Colts view the 40 as the most important on-field drill at the Combine


It’s not just fans and the media who make a big deal out of the 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine. NFL teams think it’s a valuable measurement as well.

Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson says that while the most important parts of the Combine are off-field work like one-on-one interviews with prospects and medical checkups, the 40-yard dash is the biggest and best part of the on-field work.

“The actual interview with the player we feel is incredibly important,” Grigson said. “It is where you find out how the player fits in so many ways from primarily a mental and character standpoint. Every year there is a guy who walks through the door that just brings tremendous energy and enthusiasm that is tangible and you make note of those types of strong interactions. The other I would say is the 40 time, not that it is or isn’t the reason to draft a guy, but at the end of the day it helps you assign proper market value to the player. Especially at those skill positions.”

Grigson said the Combine can’t do a lot to change a player’s spot on the Colts’ draft board because most of the evaluation is about what a player did on the field during his college career. But the 40 does matter.

“We honestly don’t touch our board much after the combine,” Grigson said. “I feel that is where big mistakes can be made because you are getting farther and farther away from your initial grade which was primarily off the game film, school visit and live look. Now we do add and move some guys here and there due to guys running terrible, or a player testing off the charts, or for medical reasons. For instance, there may be a WR everyone loved that you think runs 4.5 but runs 4.75 at Indy and you’re just not going to draft that guy realistically so you move him down or to your college free agent board. There’s always exceptions to the rule like Anquan Boldin but they are few and far between.”

NFL players don’t run 40 yards in a straight line very often, but make no mistake: Speed matters.

62 responses to “Colts view the 40 as the most important on-field drill at the Combine

  1. Timing the 40 yrd dash started with Paul Brown because he wanted the best athletes to play Special teams.. But have the 40 yrd dash as the most important drill.. Man I don’t know.. Belichick value the three cone drill and it seems to work for him.

  2. The Colts will get burned thinking that way.

    Straight line running for 40 yards matters little.

    It is the 3 cone drill and shuttle run – changing direction – which are much more important.

    The vertical leap for offensive linemen is probably the least valuable test.

  3. How’s Chris “4.24” Johnson been working out?

    You can probably count on one hand the number of HOF’ers with blazing speed.

  4. Patriots have the slowest WRs…yet rack up points and wins. The Raiders traditionally have the fastest WR corps…yet rack up drops and losses. Teams should think about football players first…not track stars. Think about it….a WR touches the ball 6 times a game on a good day. For thi reason alone Belichick has never drafted a first round WR. Use Detroit as the clear example of not how to build teams using WRs as foundation pieces.

  5. They need fast players because they’re going to be chasing the Patriots for the next five years.

  6. Isn’t Grigson busy trying to figure out how to create mass media hysteria about the Patriots and feeding the idiotic Indy press garbage?

  7. Here is the rule about 40 times:

    A “slow” forty time might mean nothing. Fast players sometimes run forty times that are deemed to be slow. They might be injured, might be sick that day, or they might have explosive low-end acceleration without having that extra gear.

    A fast forty time, however, means a player is fast… period.

    Now, whether or not that player can actually do anything with that speed is an entirely different story.

  8. Why would you even bother to ask RG his opinion? This guy may be the worst GM in the league. The Andrew Luck pick was a no brainer. This guy can’t evaluate NFL talent as evidenced by him trading a #1 for Trent Richardson (plus TR inflated salary) and over paying for a washed up Landry who had to cut as well. This team has zero talent on defense, zero talent on offense beside Luck and Ty Hilton (#2 type WR)……Colts fans should not be pissed at New England but instead at their booze bag owner who got nothing for Manning and forced a HOF GM in Polian out so a CFL reject like Grigson, who was on no one’s radar as GM material, could run the show.

  9. The Colts have gone 11-5 the last 3 years and have made the Playoffs 14 of the last 16 years…

    The Colts and Raiders could NOT have less in common besides both just being in the same Conference.

  10. So much of the 40 time is getting a good track start and technique in running. Good track technique can turn a 4.7 into a 4.5 in a snap. None of that has anything to do with football speed. If you want to see how fast a player is. Stand him up and slap pads and a helmet on him. Then time him. 40 time is overrated.

