TEMPE, ARIZ. - The inaugural NFL Veteran Combine featured 107 former NFL players, including Brady Quinn, Michael Sam and Felix Jones, all trying to impress scouts. But instead, much of the talk of the event revolved around ridiculously slow 40-yard dash times provided by the NFL.
"They said I was a 4.6 or something, but I’ve been running 4.3s and 4.4s all through training," former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Carlton Mitchell said. "I think the lasers, I think it’s the first time they were using them. People that know me know that I’m not a 4.6 guy. When they told me that I said ‘What?’"
Mitchell, 26, was selected in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft and ran a 4.49 40-yard dash at the combine. He was clocked at nearly the same a little more than a month later at the South Florida pro day.
When he left the Arizona Cardinals practice bubble where the 40s were being timed and he stepped onto the outdoor practice fields though, Mitchell shined and was one of the stars of the day. After the session, he was pulled aside and talked to by scouts from at least two NFL teams.
"I was training six days a week before I even knew about this. Once I found out the good news, I just upped everything a little bit," Mitchell said. "I had one [pass] that got away from me and that bothers me. First drop all offseason, but I felt pretty good. There’s certain things I still need to work on, of course, but I’m pretty happy for the most part."
Mitchell wasn't the only one who had a puzzlingly slow time on Sunday, though. The first round of 40-yard dashes of the day came from interior offensive linemen and when the first time of the day was revealed to the media, it was just barely under six seconds. It brought laughs, but the slow times became a theme for the day and eventually started confusing media and players alike.
Sam, arguably the most noteworthy name of those participating, was told his 40-yard dash time was on the wrong side of five seconds just one year after he ran a 4.91 at the 2014 NFL Combine and reportedly ran in the 4.7s at the Missouri pro day. Scouts on Sunday unanimously said they timed the defensive end under five seconds.
Michael Bush when he learned he ran a 4.91 40 at the Veteran Combine: 'You gotta be ****ing me. 4.91? There you go, there goes my career.'— Marc Sessler (@MarcSesslerNFL) March 22, 2015
Even the speediest players, like former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Nathan Slaughter, who had the fastest time among all wide receivers at the event, only posted a 4.55. It was fast enough, however, to get him back in the NFL:
Ex-Jaguars & West Texas A&M WR Nathan Slaughter has agreed to terms with #Cardinals, source said. 1st veteran combine player to get a job.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 23, 2015
"A combine is a combine, I’ve been through that before," Kafka said. "A workout, I’ve been through those before. It’s pretty much standard and you can’t beat the weather, so there’s not too much to complain about."
"I mean, why not?" Berry said. "As long as they’re giving us the opportunity for coaches and everybody to see us, why not apply for it? You get picked and you’re just blessed to get the opportunity."
SB Nation presents: End of the line for Kansas