Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne is a freak athlete for a man his size. Anyone who has tuned in to a Crimson Tide game over the past few years can attest to that.
Unsurprisingly, that means Payne is putting on quite the performance at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. On Sunday, the defensive linemen had a chance to go through a number of drills, including to 40-yard dash. Needless to say, Payne put up a crazy time in the combine’s signature event:
“4.91 at 311 pounds. He’s showing people he can affect the QB.”
😳 @AlabamaFTBL’s Da’Ron Payne haulin' in the 40!
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) March 4, 2018
It is rare to see someone Payne’s size — he weighed in at 311 pounds earlier in the combine — get a time under five seconds. Payne, however, cleared that threshold with ease, showing a rare combination of strength and speed.
Already thought of as a first-round pick in most NFL mock drafts, Payne’s performance in Indianapolis could send him shooting up draft boards across the NFL. Although Payne lacks ideal height for a defensive tackle, stars like the Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald have shown that you don’t necessarily need to be tall to dominate in the trenches at the highest level.
A former five-star recruit coming out of Shades Valley High School in Birmingham, Payne enjoyed a standout career in Tuscaloosa, as he was named a first-team Freshman All-American in 2015, and then first-team All-SEC as a junior.
During the Tide’s run to the 2018 national title, Payne was named the defensive MVP in both College Football Playoff matchups. Against Clemson, he notched an interception and earned his career highlight by catching a touchdown pass. In the national championship against Georgia, he tallying six tackle as the Tide defeated the Bulldogs in overtime.