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How Absurd Is A 40 Yard Dash Time?


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#1 Saints Fan in Austin

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 07:36 AM

Okay, so I hearing all these "draft guys" talking about how Daymeion Hughes is the most polished cornerback in the draft, but, he can't be a 1st round pick because he ran a 4.6 40 yard dash time. My question is, what separates 4.4 from 4.6? The answer is (.2) seconds over 40 yards. Or (.4) seconds over 80 yards. So you're telling me that the best cornerback in the draft can't be the highest picked, or even within the group of the highest picked because over 80 yards, he's less than a half-a-second slower than the faster yet less skilled corner standing next to him? Marques Colston ran a 4.5. He was pretty productive. Anquan Boldin ran a 4.7. He's been pretty productive as well. And there are a ton of fast guys playing Arena ball or sitting on their couch because every year because teams get infatuated with "speed" guys instead of football players. I wouldn't mind one bit if Hughes was the pick in the first for the Saints. Not at all. And the same goes for Dwayne Jarrett...

#2 BillyCarpenter1

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 07:48 AM

You're right about the 40 times being WAY overrated. That's what I've been saying! That's all anyone wants to talk about. Some player runs a 4.3 and with many fans his draft stock sky-rockets. Absurd!


Mad dash: 40 times are overrated, some say.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Byline: Charean Williams

INDIANAPOLIS _ In a blur, Florida State cornerback Deion Sanders was gone. After he ran an unofficial combine-record 4.28-second time in the 40-yard dash in 1989, he saluted the scouts, picked up his bag and went home. He had made his point ... and his millions.

"It was like Tiger Woods shooting a 63 and just saying, `Beat it,'" Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi said.

Sanders, whose time still is considered the fastest ever at the combine, had more than speed to thrill. The fifth pick of the draft by the Falcons, he was a seven-time Pro Bowler in 12 seasons and won Super Bowls with the 49ers and the Cowboys.

But a fast 40 doesn't always translate into a long NFL run. Otherwise, Renaldo Nehemiah, Willie Gault and James Jett would have been as successful in the NFL as they were in track and field.

"What happens with a lot of track guys is they can't run routes," said Gil Brandt, the Cowboys' former pro personnel chief whose team is credited as the first to use the 40-yard dash to evaluate players in the NFL. "Football is about getting from point A to point B to point C _ not straight-ahead speed _ and a 4.7 guy can sometimes get from A to C faster than a 4.4 guy."

Even though only 507 plays covered 40 or more yards last season in the NFL _ 2.1 per game _ the 40-yard dash has become the league's favorite measuring stick for prospects. The star of the 2003 NFL Scouting Combine, which ended Monday, was Southern California running back Justin Fargas, who ran a hand-held time between 4.31 and 4.39, depending on who was doing the timing.

"Do you know how many people are going to go back and sit down and say, `Look, this guy ran 4.39. We didn't think he could run that fast.'?" Texans general manager Charley Casserly said. "There's a lot of rethinking to do on Justin Fargas."

But the RCA Dome is littered with track cleats.

Boston College defensive end Mike Mamula ran a 4.58 in the 40 at the 1995 combine, prompting the Eagles to trade up with the Bucs to draft him seventh. Mamula, who signed a contract that paid him an average of $1.58 million annually, retired after six seasons, and University of Miami defensive tackle Warren Sapp, whom the Eagles passed on, helped the Bucs to a Super Bowl victory last season.

"I think it (the 40) plays way too much of a role. There's no question," Jets general manager Terry Bradway said. "These guys are all going to run fast, whether it's here or at their schools, but they're going to run in shorts, in ideal conditions, with the wind at their backs, and that's not how they play the game.

"The bottom line is how fast they play the game. That's what each team has to determine."

Prospects see gold at the end of the finish line. So between the end of their college seasons and the combine, NFL wannabes spend as much as $1,500 a week to work with performance specialists. Training facilities in Orlando, Fla., Atlanta, New Orleans and Bradenton, Fla., are filled with prospects looking to lower their 40 times.

They refer to their 40 times "like an I.D. number," Bradway said.

"The 40 is the first thing anyone ever wants to talk about," said Antwaan Randle-El, a second-round pick of the Steelers last year after he ran a 4.42 at the combine. "I mean, no one has ever come up to me and said, `So, how was your shuttle drill?' People don't say, `What was your vertical (jump)?' Uh-uh. It's all about the 40 time. That's the magic number everybody wants to know about."

Brooks Johnson, the 1984 U.S. Olympic track coach, has trained several prospects for the combine, including TCU's LaMarcus McDonald, Jason Goss and LaTarence Dunbar this winter. But Johnson said the 40 reveals little about football players.

"It's an irrelevant distance," Johnson said. "In football, everything basically happens in the first 3 to 5 yards. If every play went for 40 yards, every 2 { plays you'd have a touchdown. The 40 is just one of those dinosaurs that's left over."

