COLUMBIA, Mo. — It was the silence that Tyler Badie noticed more than anything.
For the past four years, the former Missouri running back had played on some of college football’s biggest stages in front of jaw-dropping crowds across the Southeastern Conference. Alabama. Georgia. Florida.
But when he dropped his right hand on the turf of Lucas Oil Stadium on March 5, only one sound rang in his ears.
“I remember I could just hear my own breathing,” he said. “I was like, wow, this is crazy. Usually you have fans (in the crowd), but in Indy it was just complete silence and everyone has a stopwatch and all eyes on you.
Since ending his college career at Mizzou, Badie had been training for this exact moment at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. He had run just one full 40-yard dash in the months before his Combine appearance. It was alongside speed coaches in Florida, where his training specialized in 10-yard splits to maximize his explosiveness. This time, with representatives from all 32 NFL teams, Badie faced the quickest and most important job interview of his life. The NFL’s three-day draft begins April 28.
People also read…
Initially, Badie considered skipping the 40-yard dash at the Combine and saving it for Mizzou’s pro scouting day on Friday, where 14 former Tigers will go through the same drills in front of NFL scouts and coaches.
“But then I just told everyone that I felt good here. It’s the biggest stage and I want to be able to play in front of these coaches,” the 2021 SEC running leader said. “So I just went out there and ran. And I ran a fast time, so I’m just grateful to have the natural talent and the speed to go out there and do what I did.
Badie’s official time of 4.45 seconds ranked 11th among 27 running backs in Indianapolis. Six backs ran faster than 4.4 – topped by South Dakota State’s Pierre Strong at 4.37 – but Badie found himself in the same ballpark as Georgia’s Zamir White (4.4) and James Cook (4.42) and Iowa’s Tyler Goodson (4.42). Badie also competed in the vertical jump (33.5in, 12th) and long jump (10ft, 1in, 11th) and left Indianapolis particularly pleased with his on-court workouts, where coaches lead players through position-specific workouts. For running backs, that means plenty of passing lanes, perhaps the strongest element of Badie’s game.
“I was happy with my 40s and just about everything I did, from working on the pitch to receiving the ball,” he said. “I just wanted to show that I could catch the ball on this stage, playing on the biggest stage possible. I didn’t drop a ball. My routes were clean. My 40 was fast.
Badie led Mizzou in receptions in his sophomore and senior years, catching 54 passes in 12 games last season, which ranked third in the SEC. He finished his four-year career as the most prolific running back in team history with 126 receptions for 1,149 yards. With those receiver skills — he’s dropped just six balls in 167 career goals, per Pro Football Focus — Badie could start his career as a third down specialist.
“I just wanted to show that I can run and catch the ball,” he said. “The stats show I had 54 receptions (last year), but it’s about being able to show (teams) that you can do it over and over again. So it’s not fair like once in a blue moon.
The Badie’s Combine experience also included meetings with all 32 teams. Most of those conversations have focused on his knowledge of rosters and projects, but teams have also asked about his family background and how many friends or family members would move with him to the city he’s drafted from. .
The Chicago Bears contingent threw a curveball at Badie: What’s the last thing you watched on Netflix?
“I said ‘Euphoria,'” he said, referring to the popular HBO series. “It was literally the first thing that came to mind. And it’s not even on Netflix, which is crazy. But that’s the last thing I looked at.”
The NFL hearing will continue on Friday, when Badie will join his former teammates at Mizzou’s facility for further drills. Like most running backs at Indy, he’s skipped the bench press — bench prospects 225 pounds as many reps as they can handle — and will do more running back drills on the field. Former Tigers expected to participate include defensive linemen Kobie Whiteside and Akial Byers, receivers Keke Chism and Boo Smith, offensive linemen Case Cook and Michael Maietti and linebacker Blaze Alldredge.
Badie has a dormant pick for the player he believes can turn heads: a running back, naturally.
“Dawson (Downing),” he said. “He’s a very quick guy, light on his feet and I feel like he’ll be a good flight for a team. He does everything well, plays all four special teams. And he’s a good ball carrier. He gives me a lot of Rex Burkhead vibes.