  11. Patriots look for the guys with the fastest 3 cone drill speeds, measuring speed in and out of cuts. That applies to both receivers and defenders. The Colts value straight line speed.
    Guess which team constantly is in conference championship and Super Bowl games.

  12. Why do I think that the longer Grigson is GM at Indy the harder it will be for Luck to carry the team on his back ?

  13. Wouldn’t a 100 yard run be a more valuable assessment than the 40 especially when combined with the agility drills? A fast 40 doesn’t do much good if you aren’t agile or if slower guys off the blocks can run you down by 60 yards


    Read the article first.

    Read his direct quote and realize how ridiculous some of you sound.

    Grigson said the interview was incredibly important to help get a read on a guy for a mental and character standpoint and looking for a guy with energy and enthusiasm.

    He said speed is especially important for the specialty and WR positions.

    This is an insanely misleading bait-trap headline that clearly caught a few of you.

    READ. HIS. QUOTE. Then comment.

  15. as Bill Parcells used to say “you can’t tell a whole lot about a football player watching him run in a straight line wearing shorts and tennis sneakers”…, interviews, backround research…from combine drills the 3-cone, vertical and broad jump are more important to mostpositions because they measure explosiveness, abilty to change direction and quickness….40 is only important for a WR, but not even as important as the others (see Heyward-Bey, Stephen Hill, Ted Ginn Jr, Cordarrelle Paterson, etc…)

  16. Al Davis agrees with the Colts. Funny how the rest of the league maintains his philosophies openly now that he’s dead.

  17. This coming from the guy whose last 2 first round picks were inactive for the AFC Title game!

  18. xli2006, he greater point is why even ask Grigson? What has he accomplished as GM for Indy? Other than Luck, Hilton (#2 type WR) and Vontae Davis 9who Polian drafted), this team is terrible….benefited from playing in worst division in football with TN, Texans and Jax….toally exposed in 4 straight games against NE as soft an lacking talent

  19. To me, the 40 time is like a job interview where you already know the questions that will be asked by a prospective employer. Is it hugely important on the field? No, but to me it says a lot about the player’s work ethic because there’s no excuse not to run at the expected/projected time (if not exceeding it) when you have months to prepare and know it’s coming.

  20. Matt says:
    Feb 17, 2015 3:08 PM
    Al Davis agrees with the Colts. Funny how the rest of the league maintains his philosophies openly now that he’s dead.

    What I think is even funnier is how it wasn’t that long ago that EVERYONE was ridiculing Al & the Raiders for all the ‘out-dated’ press-man coverage they traditionally employ – insisting that they had to ‘get with the times’ and switch to Cover-2….any yet, here we are with Cover-2 gurus like Monte Kiffen being ushered out of the NFL, Tampa and their D looking terrible, etc, while the fans, media and ‘experts’ pay tribute to the dominant ‘single-high safety press-man’ coverage of the Seahawks – Al’s trademark.

    As USUAL, Al was right…BUT you need the players to make that D be what it can be and sadly, THAT’S where he fell off in his later years. When we last went to the SB with Woodson & Woodson in the secondary AND a D-Line that brought pressure, no one criticized him. It’s when he missed on the talent level that the D looked horrible.

    I do think Al should have updated a Raiders Trademark – “TALENTED Speed Kills!”

  21. Grigson is too easy a target now, especially for Pats fans. His rep is going only to get worse as the phony, deflategate story gets fully told. But the story here is how ludicrous his comment on the 40 yd dash times.

    Anyone who claims more than a casual interest in the game would know that Football is a game of quickness and acceleration, and NOT of speed.

    The 3 cone drill is a decent indicator of that. I doubt Wes Welker ever ran better than a 4.6 40, yet his 3 cone time at his combine was one of the best. Same goes for Barry Sanders and a ton of other successful NFL players. I would wager Darrelle Revis would be in the top 20 of CB 40 times.

    I find it amazing how every year so many players rise or fall just because of what they do in the underwear Olympics.

  22. Look at all these fools falling for what a GM says at a presser. He’s not going to tell you anything about their actual evaluation process. In fact it’s probably the opposite of eac what he says.

