Michael Weinstein – Zybek Sports firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s a challenge for you…
Try finding an athlete who ran slower at a Pro Day than at the NFL Scouting Combine.
I haven’t found any either.
A few typical examples of media coverage surrounding NFL Draft prospects’ Pro Day performances:
There are some head-scratchers…
“The 6-2, 310-pound Billings helped himself with a personal-best time of 4.92 in the 40, knocking .13 seconds off the time he ran at the Combine.”
Sometimes, the results defy logic…
“I’ve never run a 4.5 in my life,” Braxton Miller said.
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”
And there are, of course, some slow thumbs from the sidelines, making everyone confused:
“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.”
In the end, the results are clear: Pro Day results are noticeably faster than the all-important NFL Combine 40-yard dash results.
“He was clocked at a 4.48 40-yard dash, much better than the 4.75 he ran at the NFL combine.”
So why is an athlete “faster” at a Pro Day than at the NFL Scouting Combine?
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 stopwatches 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’re 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 begin 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 times at Pro Days reported by the media, along with the NFL Combine time:
|Athlete||School||NFL Scouting||Pro Day Time||Difference|
|MILLER, BRAXTON||Ohio State||4.51||4.33||0.18|
|THOMAS, MICHAEL||Ohio State||4.57||4.4||0.17|
|BOSA, JOEY||Ohio State||4.87||4.70||0.17|
Figure 1 – Example 40-yard time “Improvements” from the NFL Scouting Combine.
Because there are no standards used to time an athlete, the 40-yard dash number is also open for debate — and an early-round decision in the NFL Draft based on an inherently flawed 40-yard dash time could mean the difference between a running back with breakaway speed and one who can’t get past the first level of a defense.
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.