Parris Campbell believes he’s the fastest player in the 2019 NFL draft.
Less than three weeks removed from the end of his Ohio State career, he’s already working hard to prepare for his opportunity to prove that.
Campbell has been training at EXOS in Phoenix, Arizona, alongside fellow Ohio State product Johnnie Dixon and some of the other top wide receivers in this year’s draft class, with an eye toward March’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, where his goal is to run the fastest 40-yard dash among all prospects.
“I think I’m the fastest in the draft,” Campbell said this past weekend while in Columbus for the Midwest Sports Spectacular.
Coming off an excellent senior season in which he caught 90 passes for 1,063 yards and 12 touchdowns for Ohio State, Campbell is already in good position to be an early-round NFL draft pick. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. recently projected that Campbell would be a first-round pick, slotting him as the final pick of the first round in his first mock draft of the year.
That said, there’s still more than three months to go until the 2019 NFL draft begins on April 25, and no one knows exactly what will happen right now. So while Campbell said he is honored to see his name in the first-round conversation, he wants to prove over the next three months that he belongs there.
“I still know that there’s work to do,” Campbell said. “There’s nothing that says I’m a solidified first-round pick until draft day actually comes. So I know it’s a lot of work going into it.”
Campbell is currently working out four times a day with a group of prospects that also includes Mississippi’s A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf, Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry and South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel – all of whom also rank among Kiper’s top 10 receivers for the 2019 draft – among others.
It’s not easy work, especially after playing in all 14 of Ohio State’s games this past season, but Campbell says he is having fun with the process.
“Honestly, it’s a relaxing step,” Campbell said. “It’s a grind, but I’m enjoying myself. I’m able to live like a pro. Eating the right things, doing the right things, so I’m enjoying it.”
While Campbell is working out as much as ever, he’s happy that he can now focus solely on becoming a professional football player after graduating from Ohio State in December with a degree in sociology.
“No. 1 difference I see (between being at Ohio State and training for the NFL) is no school. It’s lovely to come home after workouts and know that you’re done,” Campbell said. “It’s more time for me to spend time watching myself on film, critiquing the things that I can; watching other NFL games, understanding the game more, learning the game more, studying plays. So that way, when I get to the combine, I’m in those interviews (with NFL teams), I’m able to critique just the game, able to articulate the game well, and I think that’s the biggest upside.”
“It’s a grind, but I’m enjoying myself. I’m able to live like a pro. Eating the right things, doing the right things, so I’m enjoying it.”– Parris Campbell on training for the NFL Scouting Combine
Campbell was invited to play in this week’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama – where fellow former Ohio State wide receiver Terry McLaurin is putting his game on display for NFL scouts this week – but declined that invitation, after consulting with his agent, his coaches and his family, deciding it was best to focus on his combine training after a long season with the Buckeyes.
“I had a couple minor tweaks and things that I didn’t want to re-aggravate and then be out for training for the combine,” Campbell said.
His minor injuries from the season haven’t stopped him from working out, though, and Campbell isn’t just working on improving his 40-yard dash time or other measurable tests. He’s also looking to become a more polished receiver as he prepares for the combine, where he plans to be a full participant.
“Obviously, I want to test well. Forty, 3-cone, shuttle and all that stuff. But really just trying to precise route-running,” Campbell said. “It’s been awhile since I’ve ran some outside receiver routes, so that’s my main focus, honestly. Just trying to clean up those routes, so come combine, I’m out there looking clean.”
Beyond what he’s able to do on the field, Campbell – a two-time captain at Ohio State – also wants to demonstrate to NFL teams that he’s a person they can count on off the field.
“I think I carry myself well off the field,” Campbell said. “I think that’s the main thing that I’m going to be pushing to these teams … just knowing, GM’s know that they never have to worry about Parris.”
Campbell says it has been his dream to be a first-round NFL draft pick since he was a kid, so that serves as motivation for him to continue working hard every day to try to give himself the best possible chance to achieve that goal.
If he continues to do what he’s been doing and what he did to become a leader and star playmaker at Ohio State, he believes he’ll position himself well to be drafted early.
“Just do the same things I’m doing now,” Campbell said of what he has to do to maximize his draft stock. “Every time I go to a workout, give it my all. Push myself in each and every workout, push myself in every position drill that I do. Make sure I’m eating the right things, maintaining weight, watching film … because that’s a huge part of this game, especially at the next level.”