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Las Vegas native, Bishop Gorman grad tears up NFL combine

Updated March 4, 2024 - 6:48 pm

It’s not unusual for draft prospects to get thrown odd questions at the NFL scouting combine.

Their reaction can sometimes open a window to their true being.

Rome Odunze, the University of Washington and Bishop Gorman star wide receiver, encountered such a question last week in Indianapolis. To say he passed the test with flying colors is an understatement. In fact, his answer was the talk of the combine for all the right reasons.

“Do you think you can land a plane in case of an emergency?” a reporter asked Odunze.

“Absolutely not,” he said without missing a beat. “We are going down. All souls have perished.”

The brutal honesty and smooth delivery earned Odunze all sorts of accolades. The answer, as well as his pristine on-field workout Saturday and two years of electric game tape, helped cement his spot as a near-certain top-10 pick in April. One NFL personnel executive said Odunze even has a case to go in the top five.

Odunze’s earnestness in admitting he’d have no chance of landing a plane was consistent with the honesty he displayed last week.

When asked what he felt constituted a successful career for himself, he said: “I think a successful career would be ending in the Hall of Fame. I want to go at least 10 years. That would hopefully be what it would take. But I want to be one of the best ever to play the game and end up in the Hall of Fame.”

When asked who the best wide receiver is in this draft class, he immediately said he was.

“I just think my versatility sets me apart,” Odunze said. “I have shown all the skills that translate to the NFL at a high level. And I think who I am as a person, who I will be in a locker room and who I will be on the field are all an A-plus.”

Odunze said the NFL wide receiver he would compare himself to is Raiders star Davante Adams.

“I do a lot of his split release technique. I’m still learning, still trying to figure out how he’s so twitchy with it. I’m still getting there,” Odunze said. “But his size, his route-running ability, his contested-catch ability — I like to compare myself to him.”

None of his answers came off as arrogant. Just matter-of-fact and honest responses. His statistics also prove his point for him.

The 6-3, 212-pound Las Vegas native had 95 catches for 1,640 yards and 13 touchdowns last season to help the Huskies reach the national championship game. He had 75 catches for 1,145 yards in 2022.

Odunze backed all that up with a superb showing at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday. He ran a 4.45 second 40-yard dash, posted a 39-inch vertical leap and executed a pristine running and pass-catching session.

He stood out because the two receivers he’s competing with at the top of the draft — Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. and Louisiana State’s Malik Nabers — opted out of the on-field workout.

Odunze, however, was intent on competing. He remained on the field long after everyone else left to nail the three-cone drill, which measures a player’s lateral quickness. Any time under seven seconds would have been considered outstanding for someone of Odunze’s size. But his goal was 6.6 seconds, so he kept running the drill over and over until he gave up after his sixth attempt.

His 6.8 second mark was still the fourth-best among wide receivers. His determination also had scouts raving as he kept trying to hit his goal in a near-empty stadium.

The decision to compete was a no-brainer for Odunze. He wanted to test himself. Not just against the wide receivers in this year’s class, but against the greats of the game.

“You know, just for me, it was about being able to compete against generations before and generations to come and being able to see where I stack up against all those people,” Odunze said. “It’s a one-time thing, a thing you can only do once in your life. So I just want to do it to the fullest. It’s something I feel like I can excel at so that’s why I decided to do it.”

Odunze did indeed perform well. His testing results earned him a 9.91 Relative Athletic Score, which has a maximum of 10. He ranks 29th among the 3,090 wide receivers that have been measured by that metric since 1987.

He may not be able to land a plane. But someone’s going to get a very good football player early in the draft.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on X.

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