Hand-wringing over Joe Haden's 40-yard dash sounds familiar

joe-haden-dustin-doe-ben-guidugli-2010-1-1-22-10-7.jpgWith the made-for-TV draftniks so caught up in the number of can’t-miss prospects in an industry where history tells us that roughly half of them can and will, it’s jarring when they find fault with one of the guys destined to become an instant millionaire on April 22.

But there he is, ESPN’s junior-made-for-TV draftnik in the endless loop that is SportsCenter, telling the world that the defensive back who hurt himself the most on Tuesday was Florida’s Joe Haden, who required 4.57 seconds to run 40 yards in a straight line without pads on his body or a receiver in his crosshairs.

And so the junior-made-for-TV draftnik declared that Haden will “struggle” to make it into the top 10.

A quarter-century ago, that same thinking applied to a certain receiver who required 4.58 seconds to run 40 yards in a straight line without pads on his body or a ball in the air.  And he ended up being only the greatest player of all time at any position, and he’ll be joining the immortals in Canton later this year.

Though none of this means that Haden will be heading to the Hall of Fame 25 years from now, it does mean that the made-for-TV draftniks would be wise to apply a broader lens to the black-and-white absolutes they force feed us every year at this time.

The only guy who partially avoids that trap is NFL Network’s Mike Mayock.  Unlike the ESPN made-for-TV draftniks, Mayock is willing to raise red flags that require analysis more substantive than the Nard Dog’s “this muffin tastes bad”-style of critiquing.

The problem is that, if these guys focus too much on the lessons we’ve all learned based on history — most notably, that roughly half of the first-round picks if not more (see 2005) will never pan out — two things will then happen that will make the made-for-TV draftniks and those who employ them extremely uncomfortable.  First, the audience might wonder what the made-for-TV draftniks thought about past players who found a glass ceiling between the NCAA and NFL levels of the sport.  (Andre Woodson, anyone?)  Second, the audience might expect the made-for-TV draftniks to attempt to tell us who this year’s busts might be.

But the only honest answer to that question is, “We don’t know.  Nobody knows.”

And then the cottage industry of the made-for-TV draftniks would implode.

So while many of the folks who actually scout players for NFL teams and, as a result, have real accountability for their mistakes, believe that the made-for-TV draftniks are fools, the reality could be that they’re geniuses.

58 responses to “Hand-wringing over Joe Haden's 40-yard dash sounds familiar

  1. There’s a huge difference between a corner with a big-time agent coming from a big-time speed school like UF, and a WR from a small school, likely very little professional pre-draft training staff, in a very different era for NFL scouting. Haden’s situation sounds familiar more because of Brandon Flowers, I’d say.

  2. I liked that b4 Taylor Mays ran, he was too stiff inthe hips to play in the NFL. After running, he’s the best safety in the draft. Gohlston anyone?

  3. yeah I love how Mayock says if some one runs faster then expected or slower then expected they put the scouts will go back and watch more tape on that guy, and thats what your suppose to do, I think Eric Berry looked better at the combine then Earl Thomas and Mays was impressive but when I look at the film, taylor Mays looks terrible, Eric is very good but Earl Thomas looks great, he has range but most importantly he recognizes the run and it gets down field to fill in gaps as fast as possible, the other guys are good at the run if they already are cheating up or in the box.
    dont be like Mcshay “o hes not getting drafted! ” what do you mean Todd, you had him top 5 pick?” “well now that hes ran a tenth of a second slower hes going undrafted!” lol its ridiculous

  4. Scouts are not only held accountable, but also work much harder and make much less $$ than the big-time draftniks.
    Yeah, the Todd Cliches and Mel Hyper, Jrs. of the world probably don’t truly know what they are talking about. But it’s the NFL offseason, and fans need a way to fill the void. Filling the void with BS is still better than having a big, empty void.

  5. That’s the problem with ESPN. They employ WAY to many analysts, I use the term VERY loosely. And have you ever heard one of them take a paticular stand on someone/something and stick behind it?

  6. Can we please stop hearing about Jerry Rice? Not every player with a disappointing 40 time is Jerry Rice or Emmitt Smith. And not every QB taken in the 5th round is Tom Brady. Hearing these examples over and over (before and especially during the draft) has gotten to the point where it’s just as annoying as hearing people obsess over the times themselves. We all know workout numbers matter very little. Get over it. Unless that means made-for-internet commentator would have to work harder to find something to write about. (By the way, I do really like the site.)

  7. If he falls below the top 10 I think he is a strong buy! Heck, I maybe like a draftnik but I watch the film of the Sugar Bowl and I saw a true shut down corner.

  8. Teams try to find something to measure, because if they can’t, they get unsure about spending all that money on a first round pick.

