Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

06 Apr 2009

Speed Score Clarifies RB 40 Times

Here's Bill Barnwell's piece for the Washington Post's PreDraft section about the Speed Score stat, and what it might mean for this year's class of running backs.

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 06 Apr 2009

60 comments, Last at 28 Apr 2009, 12:29am by Dairvon

Comments

1
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 04/06/2009 - 11:27pm

Wow, all of the RBs this year are below average for first-round running backs in Speed Score.

I do also wonder about Westbrook. Westbrook practiced hard for the Combine, but fell way short of what he expected (there's an article about his preparation online). Part of that is that he had a harder road - being from a lower-division school meant no training facilities to maximize Combine tests.

20
by Jimmy :: Wed, 04/08/2009 - 12:46pm

Some guys just won't click on the day, or they get the preparation wrong and end up with dead legs on the wrong day to have them. I think I read the Westbrook article (if it is the one where he talks about over training in the build up to the combine) and it does make some sense as slthough Westbrook has better agility than straight line speed, the guy is still seriously quick. Devin Hester ran a 4.43 (or similar) at the combine when it was on the old lightning RCA turf, but could anyone say for sure that there is a faster player in the league? Has anyone ever looked remotely likely to catch him from behind?

My brother has a theory about the forty times in the combine which basically runs along the lines of, 'If an NFL player is going to have to sprint about all day and then the game is won or lost in the fourth quarter, why does the only speed test in the combine measure performance in a way that would only be valid in the first couple of plays in the game?' Why not have the players (especially WRs and DBs) run 10 forties (or 20 for that matter)? Or you could run 10 forties over an hour. A player who runs at 90% of full speed at the end of a game is going to look much faster than a player with a far superior forty time who drops off to 85% after the first quarter.

Someone may point out that there would be no point in having linemen run 10 sets of forty yards. I entirely agree, but what is the point of asking them to run forty yards in the first place?

30
by shake n bake :: Wed, 04/08/2009 - 11:38pm

Matt Giordano closed on him a ton in the Superbowl when he took the opening kickoff for a TD.

and to answer the obvious next question, Giordano ran a 4.5 40 pre draft. The sidenote on that was he did it with one arm locked at his side because he had a torn pectoral

(or so I've heard. I think I found a legit link for it once, but I remember looking and not finding anything but message board mentions of it a few times).

34
by Jimmy :: Thu, 04/09/2009 - 11:53am

Was he closing on him before or after he was watching himself on the Jumbotron?

Hester rarely sprints all the way into the end zone, he tends to turn on the jets just long enough to leave everyone trailing in his wake and then just coasts in. All I know is that Hester is fast enough no matter if his forty time says he isn't one of the fastest players in the league. I read somewhere that he once ran a 4.26 or so in training at college but he really didn't seem to care about it at all.

36
by shake n bake :: Thu, 04/09/2009 - 1:24pm

If Hester had turned off the jets it was a stupid thing for him to be doing. Giordano grabbed Hester by the ankle just before he made it into the endzone. He fell in for the TD.

Though I agree with the larger point that Hester is one of the fastest players in the league even if his 40 just says that he's really fast.

2
by the silent speaker (not verified) :: Tue, 04/07/2009 - 1:22am

So what happened to the guys with 120 speed scores that they didn't get drafted?

3
by Theo :: Tue, 04/07/2009 - 8:39am

It seems to me that you replaced one score that predicts nothing with another one that predicts nothing.

4
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 04/07/2009 - 10:03am

It's not that it predicts nothing, it's just that the strength of the relationship isn't very high. Speed scores are useful in that if you're planning to draft a RB early with a low speed score, you damn well better make sure he's good in other respects, and if you're looking for a sleeper, speed score might point to one.

It can't be more than that because it only measures two factors and RB success depends on a lot more. (Lewin gets around this by limiting his system to the first 2 rounds so the scouts do most of the work for him.)

(Formerly "The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly")

9
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 04/07/2009 - 3:26pm

I dunno, a correlation coefficient of ~0.3-0.4 when you're relating two numbers about one person to the performance of a person in a game of 11 people on 11 other people is pretty freaking high. I mean, you're saying you can explain 10-20% of the variation in all running backs' performance just on a speed measurement over one distance and their weight. That's pretty amazing.

