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Combine's popular 40-yard dash shrouded in secrecy

The SportsXchange

INDIANAPOLIS -- Even as public interest soars for the premier event of its Underwear Olympics, the NFL Scouting Combine is expected to feign accuracy and tiptoe around transparency when results are announced for the 40-yard dashes that start here Saturday.

Touted -- or some would say hyped -- as a key element in evaluating draft hopefuls every year, the 40-yard sprint scrutinizes their speed to a hundredth of a second, a span of time quicker than an average blink.

Combine officials are so focused on the importance of this high-profile event that they use three different methods -- including one that is semi-secret and another with a redundant backup -- to clock players on each of their two runs.

That yields eight times for each player in the 40-yard dash.

From that significant data, without explanation or perspective, they announce one 40-yard time per player that is considered official by the hundreds of grateful media here, and millions of fans viewing from afar via NFL Network and NFL.com.

It's not necessarily the fastest. It's not necessarily the most accurate. It's just necessary. And at the end of the day, it is sort of academic because NFL teams, coaches and scouts keep their own times and don't consider anything official.

"Fast guys are fast, slow guys are slow and a 40-yard time from one day at one combine shouldn't change the course of a football player's career," observed Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen. "NFL teams, coaches and scouts keep their own times anyway and use combine data as a reference."

Regardless, National Football Scouting, the NFL team co-op in charge of the combine, continues to seek a single best acceptable timing method.

The Sports Xchange confirmed that the combine will have fully automated timing (FAT) in place, ostensibly as an ongoing test, for the fourth consecutive year, although it remains unclear if, how and with whom the resulting data will be shared.

Meantime, TSX was told that the times announced by the NFL again will be the result of a hybrid process -- with clocks started by hand and stopped electronically. This yields results that are slower than purely hand-held clockings and faster than fully automated times.

What's the big deal?

The disparity in results among those processes could create a culture shock with football players who, historically, believed elite runners are timed in the 4.3-second range.

The fastest time announced at the combine this century was 4.24 seconds by East Carolina (Tennessee Titans) running back Chris Johnson in 2008. That happened to be both his hand held and hybrid time.

Based on empirical data kept for the last few years, his fully automated time might have been as high as 4.49 seconds -- hardly elite in football circles.

"Our data from thousands of timings isn't exact, but the difference in methods can add up to .25 seconds to the totally hand-held times," advised Mark Weinstein, founder and president of Colorado-based Zybek Sports, which provides the electronic Power Dash 3X devices for the combine and many pro day workouts.

"That is comparing hand held to fully automated timing. At the combine, I think they announce the hand-start, electronic finish time."

As evidence that this is a difference that makes a difference, NFLDraftScout.com lists three players that had combine times faster than Johnson this century -- a pair of 4.21 clockings by wide receivers Trindon Holliday (2010, LSU/Houston, Denver) and Marquis Goodwin (2013, Texas/Buffalo) and a 4.22 by Jacoby Ford (2010, Clemson/Oakland).

However, those hand-held times were not announced as the NFL went with their hybrid times -- Holliday at 4.34, Goodwin at 4.27 and Ford with a 4.28.

Weinstein is working with the NFL, college and high school football officials to create a standardized method that will minimize the impact on the timing process on 40-yard times across the board.

"It would be great if 40-yard times from high schools through the NFL were based on the same process, making those times easier to keep in perspective," he said.

Although Weinstein is providing NFL officials with fully automated times, he acknowledges that those results are still being "studied" and does not know when, or if, these times will be made public.

However, he says that due to well-trained scouts, the combine's system of starting times by hand and stopping electronically is the closest he has seen to fully automated.

"Terrance, who starts the time from five yards up the field does a tremendous job at the combine," said Weinstein, naming Minnesota Vikings scout Terrance Gray, who has handled that chore for several years. "With him starting and our electronic finish, the difference from fully automated is in the hundredths of a second, .07 to .09.

