Manti Te’o ran the 40-yard dash in 4.71 seconds yesterday in his pro day workout at Notre Dame yesterday. That was 0.11 seconds faster than his fastest time at the NFL Combine.
While 0.1 seconds doesn’t sound like much, ESPN commentator and former Indianapolis Colts GM Bill Polian says it means everything.
Here’s what he wrote on ESPN Insider today:
“It’s true that in the overall player evaluation process for the NFL draft, a 40-yard dash time is just one number. But to NFL GMs, it’s absolutely an important one, and the tenth of a second that Manti Te’o shaved off his 40 time during his pro day in South Bend on Tuesday could be the difference between a first-round and a third-round grade on some boards.”
Wait, Te’o’s draft stock soared two entire rounds because of ZERO POINT ONE SECONDS?!?!
This can’t possibly be rational.
Polian says that there is an acceptable range of 40-yard dash times for every position. For inside linebackers, the cutoff is 4.74 seconds, so Te’o moved himself into that range. He explains:
“In the front office, if a player is outside the parameters we have set for winning players, then I’m going to question if he belongs in the first three rounds on our draft board, and I’m certainly not going to take him in the first round. The odds are against him becoming a winning player in the NFL, and we’re not going to buck the odds.”
So if you don’t break 4.74, Polian says you are red-flagged and he won’t take you in the first round.
It only makes sense to place this sort of arbitrary range on 40-times if you have a large sample size. The difference between 4.74 seconds and 4.75 seconds is so small that you’d need a huge amount of data to confidently assume whether or not a player falls inside Polian’s range of acceptable times.
But Te’o has run the 40-yard dash four total times for scouts at the NFL Combine and Pro Day.
Those times: 4.82, 4.82, 4.75, 4.71.
You cannot determine whether he’s in that sub-4.74 range with this set of data. The fact that his draft stock is affected by hundredths of a second in a small sample size is absurd.
We aren’t saying 40-yard dash times should mean nothing. But 0.1 seconds shouldn’t be the difference between two entire rounds.
We’d say that this is just the case of an ESPN talking head being reactionary, but Polian is greatly respected in NFL circles. He was the mastermind of the Peyton Manning-era Colts and he has insight into how GM’s in today’s NFL think.
So if a revered NFL mind is to be believed, the 40-yard dash is EVERYTHING in the NFL Draft.
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