It's 40 yard dash day at the NFL scouting combine. This is the day everyone buzzes about who are the fastest players at each position and the hype grows to some ridiculous levels. This has long been the day that prospects have risen or fallen on the Raiders draft board. And, as I wrote last week, Reggie McKenzie said that speed will still be a priority saying: "I like speed, that's not gonna change."
But new head coach Dennis Allen doesn't have a player's 40 yard dash times rated very high on his list.
"It only fits after we find out whether this guy on tape, when we look at him, if we feel like he's a good football player." Said Allen at the combine on Friday. "That's where 40 times come into effect. If you got two guys that when you look at the tape, these guys are about the same football playing wise, well let's take the faster guy. But we're not going to take guys just because they run real fast. Because that doesn't co-relate to being a good football player."
This approach is in line with the philosophy of many head coaches who would much rather have a proven player than a raw talent who can run fast. Granted there is still room for raw speed guys. But the 40 time is not the be all and end all.
I also don't think that McKenzie sees the 40 time as something to be held on a pedestal above other important qualities in a player. For instance, the gauntlet drill for receivers. Fluidity is the key in the gauntlet drill. Not to mention the ability to catch the ball which, as a receiver, is kinda important.
As a corner, the ability to change direction and pick up speed quickly is important. Therefore, drills like the 20 yard and 60 yard shuttle are important along with the 3 cone drill and a myriad of other position drills.
The slightly different philosophies of the Raiders GM and head coach have, should make for some fine discussion about where a prospect fits on the Raiders draft board. Oh, to be a fly on the wall for that discussion.
Between the two of them, I have little doubt the most all-around talented players will shake out. With the emphasis being defense in this year's draft, the former linebacker and veteran scout McKenzie and former defensive back and hard line coach in Allen should do well to yield a few players with a good combination of talent and speed.