23
by Still Alive (not verified) :: Wed, 04/08/2009 - 5:34pm

Yay for someone who understands statistics!

I "loved" the article I read recently whose thesis was that the MLB salary disparity is not a big deal in baseball because it only explains 20% of the variation in wins between teams.

That seems super high to me! But they think it is low?

At that number each 5 million dollars or so buys you a win, so a team like the Yankees should be averaging a 106 win season every year (obviously the fit is not exactly linear, but still!) It just goes to show how poorly the big spenders are spending their money, and that the people writing the article didn't understand their own findings.

5
by parker (not verified) :: Tue, 04/07/2009 - 10:55am

Maybe its just me, but versatile backs might be optimally used in pass first offenses. So having a guy on the field who is a dual threat might be the best choice since defenses have to treat that guy like an extra receiver. So guys like Westbrook who speed score says would suck as a feature back on another team, are the exception to the rule because of the way they are used.

Tangentially this guy can be of greater use primarily as a runner once defenses get tired. I'm pretty sure its been proven that nfl defenses get significantly worse once the defense has been on the field a certain number of plays.

What I conclude from a study like this one is that guys with high speed scores can be of use to even the most dimwitted offensive coach. On the other hand that doesn't mean that a guy with a 90 something speed score can't be put to good use.

7
by Jacob Stevens (not verified) :: Tue, 04/07/2009 - 11:54am

And considering what Georgia ran, Moreno seems a good fit for pass-first offenses. Great moves back. WYSIWYG with him, I think.

I love speed score. Any chance Westbrook played faster, even could run faster, after becoming a pro? The versatility is noted, but it just doesn't fit. He doesn't seem all that slow for his size.

8
by parker (not verified) :: Tue, 04/07/2009 - 12:51pm

IMO, certain guys are just faster than their 40 time. I think the nfl would do better to clock mph. Reggie Bush doesn't have a faster 40 time than Chris Johnson but I'd be willing to wager that his top end mph are better. 40s also don't take into account conditioning. Alot of world class 400m runners are fast enough to be world class 100m runners as well but wouldn't be as good at that race. I'd also be willing to wager that the longer race better approximates game speed.

My point is a fast 40 time definitely shows a guy is field fast, but a slower 40 time doesn't necessarily indicate that a guy is field slow. I guess thats why scouts have to watch so much tape and why Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice are hall of famers.

10
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 04/07/2009 - 3:31pm

I think it's most likely that Westbrook just had a crappy 40 time. His pre-draft expectations were more in the 4.4, sub-4.4 range - and this is from him, from training, not from scouts.

40 times are going to have a fair amount of variation in them, so Speed Score is going to have outliers on both sides. You'd probably do better if you could get the average of 10 trials, but obviously that's not feasible.

11
by Independent George :: Tue, 04/07/2009 - 4:43pm

He doesn't seem all that slow for his size.

Are you kidding? He couldn't even make it into the end zone with nobody near him!

24
by Still Alive (not verified) :: Wed, 04/08/2009 - 5:35pm

Offenses don't get tired?

6
by parker (not verified) :: Tue, 04/07/2009 - 11:01am

Also I might take a look at the pedigree of the school. Forte and Johnson played against better competition while playing at non-football factories. Same with Tomlinson. On the other hand Cedric Benson has under performed his speed score though he had a pretty good college career. Maybe playing at Texas helped him look better than he is. Or maybe he just likes weed too much.

For the guys of this year's draft I might consider Ian Johnson as a guy who's speed score isn't indicative of his overall ability. He's played well against good competition(Oklahoma) and played in an offense that could be wide open at times. My Skins might not be able to use him, but maybe a team like Seattle who throws the ball around could put him to good use.

12
by shake n bake :: Tue, 04/07/2009 - 5:26pm

I really like Andre Brown. He reminds me a lot of Addai. Both are very good receivers and blockers, who were more potential than production in college and didn't appear to have top end speed, but had unexpectedly fast 40s and so excellent speed scores(114.2 for Addai, and class best 110.2 for Brown).

He's a bigger more powerful back than Addai, but is like him in the traits needed to be an Indy back and had a similar route to the league, but he's different in running style making him a perfect compliment.

13
by JIMM (not verified) :: Tue, 04/07/2009 - 6:18pm

I'd be curious if you added in height to the mix if there was a positive correlation to being short.

