The 2005 RB class:
Let’s look at the previous three years of running back prospects. And let’s take into account all the best recorded 40 times we had noted, whether it was at the Combine or in a personal or pro day workout. In 2005, Cal’s J.J. Arrington (Cardinals) was the top major-college back with his 4.4 40. Miami’s Frank Gore (49ers), with his college history of knee injuries, finished 54th with a 4.65.
Since then, Arrington has yet to break 1,000 yards from scrimmage, while Gore has the most yards from scrimmage than anyone in the '05 class. As for the most rushing touchdowns from the '05 class, that’s Marion Barber, who ran the 21st-fastest pre-draft 40.
But in the same year, maybe someone should have paid more attention to Notre Dame’s Ryan Grant and his 4.43, which was good for a fourth-place tie. He went undrafted; three seasons later, he is a big-play runner for the Packers.
The 2007 RB class:
Last year, not surprisingly, Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson (Vikings) and Cal’s Marshawn Lynch (Bills) both were among the top 10 in 40 times. Ahmad Bradshaw, on the other hand, probably wouldn’t have lasted long enough to become a seventh-round steal for the Giants if he hadn’t “unimpressed” most teams with his 28th-best 4.57 mark.RB summary:
When it comes to translating the 40-yard times into NFL performance, the results are mixed. A running back needs to have many other assets than, well, running well. Size, strength, power and quickness all carry their own weight, as does going to a team with good run blocking and a system designed for a back’s particular style.As for wide receivers, "you can put their 40-yard times in the shredder based on what has happened recently."
Among the top 10 40-yard dashers in ‘05, from 4.26 to 4:39 seconds: Jerome Mathis, Troy Williamson, Courtney Roby, Matt Jones, Craphonso Thorpe, Mark Bradley and Terrence Murphy. The other three went undrafted. Braylon Edwards easily has been the best wide receiver of the class, despite posting a 4.45, tied for 21st-best.Conclusion:
The NFL is a very fast game, but it isn’t played in a straight line and its results can’t be measured by a stopwatch. The only result that matters in football is winning, and the best way to distinguish winning backs and receivers from the rest remains how they do in games.