"That's great for the combine, but all those pro days and high schools don't have Terrance. So we hope our electronic timing can help level the playing field."

Meanwhile, times announced at the NFL Scouting Combine are once again expected to avoid a football culture shock by staying away from the FAT results. And those announced times will be attached to those players for the rest of their career, even beyond.

According to NFLDraftScout.com analysts Rob Rang and Dane Brugler, the fastest time expected at this year's combine should be about 4.38 seconds.

Rang says it will be run by Colorado wide receiver Paul Richardson and Brugler says Oregon running back DeAnthony Thomas will get that clocking.

However, neither of them mentioned, or probably cared, what timing method would create that result.

"They're both fast and that won't change," Rang said. "Football teams just want players, but history loves to keep track of these details."

Indeed it does. Below are lists of the top results from the NFL Scouting Combine since 2000.

Results of the headline event, the 40-yard dash, are listed in order of the fastest verified time at the combine, regardless of the method used. Also included are the NFL's announced times for those same 40-yard dashes.

Top Results from NFL Scouting Combines: 2000-2013

Fastest 40-Yard Dash Times

Fastest time, (fastest announced), Player, Pos. School, Year

4.21 (4.34) - Trindon Holliday, (WR), LSU - 2010

4.21 (4.27) - Marquise Goodwin, (WR), Texas - 2013

4.22 (4.28) - Jacoby Ford, (WR), Clemson - 2010

4.24 (4.24) - Chris Johnson, (RB), East Carolina - 2008

4.25 (4.30) - *Darrius Heyward-Bey, (WR), Maryland - 2009

4.25 (4.28) - DeMarcus Van Dyke, (CB), Miami - 2011

4.26 (4.28) - Jerome Mathis, (WR), Hampton - 2005

4.27 (4.37) - C.J. Spiller, (RB), Clemson - 2010

4.27 (4.27) - Stanford Routt, (CB), Houston - 2005

4.28 (4.33) - Mike Wallace, (WR), Mississippi - 2009

4.28 (4.36) - *Stephen Hill, (WR), Georgia Tech - 2012

4.28 (4.34) - Tavon Austin, (WR), West Virginia - 2013

4.28 (4.34) - Onterio McCalebb, (RB), Auburn - 2013

4.29 (4.33) - Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, (CB), Tenn State - 2008

4.29 (4.29) - *Fabian Washington, (CB), Nebraska - 2005

4.29 (4.29) - Johnny Knox, (WR), Abilene Christian - 2009

4.29 (4.33) - *Josh Robinson, (CB), Central Florida - 2012

4.30 (4.30) - Yamon Figurs, (WR), Kansas State - 2007

4.30 (4.30) - Darrent Williams, (CB), Oklahoma State - 2005

4.30 (4.40) - Mike Thomas, (WR), Arizona - 2009

4.31 (4.31) - Aaron Lockett, (WR), Kansas State - 2002

4.31 (4.38) - Deon Butler, (WR), Penn State - 2009

4.31 (4.31) - *Justin King, (CB), Penn State - 2008

4.31 (4.31) - Tyvon Branch, (CB), Connecticut - 2008

4.31 (4.34) - *Patrick Peterson, (CB), LSU - 2011

4.31 (4.31) - Santana Moss, (WR), Miami - 2001

4.31 (4.43) - Taylor Mays, (FS), Southern Cal - 2010

4.31 (4.36) - Chris Owusu, (WR), Stanford - 2012

Fastest 20-Yard Splits (40-yard dash)