Just from observation it seems the guys built lower to the ground are more maneuverable. From experience as a kid hitting the short squat tank like guy hurt a hell of a lot more than hitting some guy the same weight but a foot taller. Makes sense of course, same mass in a smaller space.

All things being equal I'll take the 5'10" 225, 4.46 guy over the 6'3" 225, 4.46 guy any day.

14
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 04/07/2009 - 11:02pm

The 6'3" guy probably doesn't exist because he was moved to receiver in college. I imagine that height is not a big factor because anyone too tall to be a RB in the NFL is probably more effective in college as a WR or TE anyway.

(Formerly "The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly")

15
by shake n bake :: Tue, 04/07/2009 - 11:48pm

This RB class supports this.

The top 38 here http://www.draftcountdown.com/rankings/rb.php
doesn't have a single back over 6'1" even, and the top back that hits that mark can't catch or run routes.

19
by Jimmy :: Wed, 04/08/2009 - 12:29pm

There are only five tailbacks in the league who are 6'2" or higher. Big Brandon Jacobs is 6'4"; Stephen Jackson and Larry Johnson are listed at 6'3"; Darren McFadden and Matt Forte are listed at 6'2". Every other back in the legue is 6'1" or smaller (last time I checked anyway).

It is a pretty good list of backs though.

16
by JIMM (not verified) :: Wed, 04/08/2009 - 7:44am

Bowl Game Anomaly - shake n bake

certainly there have been several great backs at 6'2" or taller

Jim Brown, Eric Dickerson, Marcus Allen, Franco Harris

which doesn't exactly support my observation. But I'd be very curious to see height mixed into the equation. 5'8" is a lot different than 6'1"

17
by parker (not verified) :: Wed, 04/08/2009 - 9:15am

these guys tried everything and nothing gave a better result than simply using height and weight. This has been rehashed over and over again.

18
by jimm (not verified) :: Wed, 04/08/2009 - 10:04am

Parker - presume you mean speed and weight gave the best result. I only just read this article - where was it rehashed over and over again..

26
by parker (not verified) :: Wed, 04/08/2009 - 8:02pm

speed score was introduced in last year's prospectus. Since then I would say the most common reaction of readers has been to ask how come height isn't used.

21
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 04/08/2009 - 3:42pm

In general taller people ( with longer legs) will have more straight away speed ( and faster 40 times).

Shorter people will be more agile and fare better in lateral cone drills.

Guys with better relative cone drills to their 40 times are generally shorter more agile guys, and guys that are taller with better 40 times are generally labled by scouts as more straight away speed guys.

I maintain that a shorter guy like Tiki Barber really wasn't as fast as you would guess ( if you were to time him in the 40... but if you were going to do a lateral cone drill, it would be hard for anybody to beat him. Same with Westbrook. A 4.43 isn't slow by any means ( it also isn't the fastest), but the guy is super agile and shifty.

Brandon Jacobs at 6'4 265 might actually run a pretty similar 40 to Tiki ( maybe even faster when you factor in their ages), but you wouldn't see Tiki Barber trucking over Laron Laundry, and you won't see Jacobs juking guys out of their shoes ...

In general I feel that a cloud of dust back with a higher median carry is more valued to an offense than a boom/bust ( more often speed back) with long runs that skew his average high. That's why I wasn't super worried when Jacobs ( who had a high YPC and was obviously a consistant back) replaced the stud Barber. I knew losing Tiki stunk, but that it would mean shorter 2nd and 3rd downs for Eli to convert...

People at Texas were saying that Vince Young (6'5) with his sneaky speed ( faster than he looks with those long strides) ran a faster 40 time than Reggie Bush. If you were talking about agility/shiftyness then Bush blows him out of the water, but it wouldn't shock me to see Young fare better than you think in a 40 straight ahead race with R.Bush.

Eddie George is another tall RB that comes to mind. By the end of his career in Dallas he was nothing more than a battering ram, tall, huge, not very shifty and with a huge reduction in his speed.

