The NFL Scouting Combine, regional combines and the various school pro days leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft are hugely important events for scouts to get a read on prospects as well as formal measurements. Position drills are a big deal, while things like the broad jump and vertical leap can tell you a lot about a player's explosiveness. Then there's the 40-yard dash which is a big deal in the media and that's fine, but it seems like scouts put far, far too much stock in it.
On Thursday, Jackson State held its pro day in which about 20 NFL hopefuls hoped to show multiple scouts they have what it takes to at least draw a second look. Unfortunately, said scouts decided that these players literally didn't deserve a second look. The first thing the prospects did was run the 40-yard dash, and scouts cut all of the hopefuls who came in over 4.50 seconds. At the end of the day, that left just one player, West Alabama receiver Stephanio McNair, who barely made it with a 4.50 flat.
I personally think this is pretty darn ridiculous. These guys were never going to be drafted but were hoping to latch on as undrafted free agents. I agree with Mike Mayock in that combine drills and measurements like the 40-yard dash should not be used to develop concrete opinions on a player ... ever. These drills should be used as a fact check and nothing more. If a guy you think is fast runs slow, it's worth a second look. But that's all.
Anyway, I felt like talking about this because of just how crazy the cutoff is. Yeah, we see guys running in the 4.2 and 4.3 range and that's incredible, but 4.5 is still very, very fast. To give you guys some perspective on that, the greatest wide receiver to ever play the game, San Francisco 49ers great Jerry Rice, would have failed this pro day and been cut after running the 40-yard dash. Rice ran somewhere in the late 4.69 range or even slightly slower.
Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and even someone like Larry Fitzgerald wouldn't have made the cut under this criteria. Victor Cruz was over the 4.50 mark and he's not exactly slow. So yeah ... maybe the 40-yard dash is valued a bit too highly in the NFL, no?