And the stopwatch often is deceiving.

In 1990, University of Florida running back Emmitt Smith ran a 4.70 in the 40, and Penn State running back Blair Thomas was clocked at 4.45. The Jets used the second pick on Thomas, who rushed for 2,236 yards in eight seasons, while the Cowboys spent the 17th selection on Smith, who, in 2002, became the NFL's all-time leading rusher.

"Jerry Rice was not fast on a watch, either, but you never saw him get caught," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "The 40 is a tool, but you have to factor it in with everything else."

Because scouts rely on hand times, not electronic times, the numbers are rarely accurate, Johnson said, and serve only to "reinforce their prejudices."

"Ben Johnson, the fastest man the world has ever known, steroids or no steroids, ran a 9.79 in the 100-meter dash at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul," said Bill Buchalter, a longtime track writer for the Orlando Sentinel. "The Swiss Omega Timer, the finest time system in the world, broke it down by meters, and at 40 meters, Ben Johnson ran 4.69. Of course, that was for 40 meters, but a slide-rule expert told me it's a difference of about three feet, so that probably equates to 40 yards at about 4.39 or round it off to a 4.4.

"So the fastest man in the world, when he ran the world record, ran a 4.4 in the 40. Yet, every football player in America runs in the 4.3s. Amazing, isn't it?"

Bradway, when he was a Giants scout in 1991, wanted Stanford receiver Ed McCaffrey. But the Giants had a strict policy that receivers had to run a 4.6 or better on grass to make the team's draft board. Bradway admits he "may have cheated" on McCaffrey's 40 time to get him drafted by the Giants in the third round.

The tortoise has outlasted the hares. McCaffrey has played 12 seasons, catching 546 passes for 7,227 yards and 55 touchdowns, while the four receivers drafted in the first round in 1991 _ Herman Moore, Alvin Harper, Mike Pritchard and Randal Hill _ all are retired.



#3 dc1123

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 08:04 AM

I agree the 40 is way overrated. If Hughes has game speed than thats all that should matter. This is not a track meet. Devin Hester is a corner and prob. the fastest if not one of the fastest in the league, but i guarantee if you put him in coverage there would be plenty of times he would be smoked on post routes. There is a reason he is returning punts and not starting at corner.

#4 saintz08

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 08:57 AM

Okay, so I hearing all these "draft guys" talking about how Daymeion Hughes is the most polished cornerback in the draft, but, he can't be a 1st round pick because he ran a 4.6 40 yard dash time. My question is, what separates 4.4 from 4.6? The answer is (.2) seconds over 40 yards. Or (.4) seconds over 80 yards. So you're telling me that the best cornerback in the draft can't be the highest picked, or even within the group of the highest picked because over 80 yards, he's less than a half-a-second slower than the faster yet less skilled corner standing next to him? Marques Colston ran a 4.5. He was pretty productive. Anquan Boldin ran a 4.7. He's been pretty productive as well. And there are a ton of fast guys playing Arena ball or sitting on their couch because every year because teams get infatuated with "speed" guys instead of football players. I wouldn't mind one bit if Hughes was the pick in the first for the Saints. Not at all. And the same goes for Dwayne Jarrett...


Ask Fred Thomas ...... ;)

My question is, what separates 4.4 from 4.6?


You want a 4.8 corner locked up on a 4.4 receiver on a fly route in man coverage ??


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#5 DWalker24

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 09:03 AM

I see what ou mean. The times are overrated but still at least a player has to show he burn something. I dont like Hughes as all that, would love him as a 2nd Rounder. He's got on the radar becuase of all the stats. If thats so, then he should be the 1st CB taken to me.

But the times dont attract me, maybe sometimes but skills amaze me. Some sort of a player like Courtney Brown or Josh Wilson

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#6 Saints Fan in Austin

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 09:21 AM

Ask Fred Thomas ...... ;)
You want a 4.8 corner locked up on a 4.4 receiver on a fly route in man coverage ??


Fred Thomas' problem isn't speed. It's declining skill.

Well, there is a difference between 4.8 and 4.6. I don't recall mentioning a 4.8 corner, especially against a 4.4 receiver. Ronde Barber is a 4.6 corner and he's done pretty well for himself. A 4.6 CB with a bump or a cushion can hang with a 4.4 WR over 40 yards. And, it's not like he's the only defender on the field. Furthermore, when Joe Horn caught that fleaflicker in the Cincy game, he was the slowest guy in the picture. A lot goes into playing football besides pure speed.

#7 saintz08

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 09:30 AM

Fred Thomas' problem isn't speed. It's declining skill.

