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O.J. Howard is fast.

As I have done for the last few years, this week I will be using the raw NFL combine data and adjusting them various metrics.  With respect to the 40-yard dash, the only adjustment I’ve made is for weight, as no other variable (e.g., height) impacts a player’s 40 time quite like weight.  The best-fit formula to predict 40-yard dash time during the 2017 combine was 3.283 + 0.00606 x weight. ((This time around, I excluded punters, kickers, and long snappers when running regressions, as those players aren’t invited to their combine for their raw athleticism (and removing them made the numbers a little tighter). As you can see

Let’s use Alabama tight end O.J. Howard as an example.  He weighed 251 pounds at the combine, which means he would be projected to run the 40-yard dash in 4.81 seconds. Instead, he ran it in just 4.51 seconds, a full 0.30 better than expected.

That was the best performance of any player at the combine. A very close second was produced by the presumptive number one pick in the draft, Myles Garrett. The Texas A&M defensive end weighed 272 pounds, so using the formula above, a player of Garrett’s size should run the 40 in 4.93 seconds.  But Garrett was 0.29 seconds better than expected, completing the drill in 4.64 seconds. Garrett reportedly bested that time by running 40 yards in 4.57 seconds at his Pro Day, too.

RkNameCollegePosWtExp 40Act 40Diff
1O.J. HowardAlabamaTE2514.814.510.30
2Myles GarrettTexas A&MDE2724.934.640.29
3Evan EngramMississippiTE2344.704.420.28
4Bucky HodgesVirginia TechTE2574.844.570.27
5Aviante CollinsTCUOT2955.074.810.26
6George KittleIowaTE2474.784.520.26
7Montravius AdamsAuburnDT3045.134.870.26
8Solomon ThomasStanfordDE2734.944.690.25
9Trey HendricksonFlorida AtlanticDE2664.904.650.25
10Obi MelifonwuConnecticutS2244.644.400.24
11Ben BradenMichiganOG3295.285.040.24
12Jessamen DunkerTennessee St.OG3185.214.980.23
13Darrell DanielsWashingtonTE2474.784.550.23
14Leonard FournetteLSURB2404.744.510.23
15Malik McDowellMichigan St.DT2955.074.850.22
16Jalen MyrickMinnesotaCB2004.504.280.22
17Tarell BashamOhioDE2694.914.700.21
18Takkarist McKinleyUCLADE2504.804.590.21
19Josh JonesN.C. StateS2204.624.410.21
20Tanoh KpassagnonVillanovaDE2895.044.830.21
21John RossWashingtonWR1884.424.220.20
22Charles WalkerOklahomaDT3105.164.960.20
23Haason ReddickTempleDE2374.724.520.20
24Carl LawsonAuburnDE2614.874.670.20
25Fabian MoreauUCLACB2064.534.350.18
26Adam ShaheenAshlandTE2784.974.790.18
27D.J. JonesMississippiDT3195.225.040.18
28Derek RiversYoungstown St.DE2484.794.610.18
29Robert DavisGeorgia StateWR2194.614.440.17
30Jonnu SmithFlorida InternationalTE2484.794.620.17
31Larry OgunjobiNorth Carolina CharlotteDT3055.134.970.16
32Curtis SamuelOhio St.WR1964.474.310.16
33Forrest LampWestern KentuckyOG3095.165.000.16
34Montae NicholsonMichigan St.S2124.574.420.15
35Josh MaloneTennesseeWR2084.544.400.14
36Eddie VanderdoesUCLADT3055.134.990.14