  9. I believe Darrell Revis ran in the 4.5’s at the combine…how did that work out for him…and the JETS?

  10. Mike Mayock has overtaken everyone as the premier source for draft information. Why anybody would rely on Kiper or McShay for anything besides laughs is beyond me.

  11. So are you suggesting we just ignore the fact that he looks slower after running the 40?
    Remember, the 40 is also an indication of how fast you are after 10 and 20 yards as well.
    Also, speed will be tested more on the next level, so game film will not be enough to reveal how he will compete against the next level of talent

  12. No offense, but this post is poorly worded, impossible to completely understand and not very specific to those of us who stop by on occasion.
    Why don’t you use names instead of silly labels? It would give your site a little more credence.

  13. Give me a lad who is bright, committed to excellence, and who loves the game of football over the the flashy 4.3 40 yard dash, who is only in it for the money, any day! Joe Haden has proven to be a winner. And since when is 4.59 not fast???

  14. Florio,
    Come on man your article states that roughly 50% of the players taken in the first round will be busts and I agree. So the fact Haden is small and runs in the 4.6 range should be a major concern for a team. How is the guy going to cover receivers who are 5 0r 6 inches taller (Haden 5’10) and run in the 4.3 or 4.4 range.
    He was a great college corner but if this is his true speed he is going to have problems in the NFL and thats a fact. You also left out the fact that Tebow beat him in the 3 cone drill.
    For whatever reason the Gators are really struggling at the combine.

  15. “greatest player of all time”…c’mon. No one can declare legitimately any one player as that. Can’t you at least temper your self inflated opinion with “ONE OF THE GREATEST…..”
    Oh, I forgot, your entire point is to create controversy…..Colin Cowherd you ain’t.

  16. Using fractions of seconds to measure football ability has always been retarded to me. Sure Haden might not be able to chase down a Andre Johnson from behind. You get around that by not having to chase a Andre Johnson from behind using smart technique in a sound defensive scheme.

  17. I agree with jj jones — Mike Mayock is by-far the best scout/analyst. I turn the TV off when I see McShay or Kiper.

  18. @ # jj jones says: March 3, 2010 8:42 AM
    Mike Mayock has overtaken everyone as the premier source for draft information. Why anybody would rely on Kiper or McShay for anything besides laughs is beyond me.
    Mayock is an idiot as well as all the other “draft experts.”
    Mayock just made the point the other day knocking Mayes because he only had 2 picks in three years so he must not be that good.
    Ummmmmm……. nnamdi asomugha has a 1 INT per year for the last three years so that must mean he isn’t that good either according to Mayocks calculations…..
    These guys just throw shit at the wall and occasionally something sticks then they just remind people over and over about the one guy they got right in the hopes that we all forget about all the people they got wrong.
    Shit i don’t even watch much college football and i could guess correctly at least 40% of the time.

  19. What this means is that the Raiders won’t pick him. woopdy friggin doo. Hayden has said in the past that he runs just as fast in pads as he does without pads. The kid is a football player, and as long as he’s smart and takes the right steps in coverage, I don’t care if you run a 5.5, he would stay with the receiver.

  20. I never pay any attention to the combine, mock drafts or any of the other crap before draft day. It is all meaningless drivel.

  21. Nice post!
    That’s a lot of words without writing “NBC” or ”Olympics”, hope the “corporate overlords” do not punish you by making you write about hockey.. Opps sorry, I mean TV ratings…. Opps sorry again – oh never mind.

  22. “Made-for-TV draftniks” was mentioned nine times in that article.. NINE!!! This, from the person who criticized Tim Tebow for saying “blessed” too many times in an interview.. where he had to think on the fly, and didn’t have the benefit of thinking out the point he wanted to get across, before communicating it!! 99.9% of the time, I have nothing negative at all to say about the site, or Florio.. but this seems a little like the pot calling the kettle black! ;o)

  23. What they should do (maybe they do, who knows) is measure the speed players are running at after 10 yards and then again at 40 yards. How fast a guy can run at top speed is not accurately measured by how fast he covers 40 yards from a dead stop. A bad start can ruin a fast guys time. Of course being able to start quick from a stop in football is important but that can be learned. Raw speed can’t.

  24. @ Florio says: “ESPN’s junior-made-for-TV draftnik” ——-
    I find it really funny (or hypocritical) that you call out someone for being something they are not. If I had a nickel for all that shit you throw against the wall to see if it sticks and stir up controversy, I’d be “rich, bi-atch!”
    All that to say this, capitalism is a wonderful thing. No where else could folks do so little and yet earn a living. Kiper, McShay, Mayock, Florio, Rosenthal, simply amazing.
    Well played, sir, well played….

