Friday, March 6, 2015

Could the 40-yard dash become a thing of the past at the NFL Combine?

Feb 21, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston runs the 40 yard dash during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
 Will we no longer see quarterbacks like Jameis Winston run the 40?

This article appeared recently.....

I hope so. I would ditch the 225lb. Bench Press for Max reps as well. While I agree with the conclusion here, I don't agree with the alternatives presented. Just who in the NFL runs in a straight line for any significant distance? Only a receiver who got behind the defensive backs or a running back who broke through the line of scrimmage, or the poor defensive players who are now chasing them! Offensive Linemen don't need to run anything over 5 yards most of the time. It's the first 3 steps that count at almost any position. It's also the ability to change direction quickly without loss of speed. I would suggest a short shuttle run as the best speed test for most players. A 20-30 yard zig zag around cones might make sense for a receiver, while a defensive back might do the same pattern back pedaling.
The 225 for reps bench has long been a pet peeve of mine. Football is a great example of a sport that uses the ATP-PC energy system exclusively. The average play last 6 seconds or less, there is a 30 second break between plays. At the higher levels of competition players specialize on either offense or defense. Therefore they spend half the game waiting on the sidelines. Frequent substitutions are used at skill positions. I realize that recently the "hurry up" style came into vogue via the successes at Oregon. This changes the dynamics for some teams, but it's still an ATP-PC based activity. 
The game is played standing upright. (only poorly skilled players land on their backs)Why would a test of upper body strength-endurance done lying done have any value for predicting football success? Answer: It doesn't. I have seen several research studies in the NSCA Journals that suggest that the bench press for reps as done at the combines has no correlation to football success. I would suggest that pushing a weight sled for short distances would be a more reliable strength test. 
So how and when did these irrelevant tests get started? I'm not sure. I read that the legendary coach Paul Brown first used the 40 yard dash back in the 50's. I hear that the bench for reps started as it was convenient and relatively safe. So what if it doesn't matter for anything I guess. As the article below states, today these tests are perpetuated just because we have always done them. How's that for logic? I heard the late Al Davis of the Raiders never used the combine data, he just looked for guys who could play football. What a radical idea! Attitude, football savvy, and determination are not easily measured but count for at least 95% of football success in my opinion. The combine will continue, however, because of tradition and because there are a whole bunch of people who make a living off of promoting it, training athletes for it, selling products that are related to it...etc. 

Could the 40-yard dash become a thing of the past at the NFL Combine?
Matt Birk, the NFL's director of player development, hinted at the league making changes to the testing drills that have become a staple to the annual event.
"That's a project we'll be working on this offseason," Birk told ESPN on Friday. "Once we look at the data that was gathered in-game this year, it may be important to know how fast a wide receiver or defensive back can go 60 yards. Maybe for an offensive lineman it's only 20 yards.
"We can actually see that in-game: How far are these guys running? What are the real or improved measures of importance and value as it relates to evaluating players and whether or not they should be drafted in the first round or the sixth round?"
The NFL has used these drills to measure prospects for decades. But Birk thinks it's time for a different approach.
"We run the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis. Why? The only reason anyone can ever give you is, that's how it's always been done," Birk said.

Another dinosaur that should be extinct!

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