37Jeremiah LedbetterArkansasDE2804.984.840.14
38Daeshon HallTexas A&MDE2664.904.760.14
39David NjokuMiamiTE2464.784.640.14
40Garett BollesUtahOT2975.084.950.13
41Tyus BowserHoustonLB2474.784.650.13
42Amara DarbohMichiganWR2144.584.450.13
43Billy BrownShepherdWR2554.834.700.13
44Raekwon McMillanOhio St.LB2404.744.610.13
45Ifeadi OdenigboNorthwesternDL2584.854.720.13
46Delano HillMichiganSS2164.594.470.12
47Jeremy SprinkleArkansasTE2524.814.690.12
48T.J. WattWisconsinLB2524.814.690.12
49Jabrill PeppersMichiganLB2134.584.460.12
50Alex AnzaloneFloridaLB2414.744.630.11
51Dawuane SmootIllinoisDE2644.884.770.11
52Gerald EverettSouth AlabamaTE2394.734.620.11
53Carroll PhillipsIllinoisDE2424.754.640.11
54Duke RileyLSUOLB2324.694.580.11
55Danny IsidoraMiamiOG3065.145.030.11
56Brian AllenUtahDB2154.594.480.11
57Kenny GolladayNorthern IllinoisWR2184.614.500.11
58Vince BiegelWisconsinOLB2464.784.670.11
59T.J. LoganNorth CarolinaRB1964.474.370.10
60Avery MossYoungstown St.DE2644.884.790.09
61Marshon LattimoreOhio St.CB1934.454.360.09
62Mack HollinsNorth CarolinaWR2214.624.530.09
63Isaac RochellNotre DameDT2804.984.890.09
64Jeremy McNicholsBoise St.RB2144.584.490.09
65Cordrea TankersleyClemsonCB1994.494.400.09
66Cam RobinsonAlabamaOT3225.245.150.09
67Shaquill GriffinCentral FloridaDB1944.464.380.08
68Noble NwachukwuWest VirginiaDE2684.914.830.08
69Chidobe AwuzieColoradoCB2024.514.430.08
70Dion DawkinsTempleOG3145.195.110.08
71Jermaine EluemunorTexas A&MOL3325.305.220.08
72Blair BrownOhioLB2384.734.650.08
73Marlon MackSouth FloridaRB2134.584.500.08
74Brendan LangleyLamarCB2014.504.430.07
75Brian HillWyomingRB2194.614.540.07
76Krishawn HoganMarian (IN)WR2224.634.560.07
77Marlon HumphreyAlabamaCB1974.484.410.07
78Ricky Seals-JonesTexas A&MWR2434.764.690.07
79Dalvin CookFlorida St.RB2104.564.490.07
80Kevin KingWashingtonCB2004.504.430.07
81Fred RossMississippi St.WR2134.584.510.07
82Cethan CarterNebraskaTE2414.744.680.06
83DeAngelo HendersonCoastal CarolinaRB2084.544.480.06
84Zach PascalOld DominionWR2194.614.550.06
85Michael RobertsToledoTE2704.924.860.06
86Quincy AdeboyejoMississippiWR1974.484.420.06
87Vincent TaylorOklahoma St.DT3045.135.070.06
88Amba Etta-TawoSyracuseWR2084.544.490.05
89Jerome LaneAkronWR2264.654.600.05
90Zay JonesEast CarolinaWR2014.504.450.05
91Elijah QuallsWashingtonDT3135.185.130.05
92Elijah McGuireLouisiana-LafayetteRB2144.584.530.05
93Jehu ChessonMichiganWR2044.524.470.05
94JuJu Smith-SchusterUSCWR2154.594.540.05
95James ConnerPittsburghRB2334.704.650.05
96Samaje PerineOklahomaRB2334.704.650.05
97Bug HowardNorth CarolinaWR2214.624.580.04
98Taco CharltonMichiganDE2774.964.920.04
99Taylor MotonWestern MichiganOG3195.225.180.04
100Ryan AndersonAlabamaOLB2534.824.780.04
101Dylan DonahueWest GeorgiaDL2484.794.750.04
102Michael RectorStanfordWR1934.454.420.03
103Zach CunninghamVanderbiltLB2344.704.670.03
104ArDarius StewartAlabamaWR2044.524.490.03
105Carlos HendersonLouisiana TechWR1994.494.460.03
106Christian McCaffreyStanfordRB2024.514.480.03
