ITP Glossary: 40 Yard Dash

With the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine getting underway,draft hopefuls will be put through a number of drills to test their speed, agility, explosiveness, and strength. Inside the Pylon is publishing a special set of glossary terms to define some of the drills these players face in Indianapolis.

40 Yard Dash

The most well-known combine drill is the 40 yard dash. A pure test of speed, this drill times athletes as they explode out of a sprinter’s’ stance and accelerate over 40 yards.

Here is a segment from the NFL Network showing studio host Rich Eisen’s 40 yard dash in 2015 contrasted with some of the top prospects in the 2015 draft class:

It is unclear how much emphasis teams place on the 40 yard dash. From a football standpoint, it is infrequent that many position players are tasked with a full-out 40 yard sprint during a game. Some receivers might be asked to run vertical routes, so for wide receivers and cornerbacks the 40 yard dash does illustrate their speed over this distance, but it might be more important for defensive backs. Arguably the greatest wide receiver in history, Jerry Rice, ran a 4.71. So receivers can get open without pure speed. But for a cornerback, there are times when you might miss on a jam and need to track down a receiver from behind. Finally, for other positions coaches and scouts examine the 10-yard split, or the time it takes the athlete to cover the first 10-yards of the 40 yard dash. This is a good window into the athlete’s short-area burst and quickness.

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Mark Schofield wrote this entry. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.

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