clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Why do Oregon Ducks Run Slower at the Combine?

The Oregon Ducks arguably play faster than any team in the country. Athletes are recruited based off their speed and the strength and conditioning team trains them to be faster. So why doesn't their speed carry over to the NFL Combine?

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The combine has come and gone and the uncomfortable meat market at times takes a break until schools run their pro days.  Oregon is a school that has prided itself on having the fastest players in the country.  So why don't they perform that way at the combine?

Without pads and being able to train for months to take one set of physical tests have resulted in a disappointingly poor performance by more than one Duck.

Josh Huff, while never possessing elite speed, only ran his 40-yard dash time in 4.51 seconds.

De'Anthony Thomas was probably the most underwhelming Oregon athlete at the combine when his official 40-time was a 4.5.  Jadeveon Clowney ran a 4.53 40-yard dash, meaning that if he got the right angle he could probably catch both of these players in a dead sprint.  The difference is that Jadeveon Clowney is a defensive end and weighs 266 pounds.

Former tight end Colt Lyerla had the most impressive combine and he has been training outside the Oregon football program since early fall.  He had a 4.61 40-yard dash, a 39-inch vertical jump, and a 128-inch broad jump, which were tops for his position.

I don't think this is an isolated case unique to 2014.  In 2013 Kenjon Barner, who runs away from defenders, ran a 4.52.

On the bright side there is still the Oregon Pro Day for all of these players to improve their 40-yard dash and other movement drills such as the vertical jump and 3-cone drill.

It is a definite possibility that Oregon players are trained and practice to play fast and they simply place as fast as they can, which is obviously the most important part of football, how you play on the field.  However, the combine and pro days measure an athlete's ability to prepare as well as verify and quantify what people saw on Saturdays.  LaMichael James who ran an impressive 4.45 at his combine said in an interview that he had to relearn his starts.  The start is pretty much the most important part of the 40-yard dash.

I'll open this up to everyone in the comments section because players look and play faster than opponents on the field.  When players are quantified in testing their speed doesn't appear to carry over.