2.40 - *Stephon Gilmore, (CB), South Carolina - 2012

2.41 - Chris Johnson, (RB), East Carolina - 2008

2.41 - Marquise Goodwin, (WR), Texas - 2013

2.41 - C.J. Spiller, (RB), Clemson - 2010

2.43 - *Fabian Washington, (CB), Nebraska - 2005

2.43 - Chris Rainey, (RB), Florida - 2012

2.44 - Karl Paymah, (CB), Washington State - 2005

2.44 - Jacoby Ford, (WR), Clemson - 2010

2.44 - *Patrick Peterson, (CB), LSU - 2011

2.45 - Mike Wallace, (WR), Mississippi - 2009

2.45 - Coty Sensabaugh, (CB), Clemson - 2012

2.46 - Emmanuel Sanders, (WR), Southern Methodist - 2010

2.46 - *Justin King, (CB), Penn State - 2008

2.46 - Terry Hawthorne, (CB), Illinois - 2013

2.46 - Aundrae Allison, (WR), East Carolina - 2007

2.46 - *Steve Williams, (CB), California - 2013

2.46 - Kayvon Webster, (CB), South Florida - 2013

2.46 - Taylor Mays, (FS), Southern Cal - 2010

2.46 - Aldrick Robinson, (WR), Southern Methodist - 2011

2.46 - Roc Alexander, (CB), Washington - 2004

2.47 - Darius Slay, (CB), Mississippi State - 2013

2.47 - Chimdi Chekwa, (CB), Ohio State - 2011

2.47 - Devon Wylie, (WR), Fresno State - 2012

2.47 - Trindon Holliday, (WR), LSU - 2010

2.47 - Chris McKenzie, (CB), Arizona State - 2005

Fastest 10-Yard Splits (40-yard dash)

1.40 - Chris Johnson, (RB), East Carolina - 2008

1.40 - *Justin King, (CB), Penn State - 2008

1.40 - Cedric Peerman, (RB), Virginia - 2009

1.41 - Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, (CB), Tennessee State - 2008