29
by Dan :: Wed, 04/08/2009 - 11:29pm

According to the Beijing Olympics page, the 8 finalists in last year's 100m men's finals were 6'5" (Bolt), unlisted (Thompson), 5'11" (Dix), 5'10" (Martina), 6'3" (Powell), 5'7" (Frater), 6'1" (Burns), and 6'0" (Patton). The other semifinalists were 5'8" (Gay), 5'10" (Collins), 6'5" (Obikwelu), 6'1" (Atkins), 5'11" (Tsukahara), 6'0" (Edgar), unlisted (Mbandjock), and 5'11" (Francis). I'm not seeing any obvious height advantage - most of the world's fastest men are 5'10" - 6'1".

37
by jebmak :: Thu, 04/09/2009 - 1:37pm

I have heard (while watching something on Bolt) that the issue is that taller runners take a split second longer to get going, so in the short races, the shorter people actually have an advantage, where in the longer distances they make it up and pass because of leg length. That is what makes Bolt so ridiculous.

Since the 40 is shorter than anything in the olympics, I would figure that the average height players, or perhaps even the shorter ones, would have the advantage.

Edit: Of course #32 beat me to the punch. But my comment appears first, ha hah!

22
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 04/08/2009 - 3:49pm

and if you find a skinny tall WR like Matt Jones, don't be enamoured with his fast 40 time, he should run a fast 40 time in a straight away race with those long legs. You should also see if he has the quick feet/agility to match that straight away speed.

Also, Hester really might not have a super fast 40, but the guy is super agile. Santana Moss might not have a super fast 40, but the guy is super agile etc. etc. etc.

Scouts love looking at a guys 10 yard dash ( for acceleration/break off the ball/catch up speed for a corner) and a players vertical jump to measure their explosion.

Randy Moss was 6'4, the fastest player in the league ( at least in the 40 and at least for some of his career, and when he didn't take plays off), but is also able to easily use that height to his advantage. I don't know how shifty he is, Hester and others are much shiftier, but as far as straight away speed, Moss was off the charts.

The thing with cornerbacks is that in reality you want the really agile ( shifty guy) that can react to a WR, but scouts get turned off with slow 40's... Shorter players NATURALLY DO run slower 40 times.

Having a guy with decent height,straight away speed,shifty speed,intelligence is the reason that top end corners don't grow on trees and the reason why Champ Baily, Charles Woodson, Rod Woodson, Deion Sanders, Crow Bar and Asoughma make big bucks.

You just don't find guys that tall, fast AND agile...

25
by parker (not verified) :: Wed, 04/08/2009 - 7:59pm

Chris,
I don't mean to only comment on what you say but what you say about running simply isn't true. Sprint speed comes from the combination of stride length and stride frequency. The short guys have the advantage in frequency(trindan holiday is very short and runs 10 flat) and tall guys have the advantage in length. All that matters for speed is that you have some great combination of the two. Being a great leaper helps(tiki barber was 2nd nationally in 1992 in the long jump) as well as being strong in the squat(ben johnson could squat 600 pounds all day). In short, being tall is not really an inherant advantage for straight ahead speed.

27
by parker (not verified) :: Wed, 04/08/2009 - 8:06pm

Also Santana Moss probably has the fastest timed 100m dash of any guy currently in the nfl and the guy is pretty short.

31
by Podge (not verified) :: Thu, 04/09/2009 - 5:13am

I think Chris Johnson might argue with that.

28
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 04/08/2009 - 9:02pm

Santana Moss isn't as fast as Randy Moss in his prime, or Deion or Darrell Green, James Jett or some of the other burners. I highly doubt he'd run a sub 4.3 like even Matt Jones ran.

The taller guys don't need as many revolutions and it's easier to run a 4.3 at 6'1 and above as opposed to being 5'9. I'd argue that it IS an advantage when running a 40. Taller guys are known to have more straight ahead speed, and shorter guys are known to be more agility and quickness.

If you wanted to get technical, I'd say guys that have more explosion would be better off with better snatches, hang cleans, power cleans, and better in plyometrics as opposed to the flat out squat.

Ben Johnson might rep 600, but NFL players can bench 600... Benn Johnson also had the help from some little magic juice...

56
by AlanSP :: Sun, 04/12/2009 - 3:49pm

40 times for the guys you mentioned (1998 is the earliest year I can find 40 times for):
Randy Moss: 4.39
Santana Moss: 4.31
Matt Jones: 4.37

Guys like Randy Moss, Matt Jones and Calvin Johnson are rare exceptions with absurd athletic ability for their size. Generally taller players are slower (at least in the 40), in large part because tall players tend to be heavier (there isn't a significant relationship between height and speed if you adjust for weight).

