Comparing NFL and high school 40-yard dash times, 2014 edition: The great slowdown

Joe Robbins

(Yes, we're aware that high schoolers gain weight while in college and that high school 40 times tend to be less than accurate.) SB Nation's GIF Tournament V

Nick Saban and Bret Bielema might have failed in their effort to slow college football down via rule change, but they've got all the help they need in slowing down individual players, according to one study.

For the second consecutive year, we have compared the 40-yard dash times of NFL Combine participants to their reported 40-yard dash times while they were being recruited, and the results are no less scandalous:

  • Of 199 players who reported a 40-yard dash time to Rivals or Scout while in high school, 149 are as fast or slower after three-to-five years of development and college strength training.
  • The average college football player entering the NFL Draft is nearly a tenth of a second slower (0.0884 seconds, to be exact) in the 40-yard dash than he was in high school.
  • The average player in nine of 10 FBS conferences who had participants in the Combine is slower. Only players from the Mid-American Conference got faster (a result of all that #MACtion). All nine Combine participants from FBS independent programs were slower than they had been in college.

The biggest slow-down at the 2013 Combine came from Alabama offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio, whose 5.59 second 40-yard dash was nearly six-tenths of a second slower than the 5.00 he reported in high school.

Job well done, Nick Saban. Job well done indeed.

The full list:

