Friday, May 30, 2008

O-Linemen clocked in the 40- Do you care?

We’ve developed this fascination of waiting the 40 yard dash results of football players. To some extent, those times may hold importance and further the evaluation. But when it gets to the point where we anticipate the results of 350 pound men chugging in a straight line for 40 yards, with each looking like they should have worn a sports bra, I’d say it’s a little overboard.

First, let’s make sense of an offensive lineman running full speed for 40 yards. There would only be two possible scenarios to force this, and neither is good. The only reason those big hogs would be running that far, and that fast, would be in the result of an offensive turnover. If your offense serves up an interception or fumble, these mastodons have the unlikely task of running down the opponent that now possesses that ball. Umm...Good luck with that.

If you’re going to clock and seek out the largest player most likely to run down a cornerback, linebacker, or safety, you’ve already missed the point, because it’s your inaccurate quarterback or butterfingered skill players that are the problem. Even on screen plays, if it's necessary for your offensive linemen to still be blocking 40 yards downfield, then they've obviously set the blocks for the tortoise, and not the hare. Tailbacks and receivers should already be passing the screen blocking O-lineman, by the 10 yard mark.

So realistically, a better speed measurement for offensive linemen would the 10 yard dash. After all, you’re not looking for someone to win Olympic gold on the track. You’re looking for the quick and sudden burst and explosion. NFL scouts clock offensive linemen for 10 yards, as part of their evaluation. Any lineman already 40 yards down field, in less than 5 seconds, is drawing an "offsides" penalty or is extremely undersized. That's just reality.

And since we’re talking about it, wouldn’t you know it? I have some 10 yard dash results of Trojan linemen. It took a while, but you knew this was leading somewhere. Didn’t you?

Charles Brown 1.81
Zack Heberer 1.81
Nick Howell 1.67
Butch Lewis 1.73
Kris O’Dowd 1.75
Martin Coleman 1.88
Alex Parsons 1.73
Mark Reardon 1.70

Those numbers may not mean much, unless you clock yourself in the 10 yard dash, and then imagine carrying the body weight of an offensive lineman. But I will say this, and mark my word, Kris O’Dowd will be the next great run blocking/pass protector at USC.

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