32
by parker (not verified) :: Thu, 04/09/2009 - 9:51am

1. I wasn't calling Ben Johnson a natural phenomenon.
1. I was pointing out the proven connection between strength in the squat and speed. You can use Carl Lewis as an example if you want a clean guy. He could do the same thing but was at a disadvantage because he couldn't produce strides at the same frequency. Stride Length is also a product of ones ability to push their own body weight along with height. Think of each stride as actually long horizontal leap.

2. Randy Moss is a freak, you have to use him as an exception not the rule.

3. Shorter guys have a much larger advantage in a shorter race because their maximum stride length is closer 0. Watch a race between Johnson and Lewis or Bolt and gay. The tall guys need to "open up" before they get going.

4. Santana Moss was a track guy who turned into a football player. I think he was timed at 4.29 at the combine but someone will have to look it up. So to use him as a slower example shows lack of knowledge.

Sorry dude, you cannot argue this with someone who hasn't spent a lifetime in sprinting.

*ps I looked up the list of fastest 40 times...this might not include 2008
4.24 - Rondel Melendez, (WR), Eastern Kentucky - 1999
4.28 - Jerome Mathis, (WR), Hampton - 2005
4.28 - *Champ Bailey, (CB), Georgia - 1999
4.29 - Stanford Routt, (CB), Houston - 2005 6 foot 1
4.29 - Jay Hinton, (RB), Morgan State - 1999 6 foot 2
4.29 - *Fabian Washington, (CB), Nebraska - 2005
4.30 - Yamon Figurs (WR), Kansas State - 2007
4.30 - Darrent Williams, (CB), Oklahoma State - 2005
4.31 - *Johnathan Joseph, (CB), South Carolina - 2006
4.31 - Aaron Lockett, (WR), Kansas State - 2002
4.31 - Santana Moss, (WR), Miami - 2001
4.32 - *Troy Williamson, (WR), South Carolina - 2005 6 foot 1
4.32 - *Chad Jackson, (WR), Florida - 2006 6 foot 1
4.32 - Jason Hill (WR), Washington State - 2007 6 foot 1
4.32 - Tim Jennings, (CB), Georgia - 2006
4.32 - Chris McKenzie, (CB), Arizona State - 2005
4.32 - Tim Carter, (WR), Auburn - 2002
4.32 - Kevin Garrett, (CB), Southern Methodist - 2003
4.32 - Antwan Harris, (CB), Virginia - 2000
4.33 - Carlos Francis, (WR), Texas Tech - 2004
4.33 - Karsten Bailey, (WR), Auburn - 1999
4.33 - Chris Chambers, (WR), Wisconsin - 2001
4.34 - *Ahmad Carroll, (CB), Arkansas - 2004
4.34 - Domonique Foxworth, (CB), Maryland - 2005
4.34 - Tyrone Calico, (WR), Middle Tennessee State - 2003 6 foot 4

That six guys measured taller than 6 foot which I would call average. The majority heights(I didn't write any down unless it was over 6'0 which is probably an inch off consider the bias of listing oneself as taller than they are) were either 5'10,5'11,6'0.

This list is only since 1999 so some freaks from early on left out but many more of those freaks were shorter rather than taller. You can point out Moss and Bo Jackson but then you will run out of steam.

42
by Jimmy :: Thu, 04/09/2009 - 4:38pm

Good work on the list. It does reveal the madness involved with drafting a guy on the basis of his forty time. Only one guy one your list is s great player (Bailey) and only two who are particularly good players (Chambers and Moss although some might want to count Foxworth after his new contract). The rest are seeriously ordinary players or just rubbish.

At the same time I doubt any team just drafts guys on the basis of their forty time.

33
by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 04/09/2009 - 11:48am

1) That list is incomplete....
2)Does it really matter if a guy like Tim Carter or listed as 6'0 ( I've seen him listed 5'11 also), or if Stanford Routt is 5'11 or Karsten Bailey is 6'0 ? You didn't even compute your list right...
3) How successful were the short fast guys on your list? Rondel Melendez? Really?
4) You are only looking at the highest of high end of speed players in a short time frame running on artifical turf without pads.

