Blog Entry

Combine experimenting with 40-yard dash timing

Posted on: February 23, 2012 6:35 pm
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INDIANAPOLIS -- As about 327 former college football stars participate in the National Football League's job fair known as the Scouting Combine, they will be part of a grand experiment in the most popular and most publicized event -- the 40-yard run.
  
In a first, the Combine will use Fully Automated Timing, meaning electronic devices will be used for both the start and the finish of each 40-yard run. However, these FAT 40-yard times will not be revealed to players or NFL teams, The Sports Xchange has learned.
  
Most player workouts will be between Saturday and Monday, with some special teams players only working out on Friday.
  
NFL teams were briefed on the new timing method Wednesday. Because NFL teams keep 40 times to a hundredth of a second, there has long been a push to further legitimize those times by using the same methods as track and field and the Olympics.
  
However, according to coaches and scouts who discussed this with The Sports Xchange, the FAT times are expected to be .20 to .24 seconds slower than the relative times recorded using methods the Combine has gone with since 1990, and before.
  
"We were told it is just an experiment and we won't be told the results," said one team official. "People are worried about the reaction players may have if the 40 times change that much."
  
Combine, team and league officials are concerned that an abrupt change to recognizing the more accurate FAT times would create a culture shock of sorts for players. These players have long been told that, for skilled positions such as wide receiver, cornerback and running back, a 4.30 clocking is elite, a 4.40 is extremely good, a 4.50 is good and 4.70 and above may be cause for concern at those positions for an NFL prospect.
  
As an example, the great Jerry Rice had a rather pedestrian 40 time in the mid-4.6 range. If that time were converted to equate to FAT timing, Rice, rated by many as the best wide receiver -- and the best player -- in NFL history, would be credited with only a mid-4.8 time in the 40.
  
So suddenly adding .21-to-.24 seconds on the Combine times for prospects could result in some sort of psychological shock. As it is, some of the top rated athletes do not run at the Combine. If FAT 40-yard times became official, it is feared that even more players would refused to run at the Combine.
  
For the past 22 years, Combine 40 times included two manual timings and one that was determined by a manual start and an electronic beam at the finish. In those cases, all starts were determined by the player's first motion. Before 1990, all times were entirely manual.
  
The fastest verifiable time in Combine history was a 4.12 by Bo Jackson in 1986 on manual stopwatches in the Superdome.
  
There are numerous stories that Deion Sanders ran a faster than 4.2 seconds at another Superdome Combine. However, research indicates that he was timed in 4.28 seconds at best on one of the so-called "official" stopwatches.
  
Even before the inclusion of the secret FAT timings this year, there was confusion by the media and fans over the so-called "official" 40 times. And the reason is simple -- there really is no single, "official" 40 time.
  
Here is what happens to get the 40 times at the Combine that are revealed:
   --Those who participate in the 40 actually run twice, and on each run they are timed by two hand-held stopwatches and one electronic timer (that is actually initiated by hand on the player's first movement).
   --Combine data put together for NFL teams by National Scouting includes all six of those times for each player, but no single official time.
  
Team scouts and coaches have various approaches for reaching agreement on a 40 time they use from those six timings. Some use averages. Some throw out slowest and fastest and then average the rest. Some ignore the whole thing and use a time taken by their own scout.
  
However, the rapid ascent of the Combine as a media event has created a lot of misconceptions, especially with the addition of live coverage by NFL Network on television and NFL.com online. In recent years, in an attempt to expedite reporting of data, both NFL Network and NFL.com have published 40 times and have not cited the source of those times, except to say they are unofficial.
   
And this year there will be more of the same, as stated in this week's press release from NFL.com and NFL Network, which says: "For the first time ever, NFL.com provides unofficial 40-yard dash times for each participant in real time with the Combine Tracker, allowing fans to obtain results and data faster than ever before. Additionally, the new Combine Tracker lists how each athlete performed in all of the drills, providing a central location to receive statistics as they happen."
  
All this is great for fans viewing online or on television, as long as they understand, as the press release states, that the times are "unofficial." Most media will go with those same times until more specific data becomes available.
  
In deference to the players, NFLDraftScout.com uses the best verifiable -- or listed -- time from the Combine unless it is conspicuously skewed from the other times. However, the times are usually well grouped.
  
Following are the best 40 times and other data documented by NFLDraftScout.com in all Combines since 2000, a Combine All-Century list:

*Top scores from 2000-2011 Combines
(unofficial bests also listed if verified)