Player School Combine High school Difference
Cyrus Kouandjio Alabama 5.59 5 0.59
Josh Mauro Stanford 5.21 4.7 0.51
Kerry Hyder Texas Tech 5.1 4.6 0.50
Cameron Fleming Stanford 5.28 4.8 0.48
David Yankey Stanford 5.48 5 0.48
IK Enemkpali Louisiana Tech 5.01 4.55 0.46
Yawin Smallwood Connecticut 5.01 4.6 0.41
Brandon Thomas Clemson 5.09 4.7 0.39
Matt Patchan Boston College 4.97 4.6 0.37
Timothy Flanders Sam Houston St. 4.75 4.4 0.35
Jerome Smith Syracuse 4.84 4.5 0.34
Jordan Najvar Baylor 4.93 4.59 0.34
Jonathan Brown Illinois 5.03 4.7 0.33
Kelcy Quarles South Carolina 5.03 4.7 0.33
Will Sutton Arizona St. 5.36 5.04 0.32
David Fluellen Toledo 4.72 4.4 0.32
Jeremiah George Iowa St. 4.91 4.6 0.31
Michael Sam Missouri 4.91 4.6 0.31
Gabe Jackson Mississippi St. 5.51 5.2 0.31
J.C. Copeland LSU 4.95 4.65 0.30
Ryan Groy Wisconsin 5.19 4.91 0.28
Richard Rodgers California 4.87 4.6 0.27
Kapri Bibbs Colorado St. 4.67 4.4 0.27
Anthony Denham Utah 4.77 4.5 0.27
Kony Ealy Missouri 4.92 4.65 0.27
Louis Nix Notre Dame 5.42 5.15 0.27
Andre Williams Boston College 4.56 4.3 0.26
Silas Redd USC 4.7 4.45 0.25
Antonio Richardson Tennessee 5.3 5.05 0.25
Anthony Hitchens Iowa 4.74 4.5 0.24
Scott Crichton Oregon St. 4.84 4.6 0.24
Justin Britt Missouri 5.19 4.95 0.24
Chris Boyd Vanderbilt 4.73 4.5 0.23
Jace Amaro Texas Tech 4.74 4.51 0.23
Zachariah Kerr Delaware 5.08 4.85 0.23
Dakota Dozier Furman 5.42 5.2 0.22
Loucheiz Purifoy Florida 4.61 4.4 0.21
Bashaud Breeland Clemson 4.62 4.41 0.21
Dion Bailey USC 4.66 4.45 0.21
C.J. Fiedorwicz Iowa 4.76 4.55 0.21
James Wilder Florida St. 4.86 4.65 0.21
Tom Savage Pitt 4.97 4.76 0.21
Demarcus Lawrence Boise St. 4.8 4.6 0.20
James Morris Iowa 4.8 4.6 0.20
Isaiah Lewis Michigan St. 4.6 4.4 0.20
Victor Hampton South Carolina 4.69 4.5 0.19
Antone Exum Virginia Tech 4.59 4.4 0.19
Cyril Richardson Baylor 5.36 5.18 0.18
Larry Webster Bloomsburg 4.58 4.4 0.18
Tre Boston North Carolina 4.59 4.41 0.18
Chris Borland Wisconsin 4.83 4.65 0.18
Tevin Mims South Florida 4.95 4.78 0.17
Stanley Jean-Baptise Nebraska 4.61 4.45 0.16
Anthony Barr UCLA 4.66 4.5 0.16
James Gayle Virginia Tech 4.7 4.54 0.16
Jordan Zumwalt UCLA 4.76 4.6 0.16
Davante Adams Fresno St. 4.56 4.4 0.16
Taylor Lewan Michigan 4.87 4.72 0.15
Johnny Manziel Texas A&M 4.68 4.53 0.15
Brandon Linder Miami 5.35 5.2 0.15
Morgan Moses Virginia 5.35 5.2 0.15
Isaiah Crowell Alabama St. 4.57 4.43 0.14
James White Wisconsin 4.57 4.43 0.14
AJ McCarron Alabama 4.94 4.8 0.14
Ahmad Dixon Baylor 4.64 4.5 0.14
Ryan Grant Tulane 4.64 4.5 0.14
Tajh Boyd Clemson 4.84 4.7 0.14
Ronald Powell Florida 4.65 4.52 0.13
Ricardo Allen Purdue 4.61 4.48 0.13
Alfred Blue LSU 4.63 4.5 0.13
Jackson Jeffcoat Texas 4.63 4.5 0.13
Connor Shaw South Carolina 4.66 4.53 0.13
John Urschel Penn St. 5.31 5.18 0.13
Daniel Sorensen BYU 4.67 4.55 0.12
Khairi Fortt California 4.7 4.58 0.12
Arthur Lynch Georgia 4.82 4.7 0.12
Bennie Fowler Michigan St. 4.52 4.4 0.12
Demetri Goodson Baylor 4.52 4.4 0.12
Jarvis Landry LSU 4.77 4.65 0.12
Carlos Hyde Ohio St. 4.66 4.55 0.11
Kyle Van Noy BYU 4.71 4.6 0.11
Josh Huff Oregon 4.51 4.4 0.11
Keith McGill Utah 4.51 4.4 0.11
Carl Bradford Arizona St. 4.76 4.65 0.11
Ka'Deem Carey Arizona 4.7 4.6 0.10
Kenny Ladler Vanderbilt 4.7 4.6 0.10
Storm Johnson Central Florida 4.6 4.5 0.10
Gabe Ikard Oklahoma 5.13 5.03 0.10
Marcus Roberson Florida 4.61 4.52 0.09
Bishop Sankey Washington 4.49 4.4 0.09
De'Anthony Thomas Oregon 4.5 4.41 0.09
Prince Shembo Notre Dame 4.71 4.62 0.09
Jake Murphy Utah 4.79 4.7 0.09
Crockett Gillmore Colorado St. 4.89 4.8 0.09
Russell Bodine North Carolina 5.18 5.09 0.09
George Atkinson Notre Dame 4.48 4.4 0.08
Damian Copeland Louisville 4.5 4.42 0.08
Devonta Freeman Florida St. 4.58 4.5 0.08
Craig Loston LSU 4.65 4.57 0.08
Wesley Johnson Vanderbilt 5.11 5.03 0.08