Look, taller guys are on AVERAGE faster in straight away speed, where as shorter guys are more agile. If you want to bring up some Doctred list of guys and compute it wrong then that's on you. Bringing up 5'11 guys and counting them as "short" doesn't work.

Look, running is the stride leight + the revolutions. A 180 pound 6'0 guy will have bigger muscles than a 6'2 180 pound guy and should be stronger on average. The mix is where that added strength meets the longer strides.

A taller guy with longer arms will USUALLY bench less than a shorter guy of the same weight with shorter arms... It's not rocket science.

I'd argue that a backsquat is overrated as you are pushing up, where as abs ( core strength), hip flexers and explosive motions & Plyometrics would be underrated.

38
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 04/09/2009 - 1:48pm

"Look, taller guys are on AVERAGE faster in straight away speed, where as shorter guys are more agile. If you want to bring up some Doctred list of guys and compute it wrong then that's on you. Bringing up 5'11 guys and counting them as "short" doesn't work."

Except Chris, that they're not. You're pushing something thats not supported by ANY data.

35
by parker (not verified) :: Thu, 04/09/2009 - 1:08pm

Chris,

You are not right. Get over it. My list is one I found by googling for a list of fastest 40 times at the nfl combine. Whoever made that list only included 99-07. The point of the list was to show that you tall guys are inherently faster straight ahead logic as incorrect. Another guy in this thread found the 100m olympian heights and came to the same conclusion. Most of the fastest guys are 5'10-6'0. This isn't an opinion it is something you can just look up. I have been involved with sprinting for a signifcant portion of my life. This isn't a subjective topic. Your example of Santana Moss shows your ignorance in this subject.

Now if you want to get back to original argument and state that short guys can overcome a bad speed score more than tall guys I'm all for it and there are some very compelling players that illustrate that argument.

Besides your opinion on J. Campbell and your assumption about tall guys and sprinting I tend to agree with you and not say much.

41
by Anonimouse! (not verified) :: Thu, 04/09/2009 - 3:13pm

From your list, 25% of the fastest people were at the 90th height percentile and about 100% were at the 50th percentile at higher. The "Olympian Post" had 15% in the 99th percentile, and 36% in the 90th percentile or higher.

I don't understand why you present a fairly convincing data set arguing for a correlation between height and speed in the same post where you claim no correlation exists.

55
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Sat, 04/11/2009 - 4:00pm

If the top 10% of the fastest people are in the 50th percentile, the next 15% are in the 60th percentile, the next 20% are in the 70th percentile, the next 20% are in the 80th percentile, and the lowest 25% are in the 90th percentile, you'll get exactly the same percentages you just quoted and have a negative correlation against height.

Simple distributions like that don't really tell you anything.

39
by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 04/09/2009 - 2:44pm

First of all, you have to establish what is short, medium and tall. The average American male height is 5'10 and almost every guy on your list was 5'10 or taller and most were 6'0 or taller.

I really don't care that you sprinted in high school, just like you don't care that Ryan Leaf played in the NFL and Bill Bellicheck didn't.

Except you had an incomplete list and you counted 5'11 and 6' guys as "short and you only looked at some of the highest end guys. Ma Greene and Donovan Baily are also right at 6'0.

If you think Jason Campbell is a great starter or going to be a great starter that is fine, you probably supported Byron leftwhich until that ship sank too. JC is already losing steam fast by the fans in Washington...

40
by TBW (not verified) :: Thu, 04/09/2009 - 2:54pm

Does anyone know how exactly they time the 40 ?

Do you start running at some sort of prompt, a bell, or gunshot ? If so, how much of the difference between players is just due to different reaction times to the prompt to start running ? It seems like it would make 40 times a very noisy dataset to work with.

Ideally I would think you would have a system that would allow the athlete to decide when to start, and it would time him from when he started moving to the finish line.

46
by tuluse :: Thu, 04/09/2009 - 11:13pm

There is a pressure plate at the start of the race, then a human stops the timer when the player reaches the end.

43
by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 04/09/2009 - 4:59pm

The NFL is supposed to time you based on your first motion. There isn't even a "gun" that goes off. You are supposed to be perfectly still for 1-2 seconds and then just GO!

