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Football: What Elijah Mitchell's blazing 40-yard dash time means for Cajuns running back's NFL draft

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, March 30, 2021

Click here for Elijah's 40-yard dash.

No matter what the exact time was, this much is clear: Elijah Mitchell was flying at UL’s pro day on Monday.

The Ragin’ Cajuns running back posted an unofficial 40-yard dash time of 4.32 seconds, according to information provided by the Cajuns.

According to a tweet from Jim Nagy, executive director of the Senior Bowl, in which Mitchell played in January, Mitchell had official 40 times of 4.38 seconds and 4.39 seconds in his two runs.

“What I saw was a 4.38,” Mitchell said. “It was between a 4.32, 4.38 – something like that, in that range.”

Whichever it was, the elite time could mean quite a pay day in the NFL draft for Mitchell, an Erath High product who finished his Cajun career with 3,267 rushing yards and 41 rushing touchdowns. The draft begins April 29.

“If you look at the NFL Combine from the last couple years, (Mitchell's times" are top three in the entire Combine at that position,” Cajuns coach Billy Napier said.

In fact, it would have been the fastest last year.

“My plan was just to run a 4.4, be in the 4.4s,” Mitchell said, “but I just speaking the 4.3 into existence, and I’m happy with it.”

An NFL Combine quality time

The top 40 time by a running back the 2020 NFL Combine was 4.39 by Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, a second-round selection of the Indianapolis Colts.

The second-fastest was 4.41 by Appalachian State’s Darynton Evans, who went in the third round to the Tennessee Titans, and the third-fastest was 4.42 from the Cajuns’ Raymond Calais Jr., who was selected by Tampa Bay in the seventh round but spent last season with the Los Angeles Rams.

Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs III, now with the Los Angeles Raiders, had the fastest 40 time at any position last year at 4.27.

“I think this day, and this production – posting these numbers – would be national news story if Eli (Mitchell) was at the NFL Combine today,” Napier said.

“These are elite numbers for his position. Certainly a lot of oohs and aahs in that indoor facility today as he continued to impress.”

Mitchell’s other pro-day numbers, according to the Cajuns: 6.87 seconds in the 3-cone drill; 17 bench press reps of 225 pounds; 10 feet, 8 inches in the broad jump, a vertical jump of 37½ inches; and 4.18 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle.

“You look at the broad jump, you look at the vertical, you look at the 40, the 3-cone,” Napier said, “these are some of the top at the running back position in the last three, four, five years.

“So, very impressive. It does not surprise me one bit. I think we all know how special Eli Mitchell is. He has a bright future.”

Trey Ragas goes 4.68, Joe Dillon injured

Trey Ragas, UL’s other pro running back prospect, was unofficially timed at 4.68 seconds in the 40 on Monday, according to the Cajuns.

Ragas’ other numbers, according to the Cajuns: 7.1 seconds in the 3-cone drill; 23 bench press reps; 9 feet, 9 inches in the broad jump; a vertical  of 33½; and a 4.40 20-yard shuttle.

Also Monday, Napier said outside linebacker Joe Dillon injured his hamstring running the 40.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with him,” Napier said.

“That's a very tough experience, as you can imagine, and one that Joe will overcome. There’s no question.”

Representatives from 28 NFL teams attended the pro day, according to Napier.