Razz Reports: 40 yard dash is overly scrutinized

Social Media Manager Alex Rasmussen shares his opinions on the events occurring in the sports world. This column will provide a stance to news events and hopefully dissuade or persuade you to do the same as the reader. Enjoy


The 40-yard dash is simply overrated.

The NFL Scouting Combine, an event where the top college prospects gather to compete in drills in front of pro scouts, began Feb. 23. With a lot on the line for these prospects, there is one drill that always draws attention.

That is the 40-yard dash.

This drill is exactly what it sounds like. A player will lean down in a sprinter’s stance, and whenever they’re ready, they will “dash” 40 yards.

Now essentially the drill sounds like a good way to compare the top prospects’ speeds and to an extent it is. However, this drill is more about technique than pure speed.

Speaking from experience, the 40-yard dash can get you crossed off a lot of scouts’ lists based on your position. In my case, being a wide receiver, the range for this position at the NFL and college level is from a 4.4 to a 4.6.

Now does the fact that I run .04 seconds slower than the benchmark range make me slow? According to scouts, it does.

The 40-yard dash is similar to the SAT. Both are used to test athletes or students on an equal playing field, and a player’s on-field abilities are similar to a student’s GPA. If an athlete has amazing on-field ability, but runs a “slow” 40-yard dash, does that make him a bad candidate for an NFL team? Similar to the fact that if a student has a 4.0 GPA, but scores an 1100 on the SAT, does that make a student “dumb”?

Jerry Rice, hands down the greatest wide receiver of all time, was not in the benchmark range for an NFL receiver coming out of college. Rice ran a 4.71-second 40, which is well out of the prototypical range.

In an interview conducted on the 49er’s official website, Rice commented on the 40-yard dash. “The 40 is overrated,” he said. “I never ran a good 40, but they couldn’t catch me,” Rice  said. He never ran what would be considered a fast time, but that didn’t affect his play style. Rice finished his career with 22,895 yards. Terrell Owens is the next best receiving leader with 15, 934 who ran a 4.45.

The 40-yard dash can make or break a prospect. If he isn’t in his position-specific range, he will be scratched off or have to prove that he is more than what scouts think.

Alex Rasmussen is the Social Media Manager for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.