INDIANAPOLIS – When Jerome Baker runs the 40-yard dash at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday, the former Ohio State linebacker wants to prove he is not only the fastest linebacker in the 2018 NFL draft class, but the fastest linebacker in NFL Scouting Combine history.
"I’m looking to break the record," Baker said Saturday during his media session at the NFL Scouting Combine. "The fastest linebacker record is 4.41. I’m looking to break that."
Since the NFL Scouting Combine began using electronic timing in 2000, no linebacker has run a sub-4.4-second 40-yard dash. If anyone is capable of being the first, though, it might be Baker. He says he has run in the 4.3-second range while training for the combine, and is confident he can do it again in the spotlight on Sunday.
"Very confident," Baker said. "My thing I have is speed. I’m definitely ready to show it."
Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson tweeted Saturday that he has heard there is a "very real chance" that Baker "comes in at 4.4 flat in his 40-yard dash."
Fellow Ohio State linebacker Chris Worley said he, too, believes his former teammate has a real chance to break the record.
"He can do it. He’s got the ability to do it. He’s got to do it now, though," Worley said. "It’s always different than when you think you’re going to do something, and when you actually do it, but I think he will, though. If I was a betting man, I’d have my money on him."
While Baker didn’t perform quite as well as he had hoped in his final season at Ohio State, which hurt his draft stock as a result, he has long been expected to be a standout in Indianapolis, as NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said in his teleconference earlier this week that he expected Baker to "light up the combine."
Baker’s combine got off to a good start on Saturday, when he managed 22 repetitions of 225 pounds in the bench press, the seventh-highest number among linebackers.
Baker, who said he believes he should be a first-round pick, isn’t currently projected to be selected that high. If Baker can put together the combine performance he and others believe he is capable of, though, his stock should rise significantly.
Baker says he has been dreaming of participating in the NFL Scouting Combine for a long time, and come Sunday, he looks to take advantage of his opportunity that demonstrate the athleticism that could give him the potential to be a star at the next level.
"I’ve had this circled since I was six years old," Baker said. "You always grow up watching this, and it’s actually time for me to do it, so tomorrow I’m going to put on a show."
Baker and the rest of the linebacker group will be the third of three groups to run through the 40-yard dash on Sunday, which means his chance to break the record should come early Sunday afternoon.