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The 5: Cardinals NFL Combine 40-yard dash stars drafted by Steve Keim

Maybe the NFL Scouting Combine doesn’t give a full glimpse of football skills. It’s probably more important for teams to focus on interviews and medical evaluations before they get caught up in the physical testing.

But if we’re going to consider history, the Arizona Cardinals sure like picking combine stars in the 40-yard dash, especially under the leadership of general manager Steve Keim.

Here are five notable combine stars that Arizona ended up drafting, including the most recent to start.

Andy Isabella

(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Isabella tied for the third-fastest 40-yard dash time at the 2019 combine and tied for the quickest among wideouts with a 4.31.

One of the three pass-catchers drafted by Keim in 2019, Isabella was selected at No. 62 overall in the second round, the pick Arizona acquired from the Miami Dolphins in the Josh Rosen trade.

Isabella led all NCAA receivers with 1,698 receiving yards last season and tied for the fifth-most TDs with 13.

“We’re extremely excited about him,” Keim said of Isabella. “He brings a different skill set that we don’t currently have, which the footspeed and the explosiveness to take the top off.”

Kellan Olson

J.J. Nelson

Nelson’s 4.28 40-yard dash was the fastest run in the 2015 combine.

The receiver out of Alabama-Birmingham weighed in at just 156 pounds, but his frame proved functional in flashes over his four seasons with the Cardinals. In both 2016 and 2017, Nelson had over 500 yards receiving, including six touchdowns in 2016.

Drops, though, became a concern with Nelson and in 2018 he was phased out of the offense with only seven catches in 14 games.

He signed with the Oakland Raiders in the offseason.

— Kevin Zimmerman

Ryan Swope

An all-state running back in high school, Swope was known for having standout athleticism with reliable hands.

Catching balls from Ryan Tannehill and Johnny Manziel in his last two seasons at Texas A&M, Swope is the school’s all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards.

His 4.34 40-yard dash tied for second in 2013 among wide receivers, failing to beat out only Tavon Austin and Marquise Goodwin. He also put up an impressive 37-inch vertical and the best three-cone drill of Keim’s draftees at 6.76 seconds (tied with Budda Baker).

Drafted by the Cardinals in the sixth round, Swope had to retire three months after being selected due to ongoing concussion issues.

As of February 2017, Swope has been working in real estate.

— Kellan Olson

John Brown

Projected (at least by’s profile) to go undrafted out of Pittsburg State in 2014, Brown showed out with a 4.34 40-yard dash. That fell short of only Dri Archer and Brandin Cooks in the class.

Perhaps that skyrocketed his draft stock. Arizona picked Brown 91st overall (third round) and saw that speed translate to the NFL.

Brown caught five touchdowns and was targeted 103 times for 696 yards as a rookie, then became a 1,000-yard receiver his second season in 2015. Health problems related to a sickle cell trait hampered Brown in 2016, and that lingered into 2017 as other minor injuries limited the speedy wideout.

Brown signed with the Baltimore Ravens last offseason, where he got back to a solid level of play. He caught 42 passes for 715 yards and five touchdowns for the Ravens.

The Buffalo Bills added Brown in free agency.

— Kevin Zimmerman

T.J. Logan

Logan’s 4.37 mark was the best at the 2017 combine among running backs and the sixth-best overall.

The time is tied for the ninth-fastest 40-yard dash for a running back in combine history.

The Cardinals selected Logan in the fifth round at No. 179 overall, eyeing him as the team’s potential new return man with upside for more.

Logan, though, never got a chance to fight for playing time his rookie year after he suffered a dislocated wrist and missed the entire season. He played in 10 games last season, factoring in mostly on special teams.

— Kellan Olson

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