second time, though it definitely didn't rise.
Instead, Ball completed the Combine's most-hyped drill in 4.66 seconds on Sunday, 19th among the 33 participating running backs. Ball, as we all know, is hardly a speed-oriented back. His identity as a one-cut, workhorse type of prospect isn't necessarily in danger, though a plus-4.5 time for a running back is never really a good sign. Granted, as Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel pointed out on Sunday, a certain NFL rookie named Alfred Morris set the Washington Redskins' single-season rushing record after posting a 4.67 time at the 2012 Combine.
Elsewhere, Ball also struggled in the bench press. His 15 reps were tied for the fewest among running backs. Other Big Ten running backs who finished above him included Ohio State's Zach Boren (25), Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell (24) and Nebraska's Rex Burkhead (21).
The bright side, if there is one? Though the National Football Post's Russ Lande did place Ball No. 1 on his list of "Players that did not shine," he did note the former Badger did "significantly better" in receiving drills.
"However, in the positional workout, Ball did significantly better. He was quick and fluid in drills and showed the ability to make sharp jump-cuts. In addition, he caught the ball naturally and looked at ease as a receiver."
Wisconsin's pro day is March 6, and it sure seems Ball will be facing heavy pressure to boost his 40 time and bench press total. His production and big-play ability at Wisconsin shouldn't be forgotten, but with NFL teams growing increasingly wary of spending high-round draft picks on running backs, Ball needs a good showing to go as early as he thinks he should. Remember, he elected to forgo entering last year's draft after earning only a third-round grade from the NFL's drafts advisory committee. Now, it looks he'll go toward the tail end of his expected status as a third- to fifth-round pick.
As for the three other former Badgers in Indianapolis...
* Travis Frederick notched a 5.58-second time in the 40, second-slowest among offensive linemen. His 21 reps in the bench press also tied him for 35th among linemen. I'm not sure how much Frederick's Combine numbers could've helped his draft stock -- after all, he's always been valued for his cerebral understanding of the game, his awareness and flexibility in playing various positions across the line. In this aspect, it'll be interesting to see noted draft guru Mike Mayock's latest positional rankings shake out. In his first list, Mayock had Frederick as his No. 1 center, above even Alabama's Barrett Jones.
* Ricky Wagner ran the 40 in 5.17 seconds and posted 20 reps in the bench press. Fun fact (perhaps the funnest?), though: Wagner posted a 31.5-inch vertical leap -- same as Michigan State running back and leap extraordinaire Le'Veon Bell.
* As expected, Mike Taylor didn't work out at the Combine. The former UW linebacker underwent sports hernia surgery in January and is hoping to be fully rehabilitated for Wisconsin's pro day.