  25. @stevenh
    Revis ran a 4.39 40 at Pitt’s pro day, but had been projected as about 4.53 before he actually ran and came out faster than predicted.

  26. As a former college football player, I’m not too proud to admit that I was a very slow DBack. The only thing that saved me, is I had good instincts. Maybe it’s just me justifying my pedestrian speed 40 time, but I always felt if you could read the play just .25 seconds faster than the next guy, all of a sudden you run a 4.5 40. All I’m saying is, if someone has great instincts and anticipation, they are faster on the field, while the opposite is true as well. Case in point, the superbowl. That corner from the Saints was a full step ahead of Reggie Wayne on his break, subsequently it doesn’t really matter what he ran in the 40.

  27. “But the only honest answer to that question is, “We don’t know. Nobody knows.”
    And then the cottage industry of the made-for-TV draftniks would implode.”
    some of the most ignorant writing ive seen in a long time. obviously they dont “know” whos going to bust. there job is too try and make their best assumptions to whom is going to fair well in the nfl and who isnt. there are so many professions where people dont know whats going to happen but they make their best guess. like meteorologists, sports handicappers, and analysts of all other sports. your articles are getting more and more generic and wrong florio. i dont know what happened to this site.

  28. Apparently Emmitt Smith was too small and too slow, funny I didn’t notice it when I had to watch in horror as he ran over and past ‘Skins defenders for a decade. Terrell Davis put up a slow 40. He looked plenty quick enough on the field.
    Haden showed poor technique in the 40, but no corner back has ever started next to receiver, with one hand on the ground, knowing that it was going to be a fly route.
    Prior to the combine most scouting reports claimed he had good speed. If the game tape doesn’t show him getting beaten for speed then I am pretty sure a poor performance in a 40-yard dash isn’t something to be worried about.
    The really stupid thing is that if he had been a tenth quicker and run a 4.48 everyone would be talking about his elite speed. Run a 4.4 and you’re quick, run a 4.5 and you’re slow.

  29. hmm who to believe is more credable mike M
    or Mike F.
    i think ill go with the guy who has a clue.
    that wouldnt be lil Mikey Florio thats for damn sure. When Florio does any one thing to gain scouting cred my opinion is subject to change however its highly unlikely

  30. rodstiffington says:
    March 3, 2010 8:31 AM
    That’s the problem with ESPN. They employ WAY to many analysts, I use the term VERY loosely. And have you ever heard one of them take a paticular stand on someone/something and stick behind it?
    I point you to “Spygate”. Every one of the “analysts” that were employed during that time span (except for Salisbury) made Spygate out to be worse than the Holocaust…..so, yeah, all of them stood behind that…..lol

  31. Stretch,
    If you watched he combine coverage, you would have seen that Mayock DID show game film, both from the Senior Bowl and college careeers of some of the players (not all, but Mays and Hatden were featured). He also, repeatedly, gave the caveat that 95% of the evaluation should be game film with the 5% pre-draft testing used for healtth and conditioning evaluation. Hayden did not look as good as some of the other DBs in the drills – that was obvious even to a casual observer.

  32. Mark it down. If Haden is still on the board at the 12-13 range the Steelers will trade up for him.

  33. I don’t understand why the NFL even collects 40 times this way. During a game, everybody on the field reacts to something whether it is the snap or the QB cadence. In the Olympics, the athletes have to react to the starting gun.
    At the combine, the timers react to the athlete, which artificially decreases the athletes’ times, due to the reaction time of the timer, making them appear faster than the electronic time (see Taylor Mays). Why doesn’t the NFL just fire a gun or simulate a snap and the athlete has to react to that? Not only would you instantly be able to see the official times on the scoreboard using a simple infrared timer, but you could also get a measure of the athlete’s reaction time which would potentially be more beneficial in game situations.

  34. To be fair to McShay, he said that Haden’s time will force personnel people to simply go back and look at film of him against speedy receivers. That’s what he said.
    In this case, I think he’s right and he’s being fair.
    Haden may run a lot faster when he’s going after somebody trying to take bacon off the table.
    Its called being a football player.

  35. @big stretch
    You just compared Suh to Mays. How stupid are you? Mays is a safety, having two pics in three years is NOT a good thing. Suh is an inside D lineman you dummy. Having one pic your whole career as a DT is irrelevant because its not in a DT’s job description. Very poor example sir.

