How Important is Speed To the NFL Game?

Glad that you’ve found the time to come chill with ya’ boy at the Corner Store again.  Today I want to rap about speed and how it relates to the game of football.  Many football fans, myself included at times, tend to get obsessed with a player’s measurable combine stats.  Size, strength, and jumping ability all make us lean a little closer to the TV while watching the NFL combine, but nothing draws us in like raw explosive speed!  Ask Micky.

I find my self obsessed with the idea of Baylor’s WR Corey Coleman playing on the same offensive unit as my favorite team’s new running back Lamar Miller.  Fact is, there are many different variables that come into play when we’re talking about straight way speed and it’s effect on the grid iron game.  A player can have short bursts of speed that he can control in small areas.  most of us refer to that as quickness.  Some players have world class down field speed but have trouble getting to top speed early.  Others have both.  For example, I’ve been to track meets  and saw the hot shot running back who runs a legit 4.3 range 40 yard dash and as one would expect he shot out of the blocks ahead of the field in the 100 meters.  Around the 60 meter mark  he showed obvious signs that his initial explosion had fizzled out and a guy that he had a 7 meter lead on caught him and passed him up for the win.  A few years prior I saw another hot shot high school running back come out of the blocks and fall flat on his belly.  He was already a notoriously  slow starter so I just knew that the race was over for him.  He got up off of the track and commenced to “walk everyone down” with the exception of another hotshot running back who eventually won the district title.  The winner finished in the 10.5 range and barely beat the 2nd place finisher who started the race on his stomach.

As many have noted, football is more about short distance explosion than it is about out right speed.  The first 10 yards is essentially the holy land in the game of football.  He who can dominate that small stretch of field will have success.  Very few football players can boast about having short range explosion and long range speed.  The Viking’s Adrian Peterson is a player who can get to top speed at a fast pace and sustain that speed 80 yards down field.  Barry Sanders,  on the other hand, had the ability to hit top speed coming off of a dead stop.  He ran in the 4.3 range but had the tendency of sputtering toward the end of long runs.  Just so happened that he had such a big lead on them that it didn’t really matter if he sputtered or not.  Eric Dickerson didn’t have the initial first two step explosion of Sanders or Peterson but he was another that could hit top speed fast and the only dude that ever “walked him down” was the Washington’s Corner Back Darrell Green who made a career out of making everyone else look slow.

If it were all about raw speed, then Olympian sprinter Justin Gatlin would have made an NFL roster when he tried out for the Texans and Bucs during his suspension  from track competition.  I mean the brother won the Olympic gold in the 100 meter dash with a sub 9.9 time.  If raw speed was the determining factor then he would be the greatest to ever play.  Gatlin tried out for wide receiver, but was eventually dismissed with the label ‘track guy”.    Rahib Ismail never made a dent in the NFL even though he was clocked in the 4.1s when he was a student athlete at Notre Dame and he was actually a dynamic football player in college.  Bob Hayes and runnung back Robert Smith were track guys that actually had successful careers in the NFL.  I’ll let Texans Wide Receiver Nuk Hopkins tell you about speed at the WR position.

Anywho, the draft is right around the corner and all of the speculation will be rendered obsolete.  We’ll see who will be putting on our colors and who’ll get credit or blame the selections.  I won’t lie, and it’s petty, but I want to see some speed at NRG.