107Gareon ConleyOhio St.CB1954.474.440.03
108Christopher CarsonOklahoma St.RB2184.614.580.03
109Nate GerryNebraskaS2184.614.580.03
110Jamal AdamsLSUS2144.584.560.02
111Alvin KamaraTennesseeRB2144.584.560.02
112Connor HarrisLindenwoodILB2424.754.730.02
113Jonathan AllenAlabamaDE2865.025.000.02
114Nazair JonesNorth CarolinaDT3045.135.110.02
115Budda BakerWashingtonS1954.474.450.02
116Stacy ColeyMiamiWR1954.474.450.02
117Taywan TaylorWestern KentuckyWR2034.514.500.01
118Ethan PocicLSUC3105.165.150.01
119Ben GedeonMichiganILB2444.764.750.01
120Josh CarrawayTCUDE2424.754.740.01
121Caleb BrantleyFloridaDT3075.155.140.01
122Chuck ClarkVirginia TechDB2084.544.540.00
123Fadol BrownMississippiDE2734.944.940.00
124Charles HarrisMissouriDE2534.824.820.00
125Jalen RobinetteAir ForceWR2204.624.620.00
126Tanner VallejoBoise St.LB2284.674.670.00
127Devonte' FieldsLouisvilleOLB2364.714.72-0.01
128Adoree JacksonUSCCB1864.414.42-0.01
129Rodney AdamsSouth FloridaWR1894.434.44-0.01
130Wayne GallmanClemsonRB2154.594.60-0.01
131Corey LevinTennessee-ChattanoogaOL3075.155.16-0.01
132Ryan GlasgowMichiganDT3025.115.13-0.02
133Aaron JonesTexas-El PasoRB2084.544.56-0.02
134Jayon BrownUCLALB2314.684.70-0.02
135Tashawn BowerLSUDE2504.804.82-0.02
136Chad HansenCaliforniaWR2024.514.53-0.02
137Scott OrndoffPittsburghTE2534.824.84-0.02
138K.D. CannonBaylorWR1824.394.41-0.02
139Derek BarnettTennesseeDE2594.854.88-0.03
140Dalvin TomlinsonAlabamaDT3105.165.19-0.03
141Kareem HuntToledoRB2164.594.62-0.03
142Sean HarlowOregon St.OG3035.125.15-0.03
143Jack TochoN.C. StateCB2024.514.54-0.03
144Garrett SickelsPenn St.DE2614.874.90-0.03
145Matt MilanoBoston CollegeOLB2234.644.67-0.03
146Jamal CarterMiamiS2184.614.64-0.03
147Conor McDermottUCLAOT3075.155.18-0.03
148Antonio GarciaTroyOT3025.115.15-0.04
149Deshaun WatsonClemsonQB2214.624.66-0.04
150Ken EkanemVirginia TechDL2574.844.88-0.04
151Rasul DouglasWest VirginiaCB2094.554.59-0.04
152Michael TysonCincinnatiS2044.524.56-0.04
153Shalom LuaniWashington St.S2024.514.55-0.04
154Jamari StaplesLouisvilleWR1954.474.51-0.04
155Joshua DobbsTennesseeQB2164.594.64-0.05
156Freddie StevensonFlorida St.FB2344.704.75-0.05
157Malachi DupreLSUWR1964.474.52-0.05
158Nate HairstonTempleCB1964.474.52-0.05
159Tarik CohenNorth Carolina A&TRB1794.374.42-0.05
160Kyle FullerBaylorCB1904.444.49-0.05
161Shelton GibsonWest VirginiaWR1914.444.50-0.06
162Sidney JonesWashingtonCB1864.414.47-0.06
163Josh ReynoldsTexas A&MWR1944.464.52-0.06
164Travin DuralLSUWR2024.514.57-0.06
165Al-Quadin MuhammadMiamiDE2534.824.88-0.06
166Corey ClementWisconsinRB2204.624.68-0.06
167John JohnsonBoston CollegeS2084.544.61-0.07
168Jadar JohnsonClemsonS2064.534.60-0.07
169Keon HatcherArkansasWR2124.574.64-0.07
170Dare OgunbowaleWisconsinRB2134.584.65-0.07
171David SharpeFloridaOT3435.365.44-0.08
172Tedric ThompsonColoradoFS2044.524.60-0.08
173Rushel ShellWest VirginiaRB2274.664.74-0.08
174Hayden PlinkeTexas-El PasoTE2644.884.97-0.09
175Treston DecoudOregon St.CB2064.534.62-0.09
