Honestly, I think the 40 is important, but it is blown out of proportion. I am generally much keener on watching tape as a measure of speed, particularly focusing on who they are playing against, and if they “pull away” in space. As long as players aren’t egregiously slow and look “fast” in game, they pass my test. I am generally shocked when a player who was never productive runs an insane time, jumps up the draft board, and then you never hear from them again. (that was my old man yelling at cloud moment).
Training for the 40
As a former college player (sick brag), I have been subject to honing in on my craft to get the best possible 40 time, and let me tell you, it’s a grind. I would go to the track before school with my dad for the sole purpose of lowering my 40 time before going to college camps. Working on every detail from your stance all the way through the finish is critical if you want to separate yourself. The big, and obvious goal is to get to top speed as fast as possible. With that said, watching the explosion of the first couple steps as well as how “smooth” a player looks down the stretch gives everything away. The fastest 40 times never look that fast at first glance since they are so effortless. Take John Ross, the fastest 40 time ever run at the combine....it looked like he was going about 80% speed....
I still stand by the idea that the 40 is completely overblown, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be glued to twitter/streaming the combine to see how the players run, specifically focusing on all of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish players competing.
What will the ND players run?
I want to offer up my best guess, and let all of you put in your input. Following the combine, I will highlight who had the most and least accurate guesses. HERE WE GO.
Troy Pride Jr.
The buzz is all about Pride. People are hinting that he might be below 4.3. In the history of the combine, only 14 players have ever gotten below that mark. I think Pride burns, but hits 4.30 right on the dot.
Gilman needs to show some speed as it has been a knock against him.....though he did show some serious wheels being clocked at the senior bowl. I think he is someone who plays very fast, but won’t blow people away with his numbers.
Elliott is a VERY good athlete and had a great showing at the Senior Bowl. I am honestly at a bit of a loss when it comes to his 40. I think he runs/tests well and demonstrates some serious leadership at the combine, a la Drue Tranquill a year ago. Scouts notice this and he should be a guy taken off the board in the later rounds.
I love Finke, this is well known. His 40 time according to the scouts has been all over the place. He is the essential “quicker than fast” guy, so his real drill will be the pro agility and the 3 cone. When I think of his speed, I think of this play, where he accelerates through the hole, and looks very very smooth. I am setting the O/U at 4.5, and I am going to hit that under.
Chris Finke with the 54 yard touchdown! pic.twitter.com/5lwpE10tV2— Notre Dame on NBC (@NDonNBC) September 14, 2019
Everyone has been saying he will be Miles Boykin of the combine. With big bodied, long striders, it is honestly difficult to tell. Their top speeds are generally faster, but getting going is the test of what their 40 will be. I might be wrong here, but I think Claypool does very well, but doesn’t have the same “Boykin effect”. However, he has a better body of work and will look smoother throughout drills as a physical, dominating player.
Tony Jones Jr.
The knock on TJJ has always been his speed. He gets through the hole and has great vision, but didn’t have the burst of Dexter Williams or Josh Adams. He did quiet some people with his 84 yard touchdown in the Camping World Bowl against the Iowa State Cyclones, but I still think he runs middle of the road. His ability to reliably catch the ball out of the backfield during the drills will make him stand out though.
Tony Jones: 84-Yards...GONE— PointsBet Sportsbook (@PointsBetUSA) December 28, 2019
Notre Dame is rolling!pic.twitter.com/ylam8Oa5qf
This one is a crap shoot for me. Kmet is big, strong, and athletic. He is very smooth as well and has shown to be a powerful runner. How will this translate to a 40? No clue. My gut is saying high 4.6/low 4.7s, but I will be closely watching his first few steps as that will make all the difference with a guy of his size.
Kareem is big and athletic and most likely has been grinding at the 40. Having speed for an Edge rusher and being thrown into the possible “freak” category always creates major draft Buzz. I think Kareem falls just outside of this and performs well enough where the 40 is seen as a positive, but not a game changer for him.
Sadly, he will not be running. I think he would have put on a show and ran low 4.5s, possibly even dipping into the freakish 4.49 category with his long strides. The world may never know.
Put in your guesses below! Best and Worst Guesses get shout outs next week, and as always, GO IRISH!