  36. Did you have a bet with someone over how many times you could say made-for-TV draftniks?

  37. Kevin,
    My point was that all the importance placed on who ran .10 seconds faster than the next guy in a straight line with no pads on seems a bit ridiculous. It wasn’t until the NFL network started broadcasting the combine that all this chatter started up.
    As for the “experts” my contention is that they could put the top 10 prospect’s names in a hat along with 5 more unknowns and pull a name out and have as much chance of that guy being the best of the class as they do with all this pre-draft talk. Seriouly how many “experts” are there now. It seems like every person with a “mic” on ESPN and NFLN just pick the most popular guys coming out and latch onto one guy in the hopes that that guy blows up in the NFL, that way they can say ” see i told you before the draft that ______ would be awesome, aren’t i am expert”
    but still i would rather have Combine talk than have to hear or watch the NBA/NHL/MLB.
    I just think the “experts” are overrated especially when the decide a guy should drop 10 spots in the draft because he runs a fraction of a second slower than another.
    Case in point DHB or Crabtree. DHB faster, Crabtree plays half a year and is obviously the better WR

  38. @ # TonyRomosTravelAgency says: March 3, 2010 10:47 AM
    @big stretch
    You just compared Suh to Mays. How stupid are you? Mays is a safety, having two pics in three years is NOT a good thing. Suh is an inside D lineman you dummy. Having one pic your whole career as a DT is irrelevant because its not in a DT’s job description. Very poor example sir.
    What the hell are you talking about? I compared the fact that Mayock expressed concern over Mayes only having 2 INTs in 3 years to the fact that NNAMDI ASOMUGHA only has 3 INTs in his last three years in the league. As for the speed it was a general comment based on the fact that Haddon is getting knocked for running a 4.5.
    NO WHERE in anything i said did I write about or infer anything about Suh.

  39. clearly urban meyer is to blame for not teaching joe haden how to get a better start on his 40 yd dash.

  40. Kevin from Philly –
    Agreed about Mayock
    Agreed about Haden. His footwork looked off compared to others. He didn’t seem comfortable without pads.

  41. “It will be 5 years before the Atlanta Falcons will be competitive again.” – Mike Florio during a PFTV segment during the ’08 offseason. Then the Falcons made the playoffs that season with rookie qb Matt Ryan.
    I guess the “junior-made-for-TV draftniks” aren’t the only idiots that make false predictions.

  42. @ Jeff -“For whatever reason the Gators are really struggling at the combine.”
    I’m not a Gator fan but I’m gonna guess they were too busy practicing football to spend time practicing running around cones or seeing who could do more reps at 225lbs.
    Combine is overrated and always will be. It’s just a showcase for the most athletic football players to shine.

  43. What a stupid and poorly written “article”.
    I bet when Florio finished it and hit the “Submit” button, he probably thought this was a masterpiece. “Mike Florio’s Opus” hahahahahaha. I bet he thought that “made-for-TV draftnik” was just such a clever moniker, right up there with “underwear olympics”.
    Oh, and as far as “nobody knows”, the same goes for predictions. After all, it was this same Florio who said the REDSKINS would be in the Super Bowl this year. And his fat, worthless fellow hack Peter King had the Bears in the Super Bowl and, as usual, his beloved Patriots.

  44. Most “experts” say the draft boards are 95% set on a players game film, the combine only changes about 5% of a players value.. NFL net and BSPN just try to get your two eyes on their channel to justify the rates they charge for commercial time… then again who are those.. ‘experts’ that say that??

  45. Florio, quit bashing the Todd McShays and Mel Kipers of the world; at least they know what they’re talking about. You’re the same guy that said less than a month ago that Colt McCoy would be a top 10 pick. Why not let the draft guys stick to the draft and you can stick to reporting news (which you do well).
    As for Haden hurting himself; it is very likely that he did. If you look back over the past 10 drafts, only 5 corners have gone top 10:
    ’02: Quentin Jammer- 4.49
    ’03: Terrence Newman- 4.37
    ’04: Dunta Robinson- 4.34
    ’05: Pacman Jones- 4.38
    ’05: Antrell Rolle- 4.48
    All of them sub 4.5 and the two that were in the high 4.4 range have struggled, Rolle so much that he was moved to FS.
    In order to be a top 10 pick you have to have the whole package and for a CB that includes owning great recovery speed. If Haden can’t improve his time at his pro-day he could easily fall into the 11-20 range.
    There’s no debating that he is a very good CB, but you have to be great to earn that top 10 slot.

  46. Bech is right… if there is one position that 40 time really and truly matters it is at CB. There hasn’t been one strictly man2man CB to come out and be successful in the past 20 years that has run slower than 4.55. Ronde Barber ran a 4.63 and he spent the majority of his career being covered up in zones and other than him, “slow” CBs haven’t been successful at all.
    BTW, for your information, Gil Brandt said himself numerous times that Jerry Rice ran a 4.4, he says that 4.6 40 stuff is a myth.

  47. I wouldn’t care if Haden ran a sub 4.6, this guy can play, period. He’s everything you want in a CB with outstanding ability to tackle and mix it up in the run game.

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