What Is the 40-Yard Dash at the NFL Scouting Combine?

Doug DonofrioCorrespondent IFebruary 22, 2009

I have been a fan of the NFL Scouting combine for many years and it amazes me that NFL scouts and personnel people are still looking for track stars and 4.33 40's.

I appreciate all the work the scouts do, but winning world championships and Super Bowls is the bottom line than who can run in a straight line the fastest.

In football as in physics straight line or linear speed is a scalar quantity-movement with the absence of direction. So why do we call a 40-yard dash at the combine a measure of speed?

It is not a measure of speed but of true velocity since we are running in one known direction. Where do we truly see pure linear speed within a particular play?

Possibly a straight line interception return or straight line deep vertical pass play to a receiver who was fortunate to get behind the free safety who was playing deep cover two or three.

True linear speed in theory is known as velocity; movement in a specific direction, and is not an accurate assessment or depiction of a players actual mobility.

A true depiction would be an obstacle course with mazes accompanied by stop and start movements such as the short shuttle and the 20-yard cone which are better measures of that player's mobility, and overall acceleration, agility, momentum, power, and force.

Believe it or not, we could measure this at the combine but it would take a two week time-frame to do it.

Pure speed is not an isolated measurable in the truest and purest form. Each player would have to be measured on their total impact either in a collision state or non-collision state; a players relative momentum could also be calculated utilizing body mass and acceleration.

What about anticipation, awareness, and intelligence as a part of the critical element of speed.

The point I am making with all of this, is the combine evaluates small pieces of the larger puzzle we call the Talent Management of procuring a team of individual employees. 

Does having 4.33 speed as a corner make a difference if that player is told to play a cover two or flat four? Why is he not being fully utilized to play man under all over the field on a receiver?

True linear speed may not be the best judge when it comes to winning world championships; however at the combine it is deemed the Supreme Court of all trials and events.