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Don't Put Too Much Stock in 40 Times

The thing that stood out to me the most during the NFL Combine was how big of a difference there was between unofficial and official 40-yard dash times.  Typically there is always some difference between what is initially reported and the official time, but on more than one occasion there was a significant disconnect between the two during these last few days in Indy. 

When C.J. Spiller ran his 40, for example, his unofficial time was a scorching 4.27 seconds.  Officially, however, his time was 4.37, which was only the second fastest by a running back (Jahvid Best was the fastest with a 4.35).  More recently, yesterday Taylor Mays sent a buzz through Lucas Oil Field by running an unofficial 4.24 40-yard dash.  His official time, however, was 4.43 seconds.  That is an awfully big discrepancy, and as the video after the jump shows, neither time was accurate.

Based on the video, the fastest 40 time belonged to Jacoby Ford.  The next fastest was Taylor Mays, with Trindon Holliday coming in third.  The official times are accurate in having Ford as the fastest of those three, but after that it's not even close to being correct.

Jacboy Ford - 4.24
Taylor Mays - 4.43
Trindon Holliday - 4.34

It's possible that only Mays' 40 time was screwed up when you consider that he was barely slower than Ford but faster than Holliday, but even so that is an awfully big mistake to make.  Teams not from Oakland aren't going to base a draft solely on 40 times, but it is a contributing factor, and for the NFL to have this big of a problem reporting 40 times is inexcusable.  If I were Taylor Mays I would have somebody break down the video to find out exactly what my 40 time was and make sure the NFL corrects its mistake, because it's obvious that Holliday was not faster.

In general, this is exactly why you can't take too much away from 40 times or other numbers taken at the combine.  Just look at Brandon Graham, as I mentioned yesterday.  According to the measurements, his arms grew 2 inches from the Senior Bowl to the combine.  In reality somebody measured incorrectly, and if it was at the Senior Bowl then Graham was unfairly criticized by some for having really short arms based on an inaccurate number. 

As entertaining as it may be to talk about 40 times and all of the other stuff that stems from the combine, at the end of the day it comes down to what happens on the field.  It isn't as glamorous to break down game tapes and talk extensively about that, but in reality that is a far better indicator of a successful football player than 40 times will ever be, especially when the 40 times aren't even being accurately reported.