176Justin VogelMiamiP2194.614.70-0.09
177Hardy NickersonIllinoisLB2324.694.78-0.09
178Ashton LampkinOklahoma St.CB1894.434.52-0.09
179Ejuan PricePittsburghDE2414.744.84-0.10
180Cameron SuttonTennesseeCB1884.424.52-0.10
181Isaac AsiataUtahOG3235.245.34-0.10
182Cooper KuppEastern WashingtonWR2044.524.62-0.10
183Sam TeviUtahOT3115.175.27-0.10
184Keevan LucasTulsaWR1924.454.55-0.10
185Adam BisnowatyPittsburghOT3045.135.23-0.10
186Noel ThomasConnecticutWR2054.534.63-0.10
187Davon GodchauxLSUDT3105.165.27-0.11
188Dan FeeneyIndianaOG3055.135.24-0.11
189Jerod EvansVirginia TechQB2324.694.80-0.11
190Jourdan LewisMichiganCB1884.424.54-0.12
191Davis WebbCaliforniaQB2294.674.79-0.12
192Erik AustellCharleston SouthernOT3015.115.23-0.12
193Ethan CooperIndiana (PA)OG3225.245.36-0.12
194Ryan SwitzerNorth CarolinaWR1814.384.51-0.13
195Donnel PumphreySan Diego St.RB1764.354.48-0.13
196Jalen "Teez" TaborFloridaCB1994.494.62-0.13
197Jarron JonesNotre DameDT3165.205.33-0.13
198Gabe MarksWashington St.WR1894.434.56-0.13
199Nico SiragusaSan Diego St.OG3195.225.35-0.13
200DeShone KizerNotre DameQB2334.704.83-0.13
201Avery GennesyTexas A&MOT3185.215.35-0.14
202Damontae KazeeSan Diego St.CB1844.404.54-0.14
203Isaiah FordVirginia TechWR1944.464.61-0.15
204Patrick MahomesTexas TechQB2254.654.80-0.15
205Zach BannerUSCOT3535.425.58-0.16
206Artavis ScottClemsonWR1934.454.61-0.16
207Corn ElderMiamiCB1834.394.55-0.16
208Stevie Tu'ikolovatuUSCDT3315.295.45-0.16
209Tanzel SmartTulaneDT2965.085.24-0.16
210Kendrick BourneEastern WashingtonWR2034.514.68-0.17
211Nathan PetermanPittsburghQB2264.654.82-0.17
212Dorian JohnsonPittsburghOG3005.105.27-0.17
213Channing StriblingMichiganCB1884.424.60-0.18
214Victor BoldenOregon St.WR1784.364.54-0.18
215Lorenzo JeromeSt. Francis (PA)S2044.524.70-0.18
216Jaleel JohnsonIowaDT3165.205.38-0.18
217Jahad ThomasTempleRB1904.444.62-0.18
218James QuickLouisvilleWR1864.414.60-0.19
219Art MauletMemphisDB1894.434.62-0.19
220Pat ElfleinOhio St.C3035.125.32-0.20
221Kevin DavisColorado St.LB2354.714.91-0.20
222Jordan MorganKutztown (PA)OG3095.165.36-0.20
223Nate TheakerWayne St. (MI)OG3155.195.41-0.22
224Travis RudolphFlorida St.WR1894.434.65-0.22
225Devine ReddingIndianaRB2054.534.76-0.23
226Julie'n DavenportBucknellOT3185.215.45-0.24
227Sam RogersVirginia TechFB2314.684.93-0.25
228Trent TaylorLouisiana TechWR1814.384.63-0.25
229Justin SeniorMississippi St.OT3315.295.55-0.26
230Dan SkipperArkansasOT3095.165.42-0.26
231Cooper RushCentral MichiganQB2284.674.93-0.26
232Cameron LeeIllinois St.OG3125.185.44-0.26
233Mitch LeidnerMinnesotaQB2264.654.93-0.28
234Drew MorganArkansasWR1904.444.74-0.30
235Chase RoullierWyomingC3125.185.54-0.36
236Jon TothKentuckyC3075.155.51-0.36
237Jerry UgokweWilliam & MaryOT3215.235.61-0.38
238Sefo LiufauColoradoQB2324.695.08-0.39
239Colin HolbaLouisvilleLS2484.795.19-0.40
240Cameron JohnstonOhio St.P1944.464.92-0.46
241Jake ElliottMemphisK1674.304.79-0.49
242Damien MamaUSCOG3345.315.84-0.53
243Bradley NorthnagelCaliforniaLS2434.765.30-0.54

