The 40 Yard Dilemma
Why athletes run “faster” at their Pro Days than at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Michael Weinstein – Zybek Sports firstname.lastname@example.org
Try finding an athlete who ran slower at a Pro Day than at the NFL Scouting Combine.
I haven’t found any either.
These are typical examples of the Pro Day media coverage:
“The 6-2, 310-pound Billings helped himself with a personal-best time of 4.92 in the 40, knocking .13 off the time he ran at the Combine.”
“I’ve never run a 4.5 in my life…… Two and a half weeks later, at Ohio State’s pro day on March 11, Miller clocked 40s at 4.33 and 4.36 seconds”
“No one knows exactly how fast Corey Grant’s time in the 40-yard dash was on Tuesday. Some scouts revealed a 4.19; others got incrementally higher toward 4.24, 4.27 and an even seemingly slow 4.36.”
“He was clocked at a 4.48 40-yard dash, much better than the 4.75 he ran at the NFL combine.”
Why is an athlete “faster” at a Pro Day than at the NFL Scouting Combine?
Answer: Although they are taking the same test; it is being graded differently.
At the NFL Scouting Combine, an Electronic Timing System is used. At most Pro Days, manually operated stop watches are used to time athletes.
So, why is a stop watch time always faster than an electronic time? Time is time – right?
This is why the times are different:
Imagine… You are timing an athlete. You are intently watching the athlete who is in a tight 3-point stance located 40 yards (120 feet!) away from your location. You press the start button after you see the athlete start to run. The amount of time after you press the button gives the athlete a head start.
How much of a head start differs for many reasons; however, it will always favor the athlete.
The following table shows some examples of the 40-yard dash reported by the media and the NFL Scouting time:
Figure 1 – Example 40-yard time “Improvements” from the NFL Scouting.
There are an infinite number of sports topics that are open to debate…
Because there are no standards used to time an athlete, the 40-yard dash number is also open for debate.
So next time you hear a discussion on athlete’s 40-yard dash times, just know: all times are not created equal.
It’s not how fast the athlete is.
It’s how they are timed.