1.43 - Aundrae Allison, (WR), East Carolina - 2007

1.43 - Antwaun Molden, (CB), Eastern Kentucky - 2008

1.43 - *DaJuan Morgan, (FS), North Carolina State - 2008

1.43 - Jonathan Zenon, (CB), LSU - 2008

1.43 - Marcus McCauley, (CB), Fresno State - 2007

1.43 - Marcus Walker, (CB), Oklahoma - 2008

1.43 - Jonathan Wilhite, (CB), Auburn - 2008

1.43 - Will Franklin, (WR), Missouri - 2008

1.43 - Eric Weddle, (SS), Utah - 2007

1.43 - Quintin Demps, (FS), Texas-El Paso - 2008

1.43 - Leodis McKelvin, (CB), Troy - 2008

1.43 - Tyvon Branch, (CB), Connecticut - 2008

1.43 - Mike Wallace, (WR), Mississippi - 2009

1.44 - Chris Clemons, (FS), Clemson - 2009

1.44 - Mike Thomas, (WR), Arizona - 2009

1.44 - *Darrius Heyward-Bey, (WR), Maryland - 2009

1.44 - Kory Sheets, (RB), Purdue - 2009

1.44 - Tyrell Johnson, (SS), Arkansas State - 2008

1.45 - Taylor Mays, (FS), Southern Cal - 2010

1.45 - Terrell Thomas, (CB), Southern Cal - 2008

1.45 - Leon Hall, (CB), Michigan - 2007

Most 225-Pound Bench Reps

49 - Stephen Paea, (DT), Oregon State - 2011

45 - Leif Larsen, (DT), Texas-El Paso - 2000

45 - Mitch Petrus, (OG), Arkansas - 2010

45 - Mike Kudla, (DE), Ohio State - 2006

44 - Brodrick Bunkley, (DT), Florida State - 2006

44 - Jeff Owens, (DT), Georgia - 2010

44 - *Dontari Poe, (DT), Memphis - 2012

43 - Scott Young, (OG), BYU - 2005

42 - Tank Tyler, (DT), North Carolina State - 2007

42 - Isaac Sopoaga, (DT), Hawaii - 2004

41 - David Molk, (C), Michigan - 2012

41 - *Igor Olshansky, (DT), Oregon - 2004

41 - Terna Nande, (OLB), Miami (OHIO) - 2006

40 - Manuel Ramirez, (OG), Texas Tech - 2007

40 - Justin Blalock, (OG), Texas - 2007

39 - Louis Vasquez, (OG), Texas Tech - 2009

39 - *Linval Joseph, (DT), East Carolina - 2010

38 - Marvin Austin, (DT), North Carolina - 2011

38 - Brandon Williams, (DT), Missouri Southern - 2013

38 - Margus Hunt, (DE), Southern Methodist - 2013

38 - Tony Pashos, (OT), Illinois - 2003

38 - Russell Okung, (OT), Oklahoma State - 2010

37 - *Vernon Gholston, (DE), Ohio State - 2008

37 - Jake Long, (OT), Michigan - 2008

37 - Terrance Taylor, (DT), Michigan - 2009

Fastest 20-Yard Shuttle Times

3.73 - Kevin Kasper, (WR), Iowa - 2001

3.75 - Dunta Robinson, (CB), South Carolina - 2004

3.76 - Deion Branch, (WR), Louisville - 2002

3.82 - Dante' Hall, (RB), Texas A&M - 2000

3.82 - Carlos Rogers, (CB), Auburn - 2005

3.83 - Jason Allen, (FS), Tennessee - 2006

3.83 - Kevin Bentley, (OLB), Northwestern - 2002

3.83 - Terence Newman, (CB), Kansas State - 2003

3.84 - B.W. Webb, (CB), William & Mary - 2013

3.84 - Justin Beriault, (FS), Ball State - 2005

3.84 - Troy Walters, (WR), Stanford - 2000

3.85 - Desmond Trufant, (CB), Washington - 2013

3.85 - Rashad Holman, (CB), Louisville - 2001

3.86 - Jason Hebert, (FS), Rice - 2002

3.87 - Coy Wire, (SS), Stanford - 2002

3.87 - Randy Fasani, (QB), Stanford - 2002

3.88 - Kevin Curtis, (FS), Texas Tech - 2002

3.88 - Ryan Tolhurst, (WR), Richmond - 2002

3.88 - Jeff Shoate, (CB), San Diego State - 2004

3.88 - Austin Pettis, (WR), Boise State - 2011

3.88 - Joey Thomas, (CB), Montana State - 2004

3.88 - Kendrick Starling, (WR), San Jose State - 2004

3.89 - Niko Koutouvides, (ILB), Purdue - 2004

3.89 - Markus Curry, (CB), Michigan - 2005

3.89 - Domonique Foxworth, (CB), Maryland - 2005

Quickest 3-Cone Drill Times

6.34 - Sedrick Curry, (CB), Texas A&M - 2000

6.42 - Jeff Maehl, (WR), Oregon - 2011

6.44 - Buster Skrine, (CB), Chattanooga - 2011

6.45 - Scott Long, (WR), Louisville - 2010

6.46 - Dane Sanzenbacher, (WR), Ohio State - 2011

