2020 NFL Scouting Combine Preview
The NFL Scouting Combine is underway and, quite frankly, it’s one of my favorite weeks of the year. We get to see a different side of these NFL prospects — not fully padded in gear on the field, but dressed down showing off some of the skills that they’ve got.
And let’s be honest, when we hit up the gym (or Crossfit, if you’re into that), we’re all secretly blasting Swag Surfin’ (yes, I still watch that LSU hype video on repeat) and pretending we’re in the NFL offseason prepping for fall. Or maybe that’s just me. Always workin’ out like I’m trainin’ for somethin’.
But let’s get serious for a moment. If you love college football like I do — hello, it’s my religion — then watching the NFL combine is one last opportunity to see what our favorite college players have got. And if you’re a betting man, it’s the last time you get to wager on these guys before they graduate to the pros.
Now, let’s not go full degenerate. If you do decide to bet any of these, keep them to small, pizza-sized bets. Let’s keep this event entertaining, as a primer for the 2020 NFL Draft in April. Because you know we are all psyched to see Joe Burrow get drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals.
I’m here to talk about the 40-yard dash and three quarterbacks. Is there any bit of information we can pull from previous combines to see how these fellas will perform in the 40? I compared active NFL quarterbacks similar in height and weight to Jalen Hurts, Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert.
The OVER/UNDER for Jalen Hurts in the 40-yard dash is 4.58 seconds. Hurts is listed at six-foot-two in his stats profile but at the combine measured in at 6-1 and 222 pounds. Three NFL quarterbacks match up in that size range:
Jimmy Garoppolo: In 2014, he ran a 4.97.
Deshaun Watson: In 2017, he ran a 4.66.
Lamar Jackson: In 2018, he did not run the 40-yard dash at the combine but said he’d been timed at 4.34. That would have tied for the fourth-fastest time of any player at the 2018 combine.
I would love to compare Hurts to Jackson, but let’s remember that he opted to not run in the 40-yard to avoid being labeled a wide receiver. He wanted to ensure that he got his shot as a quarterback.
However, we could still draw comparisons because Hurts and Jackson were both their team’s leading rusher. Hurts ran for 1,300 yards at Oklahoma, averaged 5.6 yards per carry, had a 52-yarder as his longest run, and posted 20 rushing touchdowns. Jackson was Louisville’s leading rusher with 1,600 yards, 6.9 yards per carry, a 75-yard run, and 18 rushing touchdowns.
Since we know Hurts is a runner, if you think he is Jackson-esque, faster than 4.58 seconds is your option. But if you think he’s not, then UNDER, UNDER, UNDER.
The OVER/UNDER in the 40-yard dash for Joe Burrow is 4.81 seconds. Four NFL quarterbacks match up to his size, with the LSU product standing 6-4 and weighing 221 pounds.
Jared Goff: In 2016, ran 4.82 seconds.
Matt Ryan: In 2008, ran 4.94 seconds.
Ryan Tannehill: In 2012, ran 4.65 seconds.
Tom Brady: In 2000, ran 5.30 seconds.
I’m not sure any of this can tell me whether he’ll run faster or slower than his OVER/UNDER number but what this small list of four tells me is just how special Joe Burrow was to NCAAF. In his 2019 season, Burrow set the record for most passing touchdowns in a single season, throwing for 60 touchdowns and over 5,600 yards while tossing only six interceptions. Among the four comparable quarterbacks, Jared Goff was closest to that mark, recording 43 touchdowns to 13 interceptions in his final year at California. Ryan had a 31/19 TD/INT ratio and Tannehill’s was 29/15.
One thing stats don’t show you, though, is just how a player will perform once in the NFL. During his last year at Michigan, Brady was not at all impressive with only 16 touchdowns, six interceptions and just over 2,200 yards passing. His college stats and his unimpressive combine numbers resulted in him being drafted 199th overall in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft. Yet, here he is, with 20 seasons under his belt with the New England Patriots and six Super Bowl rings to show for it. I cannot wait to see Burrow in his rookie season.
The OVER/UNDER number for Justin Herbert is 4.71 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Herbert is 6-6 and weighs in at 236 pounds. Only one NFL quarterback comes in at that height and that’s Nick Foles. Three others — Cam Newton, Daniel Jones and Josh Allen — are an inch shorter.
Nick Foles: In 2012, ran 5.03 seconds.
Cam Newton: In 2011, ran 4.56 seconds.
Daniel Jones: In 2019, ran 4.81 seconds.
Josh Allen: In 2018, ran 4.75 seconds.
In my opinion, Herbert’s best comparable is Foles. Herbert was not a runner, with just 50 rushing yards in his final season with Oregon. Similarly, Foles recorded -103 rushing yards in his final season at Arizona. Both were passers, with 32 and 28 touchdowns. Can I really make the comparison to Newton? He was in a league of his own with his height and ability to both pass and run. Even Jones and Allen had 300 and 510 rushing yards in their final NCAAF seasons. If I had to fire on any one bet, I’d take the OVER on Herbert. Maybe he can run and we just didn’t see it.
What quarterbacks are aiming to hit is 4.90 or better as the 40-yard dash is about speed over distance. If you want a chart to assist with target test results for each position, this is a huge help.
I’m not necessarily trying to give plays here but it’s fun to have something to compare to. We are talking about split seconds of a difference, after all. Perhaps this can just give you something to visualize and recall if you catch yourself watching the NFL combine.
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