Official or not, Northern Iowa wide receiver Terrell Sinkfield's 4.19 time in the 40-yard dash means one thing that will register with NFL scouts—the kid can fly.
And you can't teach speed.
Sinkfield is grabbing headlines after running that blazing 40-yard dash at Minnesota's official pro day on Monday. While opinions have differed on the legitimacy of the sprint, Tyler Mason reported that both of his fastest times should get rid of any doubts:
As reported by Bob Sansevere of TwinCities.com, Sinkfield's main objective was to both impress scouts by running a 4.1 time and stick it to the college that snubbed him out of Hopkins High School:
I was trying to shoot for a 4.19...The fastest I've done (prior to Monday) was 4.2. I was running 4.3s in high schools...It was kind of like a dream to play for the Gophers. I pretty much came here with a chip on my shoulder. It was pretty much a plan since high school that I was going to come here (for Pro Day) and steal the show.
Despite clearly running a fast time, not every clock was sitting at 4.1 when he crossed the finish line. Scott Studwell, the Vikings' director of college scouting, didn't have Sinkfield's time sitting at 4.1, but he did note that the mid-major WR was still impressive, saying, "He ran in the high 4.3s. He can run. He ran fast. He tested well (per Sansevere's piece)."
If you've yet to see the clip of Sinkfield's epic run, be the judge yourself and watch the video below.
Since Sinkfield is officially on our radar (though his time might not be), it's a good time to look at what makes him attractive as an NFL prospect. Those outside of the Northern Iowa fan base likely have never heard of the pride of Minnetonka, Minn., but you will after reading this extensive history of his athletic accomplishments.
Tale of the Tape
Career Stats (courtesy of the Washington Post):
As you can see, nothing really jumps off the board during his four (he did not accumulate any stats during four games in 2009) years in college. However, he led the Panthers in receiving during his senior season, and scored four times in 2012.
His size makes him a good candidate for special teams, more so than it does for full-time receiver work right away. He played on the outside in college, and his speed is evident on highlight films from his time in college.
Displaying good ball skills when the ball is in the air, Sinkfield knows how to use both his body and hands to secure the ball. It's clear that he has speed on tape, but the quarterback situation at Northern Iowa has obviously affected his ability to get the ball when open.
From a return standpoint, Sinkfield has a lot to learn.
He returned just one punt and three kicks in his career at Northern Iowa, but that will all change when he's trying to make an NFL roster. Just look at guys like Miles Austin, who use the return game to make an NFL roster before making it big as a wideout.
That's likely the path Sinkfield will have to venture.
After what is sure to be one of the most criticized and publicized times of the entire 2013 offseason, Sinkfield has at the very least set himself up for a chance in the NFL. Teams and scouts are going to dig into his body of work, and that should lead them to see that his QB situation and the surrounding talent at Northern Iowa makes his stats look less realistic than they would have at another program.
And at the end of the day, most players are only looking for a chance. On Monday, Sinkfield appears to have gotten one.