As much fun as it is to watch an offensive lineman of 300-plus pounds run a 40-yard dash, it could soon be a thing of the past. Changes could be coming to the NFL Scouting Combine that allow draft prospects to perform in testing that is more position-appropriate, as opposed to a standard for every player.
Speaking at a conference in Boston, Matt Birk, the NFL's director of player development, addressed the long-standing precedent of a 40-yard dash for all players at the combine.
"That's a project we'll be working on this offseason," Birk said, according to espn.com. "Once we look at the data that was gathered in-game this year, it may be important to know how fast a wide receiver or defensive back can go 60 yards. Maybe for an offensive lineman it's only 20 yards. We can actually see that in-game: How far are these guys running? What are the real or improved measures of importance and value as it relates to evaluating players and whether or not they should be drafted in the first round or the sixth round?"
While every player at the combine runs the 40-yard dash, the importance of the results to NFL coaches and scouts depends on position. While it is a more highly valued measure for wide receivers and defensive backs who frequently have to sprint over longer distances in a game, the 40-yard dash is of little value for offensive linemen. To wit: At the 2014 combine, Alabama offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio ran the slowest 40 time of the entire event (5.59), but still was drafted in the second round (44th overall) by the Buffalo Bills.
"I think we're in the midst of seeing some of these measurables change. I know we are," said New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton. "We're going to look at position-specific and be willing to start with a certain year and build from that point forward."
The 2015 combine ended Monday.
It's unclear whether potential changes to the combine could be in place in time for 2016.