  23. Grigson gave up a #1 for Trent, Spent a #1 pick on a player whop was a healthy scratch at the end of the year and gave Landry a fat contract. He will be out of a job soon.

  24. We all know what running fast to catch a bomb from Andrew Luck can do to your team… and what being as slow as Tom Brady is can do.

    It is as simple as these two numbers : 45-7

  25. The combine is perhaps the dumbest thing ever in regards to evaluating football talent. Who cares what a guy can do in a gym or on a track? It’s pointless.

    At least this guy has some brains in his head talking about getting to know character, etc. because that is the only thing that should matter to anyone at the combine.

    I think Raiders fans should know best that speed doesn’t’ mean a damn thing if the guy can’t play football.

    Let’s also keep in mind this genius traded a #1 pick for maybe the slowest running back in football. Without Luck I’m sure he’d have been fired by now because that team might have won 2 games last year if that were the case.

  26. Personally the 10-yard split means a lot more to me. Combined, as others have said, with the 3-cone and shuttle as measures of agility and change-of-direction.

    After that I look at the broad jump and vertical leap as indicators of explosiveness. Vertical leap being even more important at the DB, WR and TE positions for obvious reasons and even moreso if the DB, WR or TE is shorter than prototype for the position.

  27. The only 40 I’m ever worried about is having 40 beers in the fridge before the early game kicks off.

  28. Actually, xli2006, the headline is dead accurate. It states exactly what Grigson said. It is the most important on-field drill. I don’t agree, but I have heard opinions that the 40 and the bench-press, while not strong indicators of actual football skills, are drills that benefit from preparation, so a guy who only looks fairly fast on tape but runs a fast 40 is either faster than you thought or did a good job of preparing for the drill, both of which are positives. Again, I don’t agree, but I can see the logic there.

  29. If Mel Kiper and Mayock had been broadcasters in the early 80s:

    “The 49ers are morons for drafting this guy nobody has heard of from Mississippi Valley State. This guy is not worthy of being a 1st round draft pick. I mean, he ran a 4.7 40! You can’t teach speed! Who is this Jerry Rice guy?”

  30. For evaluating football skills, the only use the 40 yard dash would have is if you timed the first 10 yards or so of it. Beyond that it is just the team hoping the guys who have the fastest 40s are also the ones who were fastest to the shorter distance.

    Of all the tests done at the combine, it is the least applicable to football with the possible exception of the bench press drill. And even that test probably has some use as it pertains to linemen.

  31. HE DID
    He started coverage in 1984. And he knew who he was.

    granadafan says:Feb 17, 2015 5:34 PM

    If Mel Kiper and Mayock had been broadcasters in the early 80s:

    “The 49ers are morons for drafting this guy nobody has heard of from Mississippi Valley State. This guy is not worthy of being a 1st round draft pick. I mean, he ran a 4.7 40! You can’t teach speed! Who is this Jerry Rice guy?”

  32. This guy Grigson knows what he’s talking about. The fact that 28 teams are picking ahead of him, and he took over a 2-14 team, tells me that I might learn something from listening to this guy.

  33. I’m not sure why there’s so many references to the Patriots in this thread. The Patriots, like the Colts, win games because they have a world-class QB. The Patriots best players come from free agency. Why? Because they don’t actually draft especially well.

  34. darthbelichick07 says:
    Feb 17, 2015 2:28 PM
    How’s Chris “4.24” Johnson been working out?

    Considering he had 6 straight 1000-yard seasons and a 2000 yard one, I’d say pretty well. You probably could’ve used a better example.

  35. The people here ripping on Grigson must have only read the headline and didn’t actually read the entire article. It’s pretty clear from reading it that a 40 yard dash time is one component of the entire process. If I recall right, someone actually did a study a few years back to determine how important the 40 yard time was and the results indicated that the 40 time actually was a pretty good indicator of whether a player was going to be successful in the league.

  36. “This day of MONSTER 40 TIME,The Tidal Wave Of Deal making…Shocks the system of “..Didn’t see THIS ONE COMING!!!!!!” Grig’s Rollin’ Dice!”

    – Irsay on the impending signing of CJ.663k

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