Ed Reynolds Stanford 4.57 4.5 0.07
Bryn Renner North Carolina 4.87 4.8 0.07
Ryan Hewitt Stanford 4.87 4.8 0.07
Bennett Jackson Notre Dame 4.51 4.44 0.07
Colt Lyerla Oregon 4.61 4.55 0.06
Boseko Lokombo Oregon 4.66 4.6 0.06
Trent Murphy Stanford 4.86 4.8 0.06
LaDarius Perkins Mississippi St. 4.46 4.4 0.06
Rashaad Reynolds Oregon St. 4.51 4.45 0.06
Shaq Evans UCLA 4.51 4.45 0.06
Austin Franklin New Mexico St. 4.56 4.5 0.06
Brandon Coleman Rutgers 4.56 4.5 0.06
Timmy Jernigan Florida St. 5.06 5 0.06
Cody Hoffman BYU 4.65 4.6 0.05
Jonotthan Harrison Florida 5.15 5.1 0.05
Tyler Gaffney Stanford 4.49 4.44 0.05
Allen Hurns Miami 4.55 4.5 0.05
Jemea Thomas Georgia Tech 4.55 4.5 0.05
Corey Brown Ohio St. 4.51 4.47 0.04
Stephen Morris Miami 4.63 4.59 0.04
Josh Stewart Oklahoma St. 4.69 4.65 0.04
Christian Jones Florida St. 4.74 4.7 0.04
Kasim Edebali Boston College 4.79 4.75 0.04
Xavier Su'a-Filo UCLA 5.04 5 0.04
Ja'Wuan James Tennessee 5.34 5.3 0.04
Mike Evans Texas A&M 4.53 4.5 0.03
Jeremy Hill LSU 4.66 4.63 0.03
Henry Josey Missouri 4.43 4.4 0.03
T.J. Jones Notre Dame 4.48 4.46 0.02
Jack Mewhort Ohio St. 5.37 5.35 0.02
Martavis Bryant Clemson 4.42 4.4 0.02
Brock Vereen Minnesota 4.47 4.45 0.02
Lamarcus Joyner Florida St. 4.55 4.53 0.02
Kareem Martin North Carolina 4.72 4.7 0.02
Kelvin Benjamin Florida St. 4.61 4.6 0.01
Darqueze Dennard Michigan St. 4.51 4.5 0.01
Lache Seastrunk Baylor 4.51 4.5 0.01
Chris Smith Arkansas 4.71 4.7 0.01
Jason Verrett TCU 4.38 4.38 0.00
Bruce Ellington South Carolina 4.45 4.45 0.00
Andre Hal Vanderbilt 4.5 4.5 0.00
Matt Hazel Coastal Carolina 4.5 4.5 0.00
Tre Mason Auburn 4.5 4.5 0.00
Jonathan Dowling Western Kentucky 4.52 4.52 0.00
Eric Ebron North Carolina 4.6 4.6 0.00
Trey Burton Florida 4.62 4.62 0.00
Bene Benwikere San Jose St. 4.63 4.63 0.00
Devon Kennard USC 4.7 4.7 0.00
Deone Bucannon Washington St. 4.49 4.5 -0.01
Jeremy Gallon Michigan 4.49 4.5 -0.01
Kyle Fuller Virginia Tech 4.49 4.5 -0.01
George Uko USC 4.99 5 -0.01
Bradley Roby Ohio St. 4.39 4.4 -0.01
Lamin Barrow LSU 4.64 4.65 -0.01
Cassius Marsh UCLA 4.89 4.9 -0.01
Kevin Norwood Alabama 4.48 4.5 -0.02
Terrence Brooks Florida St. 4.42 4.44 -0.02
Marcus Smith Louisville 4.68 4.7 -0.02
Justin Gilbert Oklahoma St. 4.37 4.4 -0.03
Jaylen Watkins Florida 4.41 4.44 -0.03
Will Clarke West Virginia 4.77 4.8 -0.03
Jordan Matthews Vanderbilt 4.46 4.5 -0.04
L'Damian Washington Missouri 4.46 4.5 -0.04
Tevin Reese Baylor 4.46 4.5 -0.04
Marqueston Huff Wyoming 4.49 4.53 -0.04
Logan Thomas Virginia Tech 4.61 4.65 -0.04
Donte Moncrief Mississippi 4.4 4.45 -0.05
Damien Williams Oklahoma 4.45 4.5 -0.05
Quincy Enunwa Nebraska 4.45 4.5 -0.05
Mike Campanaro Wake Forest 4.46 4.51 -0.05
Odell Beckham LSU 4.43 4.48 -0.05
DaQuan Jones Penn St. 5.35 5.4 -0.05
Anthony Johnson LSU 5.24 5.3 -0.06
Jadeveon Clowney South Carolina 4.53 4.6 -0.07
Jonathan Newsome Ball St. 4.73 4.8 -0.07
Brandin Cooks Oregon St. 4.33 4.4 -0.07
Sammy Watkins Clemson 4.43 4.5 -0.07
Terrance Mitchell Oregon 4.63 4.7 -0.07
Jerick McKinnon Georgia Southern 4.41 4.5 -0.09
Kevin Pierre-Louis Boston College 4.51 4.6 -0.09
Paul Richardson Colorado 4.4 4.5 -0.10
Marqise Lee USC 4.52 4.62 -0.10
Derek Carr Fresno St. 4.69 4.8 -0.11
Phillip Gaines Rice 4.38 4.49 -0.11
Jake Matthews Texas A&M 5.07 5.2 -0.13
Devin Street Pitt 4.55 4.7 -0.15
Trai Turner LSU 4.93 5.1 -0.17
Khyri Thornton Southern Miss 5.03 5.2 -0.17
Travis Swanson Arkansas 5.28 5.45 -0.17
Kendall James Maine 4.44 4.62 -0.18
Dontae Johnson NC State 4.45 4.65 -0.20
Aaron Donald Pitt 4.68 4.9 -0.22
Greg Robinson Auburn 4.92 5.15 -0.23
Lavelle Westbrooks Georgia Southern 4.63 4.88 -0.25
Isaiah Burse Fresno St. 4.58 4.87 -0.29
Telvin Smith Florida St. 4.52 4.85 -0.33
A.C. Leonard Tennessee St. 4.5 4.9 -0.40
Willie Snead Ball St. 4.62 5.04 -0.42
Caraun Reid Princeton 4.91 5.39 -0.48

