The 2023 NFL Combine is officially wrapped. Outside of actual draft night, the Combine weekend is probably the closest thing to the Super Bowl for the analysts and data nerds. Granted, the football analytics space has broadened so much that the data points coming out of the events take on less significance in isolation but they still play a massive point in the now super sophisticated algorithms of player evaluations.
Personally, I’m not in the camp of analysts who place an outsized amount of weight on players’ Combine results. Especially once you fold in social media, nowadays by the time these players have gotten to Indianapolis we’ve seen so much footage of them in action that it’s hard to justify weighing Combine results as much as they did in the past.
For me, the biggest takeaway from the Combine is being visually reminded of just how not athletic I am and even more so in relation to the very select few college athletes who get invited to participate.
One of my most vivid memories from my undergrad time at ND was playing cornerback for the Morrissey Hall Manorites (ND interhall football is littered with high school stars, something I didn’t realize until the first game) and getting caught on an island in a backfield screen pass to a running back. On its own, this might not have been a terrible situation but this young gentleman caught the pass, got up a head of steam and turned his +45 pound advantage into a bowling bowl in my direction.
The speed he was able to gain in such a short time was like something I’d never seen before at lower levels of competitions. Contact was made, others joined in and eventually the yardage damage was limited but ever since then I’ve never watched the 40 yard dash times the same.
While there are a bunch of other exciting events that display the athleticism of Combine participants, the 40 continues to be what draws most folks’ attention. So let’s look at some of the data for the Notre Dame group that made the trip to Lucas Oil Stadium this year.
Notre Dame Comparisons
There were four Irish players who participated in the 40 YD dash. Their official times ranged from 4.58 on the low end to 5.33 on the high end. It was a big weekend for Isaiah Foskey. He posted the fastest time for all Notre Dame participants by a pretty decent margin, especially when his size and position are factored in.
Offensive Line Comparisons
In the crowded offensive lineman field, Center Jarrett Patterson ran on the slower end of the spectrum. The fastest official time for an offensive lineman was a 4.97 and Patterson clocked a 5.33
Of the 19 safeties who ran the 40, Notre Dame’s Brandon Joseph ranked 14th. The fastest official time for a safety was a 4.43 and Joseph clocked a 4.62.
Tight End Comparisons
Of the 13 safeties who ran the 40, Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer ranked 12th. The fastest official time for a safety was a 4.54 and Mayer clocked a 4.70. Mayer’s 40 time didn’t blow a lot of folks away and many analysts emerged from the weekend raising questions about his overall athletic package given his Combine performance. I’m definitely biased but I don’t give much snuff to drill results impact on the tight ends ability to be a big contributor for any NFL program.
Defensive End Comparisons
Isaiah. Foskey. The Combine added a ton of value to the EDGE’s NFL Draft stock. He performed in the top portion of defensive ends across several key drills and his 40 time was probably the most impressive. In the crowded defensive end field, Foskey ran the 9th fastest time. The fastest official time for a defensive end was a 4.39 and Foskey clocked a 4.58.
Just in terms of the 40 YD dash and some other drills, it wasn’t the most remarkable of Combine outings for the Notre Dame group. But I don’t place too much weight on what that’ll mean for how they end up entering the NFL or their long-term careers.
Especially for Mayer and Patterson, there’s so much too value about who they are on the field and what they can do for programs in tough times that’s already been documented to let some comparative athletic measures significantly discount their Draft stock. But we’ll see as we march closer to Draft night.
Cheers and Go Irish!!