Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football’s Jalen Elliott ‘Righted’ Slower NFL Combine 40 Time At Self-Made Pro Day
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Jalen Elliott ‘Righted’ Slower NFL Combine 40 Time At Self-Made Pro Day

Jalen Elliott’s explanation for a disappointing 4.8-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in late February featured no mention of the tight back he dealt with that week.

No excuse. A matter of timing, the former Notre Dame safety offered instead.

“I believe God’s timing is perfect. I live by that,” Elliott said Wednesday on The Jim Rome Show. “That day at the combine wasn’t my time to run the time I was supposed to run. But what I really wanted to show is that it wouldn’t discourage me.

“After I ran, I went and did my field drills, had a clean day. When I got back, I knew it was time to work.”

That second chance was supposed to come on April 1 at Notre Dame’s pro day. That was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. Once again, he viewed it as another change to get back up and brush off a tough situation. Elliott and fellow Notre Dame draft prospects Julian Okwara, Donte Vaughn and Troy Pride Jr. held their own pro day on Friday on a Notre Dame practice fields.

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Notre Dame safety Jalen Elliott during a game against Vanderbilt in 2018
Elliott is a projected late-round pick in the NFL Draft, which will take place April 23-25. (Angela Driskell)

“Some of our teammates didn’t have a pro day at all,” Elliott said. “It was wanting to at least have some type of video to get their name out there and show they’ve been working. Also, to have an opportunity to right some wrongs that happened at the combine and make sure I showed the best of my ability and my teammates showed the best of their ability.

“Using what we had, we did a great job of putting together something that was respectable and can be sent to coaches.”

Elliott ran the 40-yard dash again, twice, and posted a video on his twitter account with the times: 4.54 and 4.56.

“I knew that wasn’t my true speed,” Elliott said of his 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine. “I think I righted that with running the time I ran [at the self-made pro day].”

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If nothing else, slicing 0.26 seconds off a 40 time generates positive momentum in the weeks leading up to the draft. For Elliott himself, dropping his 40 is a personal victory and a big deal for a player in whom Irish head coach Brian Kelly saw unparalleled competitiveness in one of his first impressions — back in 2015 at the Irish Invasion camp, where Elliott earned a Notre Dame offer.

“It’s never wanting to get beat,” Elliott said. “That’s my thing. Sometimes you lose, but in my head shouldn’t lose. When I have that mindset and proving to people that I’m supposed to be where I am, it really comes off and that competitive nature comes out. I’m thankful for it.”

Elliott committed shortly after that Irish Invasion camp and became a three-year starter. His most productive season was in 2018, when he had 67 tackles, 0.5 sacks, four interceptions and seven passes defended. He made 49 tackles and intercepted two passes in 2019.

On the whole, the faster 40 time is unlikely to change Elliott’s projection as a late-round pick in this month’s NFL Draft, an evaluation built on more than straight-line speed. He was not among the 255 players to appear in CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson’s seven-round mock draft released Monday. Wilson’s colleague, Josh Edwards, had him as a seventh-round pick. Elliott will be happy with any selection. He has reportedly held pre-draft interviews with the San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots via FaceTime.

“It’s going to be a surreal feeling for sure,” Elliott said. “But at the same time, it’ll be like everything. Any big event is a great feeling, but it’s what do I have to do to stay there. What do I have to do to be the best?”

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