They're power conferences, not speed conferences

Of the 163 players from power conferences that ran the 40-yard dash at the Combine and had reported 40-yard dash times in high school, 124 were slower after their time at well-funded and highly esteemed football programs. While 74.8 percent of players overall were slower, 76.1 percent of players from the BCS automatic qualifiers lost time.

In the weight room. In the community. But not in the 40.

The Big Ten lived up to expectations, with just four of 22 future pros getting faster during their Rust Belt years.

While the nation's oldest conference did not have any standout performers -- Illinois linebacker Jonathan Brown was 0.33 seconds slower than he had been in high school, good for just the 13th biggest slowdown -- it made up for it in breadth and depth of slowness. Fourteen Big Ten players, 64 percent of the conference's participants, were more than a tenth of a second slower than their reported high school 40-yard dash times.

Iowa dominated the slow-down movement, with three Hawkeyes among the five largest slowdowns in the Big Ten.

The 'S' on the helmet stands for 'slow'

No program contributed more to the slowdown of college football than Stanford. Three of the five largest slowdowns at the NFL Combine came from the Cardinal.

The "Stanford effect," as those who watch 40 times (should probably) call it, even extended to players no longer in Palo Alto. Baylor tight end Jordan Najvar, who spent one season with the Cardinal before transferring to Waco, suffered the second-biggest slowdown of all players in the Big 12. The only Big 12 player with a greater reduction in sprint time was Texas Tech defensive end Kerry Hyder, whose half-second of extra sprint time can be attributed to the fact that he attended the Stanford of West Texas.

The FCS: Small schools. Small 40 times.

Fully half of the ten players from schools in the FCS clocked faster than in high school. Princeton defensive tackle Caraun Reid showed the most improvement over his college career of any player at the combine, reducing his 5.39-second high school 40 to 4.91 seconds in Indianapolis.

Why would FCS players get faster while FBS players who were more highly recruited and publicized by scouting services slow down? It's probably those extra playoff games, which allow players to run more short sprints during games.

Quick, someone cancel the FBS Playoff. Preserve the slowness.

Related: Combine big men running to "Wobble Baby":

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