Well, there is a difference between 4.8 and 4.6. I don't recall mentioning a 4.8 corner, especially against a 4.4 receiver. Ronde Barber is a 4.6 corner and he's done pretty well for himself. A 4.6 CB with a bump or a cushion can hang with a 4.4 WR over 40 yards. And, it's not like he's the only defender on the field. Furthermore, when Joe Horn caught that fleaflicker in the Cincy game, he was the slowest guy in the picture. A lot goes into playing football besides pure speed.


And what is the difference in Champ Bailey and Rhonde Barber ???

Ronde Barber is a 4.6 corner and he's done pretty well for himself.


Define declining skill in a corner .....

Fred Thomas' problem isn't speed. It's declining skill.




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#8 Danno

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 09:32 AM

Player A runs a 4.4 40 (in shorts and a T-shirt, timed when he starts, not when a whistle blows)

Player B runs a 4.6 40, same conditions.

Put both players in full pads, and start the race from a jogging start, which is more indicative of how they run during a game. The WR/CB race starts after the CB has chucked the WR, turned and both are alreday at 1/2 speed.

Player B may be faster than player A when the conditions change.

Player B may also be closing in on player A in the 40 yard dash because player A is much faster out of the blocks, but doesn't have top notch top end speed (or closing speed).

40 yard times are a tool, but doesn't mean player A is faster than player B during a game.


I'd love to see CB's timed from a backwards start, turn and run.
I'd love to see WR's timed after they are contacted (or start the time from 5 to 45 yards.

All players should be timed in full pads also, and when a gun fires or whistle blows, not at 1st movement. You're negating reaction time.
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#9 Saints Fan in Austin

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 09:37 AM

And what is the difference in Champ Bailey and Rhonde Barber ???
Define declining skill in a corner .....



There's a lot more to Champ Bailey's game than speed. Reflexes, anticipation, size....Bailey is the better athlete by far. DeAngelo Hall is fast, but isn't in the same league as Champ Bailey.

Declining skill = decline in the ability to react in a given situation. Not just loss of speed but a loss of quickness, strength, anticipation, ability to heal, and reaction time (brain to body). Straight line speed is just a part of it.

#10 chaud

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 12:12 PM

There is a reason he is returning punts and not starting at corner.


he doesn't cover well.. they even tried him at WR and he couldn't do that either. it'll be interesting to see what he does, he can't be a special teams player forever.
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#11 bus driver

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 12:46 PM

he doesn't cover well.. they even tried him at WR and he couldn't do that either. it'll be interesting to see what he does, he can't be a special teams player forever.


We did the same thing with Michael Lewis at WR, and he sucked. Some guys just aren't cut out to do anything but special teams. Plus, why can't he stick around as a special teamer? He's very valuable as a kick/punt returner. Six TD returns. Wasn't that an NFL record? It's disappointing that he's not good at anything else, but who could pass on a return man like that?

#12 Saints Fan in Austin

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 12:47 PM

he doesn't cover well.. they even tried him at WR and he couldn't do that either. it'll be interesting to see what he does, he can't be a special teams player forever.


Exactly. Speed doesn't equal skill.

#13 BillyCarpenter1

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 12:51 PM

Speed is one factor. But it ain't all it's cracked up to be. Just ask Donte' Stallwoth.

#14 Shadowdrinker_x

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 01:00 PM

The way I look at it,..First off, yes 40 times are completely overrated..they shoot a 4th round guy into the 1st round, and it's ridiculous...However, I can see thier usefulness, as long as you don't overlook everything else that comes with said player.

Most plays in the NFL are designed to be short, ''get the 1st down'' kinda plays...Now, if you have a guy that can get to the designated spot 1/2 of a second faster, that can save your drive, and/or save your Qb from getting sacked...In that respect, yes, it can be a very useful advantage to have a guy that can get from point A to point B just a little faster...

That bieng said, it's still way too heavily relied on...
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#15 Danno

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 01:20 PM

The way I look at it,..First off, yes 40 times are completely overrated..they shoot a 4th round guy into the 1st round, and it's ridiculous...However, I can see thier usefulness, as long as you don't overlook everything else that comes with said player.

Most plays in the NFL are designed to be short, ''get the 1st down'' kinda plays...Now, if you have a guy that can get to the designated spot 1/2 of a second faster, that can save your drive, and/or save your Qb from getting sacked...In that respect, yes, it can be a very useful advantage to have a guy that can get from point A to point B just a little faster...

That bieng said, it's still way too heavily relied on...

But in your example, point A to point B is about 10 yards or so?
Another reason the 40 time is over-rated.

Player A may get the the 10-15 yard mark 2 or 3 yards sooner than player B, but player B passes him at the 20 to 30 yard mark and beats his 40 time.

Another example of player A being faster than player B, even though player B has a faster 40 time.

Its not a linear translation into football speed.


Exactly. Speed doesn't equal skill.

Exactly. And 40 yard dash speed doesn't equal football speed.
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