6.48 - Terrance Toliver, (WR), LSU - 2011

6.48 - Rogers Beckett, (FS), Marshall - 2000

6.48 - Carlos Rogers, (CB), Auburn - 2005

6.50 - Leon Hall, (CB), Michigan - 2007

6.50 - Cecil Shorts III, (WR), Mount Union - 2011

6.50 - Chris Rainey, (RB), Florida - 2012

6.50 - Chykie Brown, (CB), Texas - 2011

6.51 - Jon McGraw, (SS), Kansas State - 2002

6.52 - Will Davis, (CB), Utah State - 2013

6.53 - T.J. Moe, (WR), Missouri - 2013

6.54 - *Anthony Gonzalez, (WR), Ohio State - 2007

6.54 - Trindon Holliday, (WR), LSU - 2010

6.55 - *Josh Robinson, (CB), Central Florida - 2012

6.55 - Shiloh Keo, (SS), Idaho - 2011

6.56 - Ben Taylor, (ILB), Virginia Tech - 2002

6.56 - Kevin Kasper, (WR), Iowa - 2001

6.57 - Harry Douglas, (WR), Louisville - 2008

6.58 - Cody Grimm, (SS), Virginia Tech - 2010

6.58 - *Patrick Peterson, (CB), LSU - 2011

6.59 - Malcolm Jenkins, (CB), Ohio State - 2009

Highest Vertical Jump

46 - Gerald Sensabaugh, (FS), North Carolina - 2005

45 1/2 - Derek Wake, (OLB), Penn State - 2005

45 - Chris Chambers, (WR), Wisconsin - 2001

45 - Chris McKenzie, (CB), Arizona State - 2005

45 - *Donald Washington, (CB), Ohio State - 2009

44 - A.J. Jefferson, (CB), Fresno State - 2010

43 1/2 - Dustin Fox, (FS), Ohio State - 2005

43 1/2 - Kevin Kasper, (WR), Iowa - 2001

43 1/2 - Kashif Moore, (WR), Connecticut - 2012

43 1/2 - Dorin Dickerson, (TE), Pittsburgh - 2010

43 - Christine Michael, (RB), Texas A&M - 2013

43 - Darius Butler, (CB), Connecticut - 2009

43 - Scott Starks, (CB), Wisconsin - 2005

43 - *Eric Berry, (FS), Tennessee - 2010

43 - Cedric James, (WR), TCU - 2001

42 1/2 - Jonathan Carter, (WR), Troy - 2001

42 1/2 - Jarett Dillard, (WR), Rice - 2009

42 1/2 - Nate Burleson, (WR), Nevada - 2003

42 1/2 - Brock Williams, (CB), Notre Dame - 2001

42 1/2 - Virgil Green, (TE), Nevada - 2011

42 - *Jon Baldwin, (WR), Pittsburgh - 2011

42 - Boss Bailey, (OLB), Georgia - 2003

42 - Ellis Hobbs, (CB), Iowa State - 2005

42 - Dontay Moch, (OLB), Nevada - 2011

42 - Trindon Holliday, (WR), LSU - 2010

Longest Broad Jump

11'07" - Jamie Collins, (OLB), Southern Miss - 2013

11'05" - Justin Fargas, (RB), Southern Cal - 2003

11'05" - Scott Starks, (CB), Wisconsin - 2005

11'04" - Jerome Simpson, (WR), Coastal Carolina - 2008

11'04" - *Justin Hunter, (WR), Tennessee - 2013

11'04" - Chris McKenzie, (CB), Arizona State - 2005

11'04" - Terence Newman, (CB), Kansas State - 2003

11'03" - *Donald Washington, (CB), Ohio State - 2009

11'03" - Boss Bailey, (OLB), Georgia - 2003

11'03" - *Julio Jones, (WR), Alabama - 2011

11'03" - Hilton Alexander, (WR), Morris Brown - 2001

11'02" - Jonathan Carter, (WR), Troy - 2001

11'02" - Chris Chambers, (WR), Wisconsin - 2001

11'02" - Cedric James, (WR), TCU - 2001

11'02" - Dekoda Watson, (OLB), Florida State - 2010

11'02" - Carl Stewart, (FB), Auburn - 2008

11'02" - Anthony Alridge, (RB), Houston - 2008

11'02" - Darius Butler, (CB), Connecticut - 2009

11'02" - *Eric Reid, (FS), LSU - 2013

11'02" - Earl Wolff, (SS), North Carolina State - 2013

11'01" - Shamarko Thomas, (SS), Syracuse - 2013

11'01" - *Josh Robinson, (CB), Central Florida - 2012

11'01" - Will Blackmon, (CB), Boston College - 2006

11'01" - Pat Watkins, (FS), Florida State - 2006

11'01" - Gerald Sensabaugh, (FS), North Carolina - 2005

--Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, covered the NFL and the draft since the 1960s and is a selector for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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