Fastest 40 times, 2000-2011 Combines
(Unofficial combine record is 4.12, Bo Jackson (RB), Auburn, 1986
4.21 - Trindon Holliday, (WR), LSU - 2010
4.22 - Jacoby Ford, (WR), Clemson - 2010
4.24 - Chris Johnson, (RB), East Carolina - 2008
4.25 - *Darrius Heyward-Bey, (WR), Maryland - 2009
4.25 - DeMarcus Van Dyke, (CB), Miami - 2011
4.26 - Jerome Mathis, (WR), Hampton - 2005
4.27 - C.J. Spiller, (RB), Clemson - 2010
4.27 - Stanford Routt, (CB), Houston - 2005
4.28 - Mike Wallace, (WR), Mississippi - 2009
4.29 - *Fabian Washington, (CB), Nebraska - 2005
4.29 - Johnny Knox, (WR), Abilene Christian - 2009
4.29 - Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, (CB), Tennessee State - 2008
4.30 - Mike Thomas, (WR), Arizona - 2009
4.30 - Darrent Williams, (CB), Oklahoma State - 2005
4.30 - Yamon Figurs, (WR), Kansas State - 2007
4.31 - Tyvon Branch, (CB), Connecticut - 2008
4.31 - Edmond Gates, (WR), Abilene Christian - 2011
4.31 - Michael Waddell, (CB), North Carolina - 2004
4.31 - Santana Moss, (WR), Miami - 2001
4.31 - Deon Butler, (WR), Penn State - 2009
4.31 - *Justin King, (CB), Penn State - 2008
4.31 - *Johnathan Joseph, (CB), South Carolina - 2006
4.31 - *Patrick Peterson, (CB), LSU - 2011
4.31 - Taylor Mays, (FS), Southern Cal - 2010
4.31 - Tiquan Underwood, (WR), Rutgers - 2009
 
Highest Vertical Jump, 2000-2011 Combines
46 - Gerald Sensabaugh, (FS), North Carolina - 2005
45 1/2 - Derek "Cameron" Wake, (OLB), Penn State - 2005
45 - *Donald Washington, (CB), Ohio State - 2009
45 - Chris McKenzie, (CB), Arizona State - 2005
45 - Chris Chambers, (WR), Wisconsin - 2001
44 - A.J. Jefferson, (CB), Fresno State - 2010
43 1/2 - Dustin Fox, (FS), Ohio State - 2005
43 1/2 - Kevin Kasper, (WR), Iowa - 2001
43 1/2 - Dorin Dickerson, (TE), Pittsburgh - 2010
43 - Cedric James, (WR), TCU - 2001
43 - Darius Butler, (CB), Connecticut - 2009
43 - Scott Starks, (CB), Wisconsin - 2005
43 - *Eric Berry, (FS), Tennessee - 2010
42 1/2 - Nate Burleson, (WR), Nevada - 2003
42 1/2 - Jonathan Carter, (WR), Troy - 2001
42 1/2 - Brock Williams, (CB), Notre Dame - 2001
42 1/2 - Jarett Dillard, (WR), Rice - 2009
42 1/2 - Virgil Green, (TE), Nevada - 2011
42 - Boss Bailey, (OLB), Georgia - 2003
42 - *Jon Baldwin, (WR), Pittsburgh - 2011
42 - Trindon Holliday, (WR), LSU - 2010
42 - Santana Moss, (WR), Miami - 2001
42 - Rashad Holman, (CB), Louisville - 2001
42 - Kerry Rhodes, (FS), Louisville - 2005
42 - *Vernon Davis, (TE), Maryland - 2006
 
Longest Broad Jump, 2000-2011 Combines
11'05" - Justin Fargas, (RB), Southern Cal - 2003
11'05" - Scott Starks, (CB), Wisconsin - 2005
11'04" - Chris McKenzie, (CB), Arizona State - 2005
11'04" - Terence Newman, (CB), Kansas State - 2003
11'04" - Jerome Simpson, (WR), Coastal Carolina - 2008
11'03" - *Donald Washington, (CB), Ohio State - 2009
11'03" - Boss Bailey, (OLB), Georgia - 2003
11'03" - *Julio Jones, (WR), Alabama - 2011
11'03" - Hilton Alexander, (WR), Morris Brown - 2001
11'02" - Jonathan Carter, (WR), Troy - 2001
11'02" - Chris Chambers, (WR), Wisconsin - 2001
11'02" - Cedric James, (WR), TCU - 2001
11'02" - Darius Butler, (CB), Connecticut - 2009
11'02" - Anthony Alridge, (RB), Houston - 2008
11'02" - Carl Stewart, (FB), Auburn - 2008
11'02" - Dekoda Watson, (OLB), Florida State - 2010
11'01" - Pat Watkins, (FS), Florida State - 2006
11'01" - Gerald Sensabaugh, (FS), North Carolina - 2005
11'01" - Will Blackmon, (CB), Boston College - 2006
11'00" - *Donte Whitner, (SS), Ohio State - 2006
11'00" - *Andre Johnson, (WR), Miami - 2003
11'00" - Chris Cook, (CB), Virginia - 2010
11'00" - Andre Carter, (DE), California - 2001
11'00" - David Bruton, (FS), Notre Dame - 2009
11'00" - Jon Alston, (OLB), Stanford - 2006
 
