So there’s a sense of general agreement that the Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald is just about the best wide receiver in football right now, and that he and Anquan Boldin form the best receiving tandem in the league. Andrew Perloff of SI.com makes an important observation, though: neither of them is particularly fast.
If anyone still thinks the 40-yard dash is a crucial measurement of how a player will fare in the NFL, just watch the Cardinals receivers play on Sunday. Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are among the top 10 wideouts in the league even though they couldn’t run a 4.5 coming out of college.
Like anything else that can be measured in numbers at the combine, the 40 is meaningless. Receivers have to do so much more than run a straight line.
“Meaningless” is probably a bit much, though. If you look at the top 40-yard dash times for the wide receivers in last year’s combine, you’ll see Eagles rookie star DeSean Jackson right there at the top, and Broncos breakout success Eddie Royal not too far below. So that’s two of the top rookie wideouts toward the top of the 40 times, more correlation than exists with the top performers in any of the other workouts.
Devin Thomas is on there as well, which prompted me to go ask Director of Player Personnel Scott Campbell just how important he felt 40 time was when reviewing a prospect. “There’s a difference between 40 time and play speed,” he said. “40 time is just one tool we use when we’re looking to compare prospects.”
Well, then, is there some other workout that correlates better to game speed, or some other way to measure it? “Just watching it. That’s all you can really do. What they used to say about Jerry Rice — who didn’t have the fastest 40 time — is that he was the fastest guy when the ball was in the air.”
This isn’t necessarily new ground — plenty of people have made similar sorts of arguments. Here, just for example, is a long article on DraftStock.com that reaches much the same conclusion (and also cites Boldin as an example). It’s just something that might be good to keep in mind, as we all get ready to watch Boldin and Fitzgerald on Sunday and then review draft prospects for three months after that. Sometimes a good workout is just a workout.
Tags: Devin Thomas, DevinThomas, Offseason, statistics
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