At track meets everybody lines up and gets set and you run at the sound of the gun. It shouldn't be THAT much of a difference, as track runners try and anticipate the gun for the best start possible.

Sometimes you see the officials wave it off for a false start and people have to go again. I don't think it's too much of an issue or that guys with quicker instincts have an advantage. Guys with stronger and longer legs, and faster twitch muscle fibers have the advantage.

44
by parker (not verified) :: Thu, 04/09/2009 - 5:16pm

Anonimouse,
I presented an argument that being taller does not automatically make you faster. According to the logic of someone else that list should have been dominated by the tallest guys in the league.

Chris,
1. Once again you're wrong. Not that it matters but I have dealt with sprinting way past the high school level.b We can leave out whatever I have run, coached, accomplished in sprinting. The point remains that you have no clue how/why/what makes people fast to the point that you call a guy who is world class fast slower than people who are not world class fast to try and prove a point that doesn't exist.

2.Your tall guys that you referenced were Vince Young and Brandon Jacobs(6'4is or taller both of them) and the short guys you referenced were Tiki and R. Bush(6 footish guys). Don't try to change your argument now.

3. Incomplete list? Those are the fastest times 99-07. Not cherry picked just the first list I found by googling. Just admit to having your preconceived notion proven wrong. Maybe you should do some research before you speak. If all other things were held constant then height would be a deciding factor in straight ahead speed. Instead, leg/back/core strength and stride frequency play an overall larger role.

4. I think J. Campbell is good enough that the Redskins can concentrate on other positions. Maybe you disagree with dvoa but +6% works for me as a bottom expectation. I don't consider any qb a magical savior. You can win by having superior play at other positions. I won't switch Eli with Jason but I will trade Jerry for Vinny and all of this year's draft and Jason Campbell.

45
by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 04/09/2009 - 9:55pm

Parker- Just because you put on cleates and ran in high school, doesn't give you any moral superiority into your false argument. Nobody gives a crap that you ran winter track.

Your unscientific and incomplete google list was filled with guys 5'10 and taller. The american average height and taller. Even the guys that were below average were below average by 1-2 inches, while the guys above average were more than 1-2 inches taller. Also know that there are more 5'10 American men out there than 6'4 American men, so when Donovan Bailey is 6'0 ( taller than average), don't be shocked. When Randy Moss is 6'5 and 7 inches taller than average, with a 4.25 don't be shocked.

My argument wasn't even that the tallest people are the fastest people... it was that taller people are faster straight ahead, and that shorter people are more agile. Nobody cares that you ran sprints in high school. Honestly.

Yes, I do disagree with DVOA in Campbells case. Having a guy drop back and throw screens will net a lot more consistant results than having a guy drop back and beat you throwing the rock.

His team didn't resign him for no reason, his team didn't look to trade him for no reason, and his team isn't looking to bring in Byron Leftwhich for no reason. We've seen this story before, with a guy having training wheels on his entire career, while not really taking any risks and doing anything. I'm not impressed. Now could Jason make an improvement some time? Sure, it's possible, but I don't see that happening. If he becomes good one day, more power to him, but going from throwing smoke screens and check downs to droping back and beating defenses isn't easy.

47
by Jimmy :: Fri, 04/10/2009 - 9:53am

How did this turn into a Jason Campbell discussion?

48
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 04/10/2009 - 11:19am

Parker said he generally usually agrees with my comments except he (and DVOA)think Jason Campbell is better than I do.

I never intended to argue that the taller you are, the faster you are, maybe he misunderstood me. My argument is that taller people usually have more straight away speed, while shorter people are usually more agile with better lateral quickness.

Shooting off lists of track stars and NFL players that are average height or taller ( with some an inch or two below average height), doesn't disprove that.

49
by parker (not verified) :: Fri, 04/10/2009 - 11:31am

Chris,
O.k you made me do it. First off, I never ran winter track because I was too busy being a "too short" power forward for a highly ranked bball team. Secondly, when I ran outdoor track blah blah blah good shit. Then I played college football where I flamed out but definitely ran a pretty good 40 somewhere in the 4.4s for what I would have been timed at the nfl combine. Then if you catch track late nite on T.v these days you might be able to catch me doing that thing that I supposedly know nothing about. Also, I have coached others to do better than what I did as far as 40s go. So lets just get out of the way. I usually don't resort to online resume-ing but you somehow bring the asshole out of me.