Fastest 20-yd Shuttle, 2000-2011 Combines
3.73 - Kevin Kasper, (WR), Iowa - 2001
3.75 - Dunta Robinson, (CB), South Carolina - 2004
3.76 - Deion Branch, (WR), Louisville - 2002
3.82 - Carlos Rogers, (CB), Auburn - 2005
3.82 - Dante' Hall, (RB), Texas A&M - 2000
3.83 - Kevin Bentley, (OLB), Northwestern - 2002
3.83 - Jason Allen, (FS), Tennessee - 2006
3.83 - Terence Newman, (CB), Kansas State - 2003
3.84 - Justin Beriault, (FS), Ball State - 2005
3.84 - Troy Walters, (WR), Stanford - 2000
3.85 - Rashad Holman, (CB), Louisville - 2001
3.86 - Jason Hebert, (FS), Rice - 2002
3.87 - Coy Wire, (SS), Stanford - 2002
3.87 - Randy Fasani, (QB), Stanford - 2002
3.88 - Ryan Tolhurst, (WR), Richmond - 2002
3.88 - Kevin Curtis, (FS), Texas Tech - 2002
3.88 - Austin Pettis, (WR), Boise State - 2011
3.88 - Kendrick Starling, (WR), San Jose State - 2004
3.88 - Jeff Shoate, (CB), San Diego State - 2004
3.88 - Joey Thomas, (CB), Montana State - 2004
3.89 - Charles Tillman, (CB), Louisiana-Lafayette - 2003
3.89 - Niko Koutouvides, (ILB), Purdue - 2004
3.89 - Domonique Foxworth, (CB), Maryland - 2005
3.89 - Markus Curry, (CB), Michigan - 2005
3.90 - Kelvin Hayden, (CB), Illinois - 2005
 
Fastest Three-Cone drill, 2000-2011 Combines
6.34 - Sedrick Curry, (CB), Texas A&M - 2000
6.42 - Jeff Maehl, (WR), Oregon - 2011
6.44 - Buster Skrine, (CB), Tennessee-Chattanooga - 2011
6.45 - Scott Long, (WR), Louisville - 2010
6.46 - Dane Sanzenbacher, (WR), Ohio State - 2011
6.48 - Carlos Rogers, (CB), Auburn - 2005
6.48 - Terrance Toliver, (WR), LSU - 2011
6.48 - Rogers Beckett, (FS), Marshall - 2000
6.50 - Leon Hall, (CB), Michigan - 2007
6.50 - Cecil Shorts III, (WR), Mount Union - 2011
6.50 - Chykie Brown, (CB), Texas - 2011
6.51 - Jon McGraw, (SS), Kansas State - 2002
6.54 - Trindon Holliday, (WR), LSU - 2010
6.54 - *Anthony Gonzalez, (WR), Ohio State - 2007
6.55 - Shiloh Keo, (SS), Idaho - 2011
6.56 - Ben Taylor, (ILB), Virginia Tech - 2002
6.56 - Kevin Kasper, (WR), Iowa - 2001
6.57 - Harry Douglas, (WR), Louisville - 2008
6.58 - Cody Grimm, (SS), Virginia Tech - 2010
6.58 - *Patrick Peterson, (CB), LSU - 2011
6.59 - Curtis Brown, (CB), Texas - 2011
6.59 - Malcolm Jenkins, (CB), Ohio State - 2009
6.60 - Sherrod Martin, (CB), Troy - 2009
6.60 - David Bruton, (FS), Notre Dame - 2009
6.60 - Trent Gamble, (FS), Wyoming - 2000
 
Most 225 Bench Reps, 2000-2011 Combines
(Unofficial record Justin Earnest (51), Eastern Kentucky, 1999)
49 - Stephen Paea, (DT), Oregon State - 2011
45 - Leif Larsen, (DT), Texas-El Paso - 2000
45 - Mike Kudla, (DE), Ohio State - 2006
45 - Mitch Petrus, (OG), Arkansas - 2010
44 - Jeff Owens, (DT), Georgia - 2010
44 - Brodrick Bunkley, (DT), Florida State - 2006
43 - Scott Young, (OG), BYU - 2005
42 - Isaac Sopoaga, (DT), Hawaii - 2004
42 - Tank Tyler, (DT), North Carolina State - 2007
41 - Terna Nande, (OLB), Miami (OHIO) - 2006
41 - *Igor Olshansky, (DT), Oregon - 2004
40 - Manuel Ramirez, (OG), Texas Tech - 2007
40 - Justin Blalock, (OG), Texas - 2007
39 - Louis Vasquez, (OG), Texas Tech - 2009
39 - *Linval Joseph, (DT), East Carolina - 2010
38 - Marvin Austin, (DT), North Carolina - 2011
38 - Russell Okung, (OT), Oklahoma State - 2010
38 - Tony Pashos, (OT), Illinois - 2003
37 - Terrance Taylor, (DT), Michigan - 2009
37 - *Vernon Gholston, (DE), Ohio State - 2008
37 - Jake Long, (OT), Michigan - 2008
37 - Victor Leyva, (OG), Arizona State - 2001
37 - Moran Norris, (FB), Kansas - 2001
37 - Roberto Garza, (C), Texas AM-Kingsville - 2001
37 - *Haloti Ngata, (DT), Oregon - 2006

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Category: NFL Draft
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