Some other notes: Leonard Fournette ran the best weight-adjusted 40 for all running backs, while WR John Ross had the best weight-adjusted 40 time for receivers.  Ross, of course, ran the 40 in a record 4.22 seconds, but he also weighed in at only 188 pounds.  By comparison, Garrett was 84 pounds heavier and took “only” 0.42 more seconds. That’s 2 pounds of additional weight he was carrying for every hundredth of a second, while the regression says that 1.65 pounds of weight should cost an extra 0.01 seconds.

  • Andrew Carrier

    Very interesting. This does seem to favor heavier players because smaller players can only run so fast while heavier players have a wider possible range. Maybe you could judge standard deviations from the median for players within 5 lbs of that weight.

    • I was thinking this too — there is a limit to how fast a human realistically run regardless of weight, and this seems to favor heavier players. (It reminds me of era-adjusted field goal kicking comparisons, in that guys from the current era can’t compete with guys from an earlier era because everybody is good now, and there is an upper bound of 100% accuracy.)

      However, maybe this is part of the point. Since players can only run so fast, perhaps you *should* be favoring heavier guys as they are bigger and aren’t going to be *that* much slower than smaller guys.

    • James

      I get your point, but that problem should be (largely) resolved by the regression. If heavier players are able to run as fast as lighter players, then there’d be no relationship between weight and speed and no one would get a boost. However, the regression proves that there *is* a relationship, so we should credit the fast and heavy players accordingly.

      Now could you argue that it’s easier to decrease your time by “10 pounds” when you weigh 250 compared to 190? Probably! But as Jim Zorns said, players that are both heavier *and* faster are more valuable! And to that point I think the bigger issue is this metric is more useful for some positions than others.

      For instance, I don’t know how much I care about a WR’s weight adjusted 40. I think DeSean Jackson’s pure speed is more valuable than if he were both 10 pounds heavier and slower. But I do think it’s telling for players that rely on both size and speed, notably DEs, TEs, and RBs. That’s presuming weight is a good proxy for their abilities in the run game, speed for the passing game, and weight adjusted 40s a good proxy for both.

      I think this metric may be best used to help put the elite prospects in context – if you think someone is great *and* they test well in this metric, you’re probably right (see Donald, Clowney, Elliott, Beasley, CJ2k, etc) but it isn’t reliable on its own.

  • Here is a charge showing weight on the X-Axis, and weight adjusted 40 time (the difference column) relative to average.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/78f73cacd55a86de7b74568c873805395eb011ec616d5e39096063e927f816fc.png