NFL players get slower as they grow older, 40-yard dash times have revealed.
It's no secret that humans get slower with age, but several participants in the NFL's first veteran scouting combine where shocked to hear their 40 times this weekend. Michael Bush's experience was heartbreaking:
Bush was mortified.
"You gotta be (expletive) me," he said. "... 4.91? ... There you go, there goes my career."
Another question was asked, to break the silence, but Bush wasn't ready to move on.
"Man, stop playing. 4.91? You all just messed it up for me," said Bush, pointing to a reporter. "A 4.91? That's like saying you can come off the bench, and you can come catch me."
None of us could, but Bush argued that scouts will count Sunday's ill 40 time above all else, saying: "To me, I think that's all they look at."
That account was told by NFL.com's Marc Sessler on Sunday.
A 4.9 is alarmingly slow for a running back, but that time does not tell the whole story.
The 30-year-old, 245-pound running back has never been known as a speedster. He's been a power back since he entered the NFL with the Raiders in 2008.
Bush was also not the only veteran that received a poor time.
Almost every player's 40-yard dash time came out slower than they expected, according to SB Nation's Adam Stites.
"They said I was a 4.6 or something, but I’ve been running 4.3s and 4.4s all through training," former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Carlton Mitchell told Stites. "I think the lasers, I think it’s the first time they were using them. People that know me know that I’m not a 4.6 guy. When they told me that I said ‘What?’"
Mitchell raised a valid point.
NFL source says vet combine 40 times should be adjusted .1 to .2 seconds faster when comparing to college combine. So 4.85 = 4.65 to 4.75.— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) March 22, 2015
If Robinson is correct, Bush's time could have been as low as 4.71. That's still slow, but not unexpected for a veteran power back.
In my opinion, the whole concept of 40-yard dash times is flawed.
Terrell Davis, the greatest postseason running back in NFL history, ran a 4.72. He was not a speedster, but Davis had game speed. Running backs rarely run 40 yards in a straight line. They juke, cut, and maneuver their way through a defense in hopes of breaking free.
Of course having great speed helps players be successful (Champ Bailey ran a 4.28 in 1999), but being a speedster out of pads does not always translate to success on the field. Maryland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey ran a blazing 4.30 in 2009, prompting the Raiders to select him seventh overall.
Since then, DHB has failed to start all 16 games in a single season, spending time with three different teams. His best season came in 2011 when he caught 64 passes for 975 yards and four touchdowns. He caught three passes for 33 yards with the Steelers last season.
If the NFL really wants to measure how fast a prospect can sprint 40 yards, they should throw a helmet and shoulder pads on the player. Those results would more closely resemble the prospect's game speed.
But the 40-yard dash probably won't change anytime soon. It's used as a measuring tool to compare players, and NFL teams seem to be in love with it.
Fortunately for the players, a slow 40 does not always make or break them.
Joe Don Duncan told me that he ran a 4.74 (almost a tenth of a second slower than Virgil Green and Owen Daniels) when he worked out for the team two weeks ago. That's not blazing speed for a tight end, but Duncan probably won't be a traditional tight end in Denver.
The Broncos have not yet updated their roster to include Duncan, but NFL.com currently lists him as a running back. Denver worked him at fullback and H-back before he signed with them, and that's likely the type of position he'll play.
For background on what fullback-tight end hybrids (H-backs) are asked to do, see this 2013 story from SB Nation's Danny Kelly. As an H-back, Duncan's hands and blocking ability will be more important than his speed.
At the end of the day, 40 times are useful. But don't overvalue 40s when evaluating a player. Timed sprints can be deceiving, but the film will not lie.
The NFL has decided to suspended the league's blackout policy for the 2015 season.
The owners voted Monday to suspend the policy for this year, but it still could be brought back in future years. The NFL Owners Meetings are taking place in Arizona, and this was one of the big topics on deck, but it appears as though it's been dealt with for the time being.
Manning looks just giddy to meet the WWE star. Look at that grin. Priceless.
Just talked to John Elway, team and reps for D. Thomas still working hard on a long term deal: "We’d like him to remain a Denver Bronco."
This is awesome.
Here are the details on Darian Stewart's contract with the Broncos.
Offensive tackle J.T. Clemmings found a home on the right side of Pittsburgh’s offensive line after moving there in 2012. Clemmings is a power blocker with better athleticism than you’d expect.
The NFL Spring Owner's Meeting gets underway this week in Phoenix. Let's take a look at the current stadium situations in San Diego, Los Angeles, Oakland and St. Louis.
The Chiefs have not won a playoff game since 1993. This is arguably the most talented team Kansas City has had since then. Can this group finally break through and give KC fans a reason to celebrate in January?
It's draft time. Over the next month or so, leading up to the draft on April 30, we will hear just about every possible scenario imaginable. The latest comes from ESPN who is suggesting if Heisman winning Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is on the board when the Raiders make their selection at 4th overall, they should draft him as a replacement for Derek Carr.
Rarely does a team with a franchise quarterback actively pursue a premier rookie signal caller, but it can happen.
"I've always been a fan of Tim," Kelly said in an interview that will air tonight at 7 ET on NFL Total Access. "We bring in a lot of players for private workouts, it's just he's the one that everyone keeps talking about. We brought in Terrelle Pryor for a workout and Thad Lewis in for a workout. When players are available for you to work them out it's the same thing of going to the Veteran Combine or going to the Super Regional Combine." (That's not what he said in 2013.)
Drew Brees isn't going anywhere.
Despite recent speculation that the Pro Bowl quarterback might be on the trade block after the New Orleans Saints dealt his favorite target, star tight end Jimmy Graham, to the Seattle Seahawks, the Saints aren't even considering life after Brees.
The Calvin Johnson rule isn't going anywhere, but it did get a nice little semantic makeover from the NFL.
Julian Edelman's possible concussion during Super Bowl XLIX may have pushed the league to give more power to independent medical staff.
Former NFL star Darren Sharper pleaded no contest Monday to drugging and raping two women in Los Angeles as part of a broader plea deal in four states that will send him to federal prison for nine years.
One of the world's biggest soccer hotbeds could soon host a different type of football event.
Well, no one can say yesterday’s veteran combine was a meaningless affair.
OK, they probably still will, but it at least generated a transaction.
The NFL commissioner sat down with The MMQB for a long discussion about the league’s nightmare year off the field, whether he ever considered resigning, Chris Borland, Los Angeles and more. Plus the NFL veterans combine, Chuck Bednarik’s death and the latest from the annual meeting in Arizona
There’s increasing talk at the league meetings this week that the NFL may be ready for a significant rules change that would make two-point conversion attempts much more common.