I love your use of the word unscientific. By which, I presume you mean that you cannot admit when you are wrong. I have a wife like that but she's a woman so that explains about 99% of that.

50
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 04/10/2009 - 1:30pm

Are you done yet? Do you want to tell me how you hit a home run for your 3rd grade little league team too? I never said you know nothing about track ( there you go straw man), but running sprints isn't exactly rocket science.

If you would go back and read what I wrote, you would see that I was saying that taller people are usually faster straight ahead, and shorter guys are usually more agile. I was NOT saying that the taller you are the faster you are.

As Anonimouse pointed out, your google list showing the fast Combine times paired with average or taller players doesn't support your implied concept that shorter guys are faster. The guys that were "short" were short by 1-2 inches and there are more 5'10 American men than 6'3 American men...

I can admit when I am wrong and it certainly happens, but you trying to turn around arguments, posting your unrelated track resume as if you are the only one who ran track and have final authority, and posting google lists that don't even support your conclusions aren't likely to make me concede anything. You aren't an AH, you just don't understand my point.

54
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Sat, 04/11/2009 - 3:57pm

The guys that were "short" were short by 1-2 inches and there are more 5'10 American men than 6'3 American men...

There aren't more 5'10" football players than 6' football players, though.

The idea that "taller people = faster" is pretty much flat out wrong, and I have no idea where you're getting the idea from. Is it because you think taller people have longer strides? That's not actually helpful. A long stride means a long time between providing impulse to the ground, and consider taller people don't impart more force on each push, they actually need to shorten their stride. Which means all that a tall person's height does is make them off-balance and cost them in terms of weight.

Search around and you'll find plenty of articles discussing Usain Bolt's recent Olympic victory, because it pretty much flies in the face of decades of sprinting.

And as for the reason why there aren't "short-short" sprinters, it's because there's basically an ideal height for human sprinting, around 6'. Get much taller, and your stride's too long. Get much shorter and it's too short. There's a decent article in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine which details it all.

51
by BillWallace :: Fri, 04/10/2009 - 5:21pm

While 5'10 may be the average height for an american it is certainly not the average height for a football player.

Also, Darrell Green 5'8. I win the argument, what is my prize?

52
by parker (not verified) :: Sat, 04/11/2009 - 6:39am

I never said that shorter guys were faster. I said taller guys aren't automatically faster. And, it was my 4th grade little league team that I hit the game winning home run for. Skin in 09' baby.

53
by parker (not verified) :: Sat, 04/11/2009 - 6:40am

I never said that shorter guys were faster. I said taller guys aren't automatically faster. And, it was my 4th grade little league team that I hit the game winning home run for. Skin in 09' baby.

57
by Chris (not verified) :: Sun, 04/12/2009 - 6:59pm

and I never said that taller people are faster (than shorter people). For the 1000th time, my comment is that taller people are faster than they are more agile and yes... taller people (ie 6') are on average taller than other ( and 5'10 average) people.

You posted a list of people average height or taller that posted fast 40 times.

59
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 04/14/2009 - 9:27pm

I think - stress think - you're trying to say that taller people are less agile. And that is true. I don't know why you're even saying "faster" in there, though.

If taller people aren't faster than shorter people, and
taller people are faster than more agile, then only
taller people are less agile than shorter people.

Using the phrase "faster than they are more agile" is just completely confusing. Saying "more quick than fast" is a colloquialism, but you apply it to a person, not to groups, to imply that while the latter isn't a weakness, the former is the main strength.

58
by FREDBEAR (not verified) :: Mon, 04/13/2009 - 7:46am

I found it kind of interesting the Brian Urlacher would hace posted a 127 speed score if you take his 40 time as 4.49 and his weight as 258. Im not sure what his weight was at the time he ran that 40 though.

60
by Dairvon (not verified) :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 12:29am

One thing that I think everyone is missing in this discussion is the fact that 40 times are down across the board this year. The combine is at a new site and that means a different track. If you think this metric is meaningful then I think you need to fudge everyone's 40 times a bit to get a better gauge of how they compare to past results, either that or realize that the magic number is really around 95 or 96 this year instead of 100. That makes guys like Wells and Brown look a good bit better.