Forget the 40: Splits are where it’s at for scouts

Baylor OT Danny Watkins runs the 40-yard dash Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine. (Ben Liebenberg/NFL)

INDIANAPOLIS — How often do NFL offensive linemen run 40 yards down field, untouched and in a straight line? Most football fans know that answer.

It’s an odd (and occasionally unpleasant) sight to see linemen legging out 40-yard dashes, and most NFL talent evaluators feel the same way. While a 40 time offers a window into a prospect’s athleticism, it really has no bearing on his overall evaluation.

While the rest of the line drills at the NFL Scouting Combine are more transferable in evaluating prospects (and keep in mind this is all a small slice of the overall picture), what teams are looking at during the 40 are the 10- and 20-yard splits. These splits — particularly at 10 yards — help indicate a player’s power and explosiveness off the line of scrimmage.

These numbers are unofficial and will vary from team to team, but here’s a look at the 10-second splits of the offensive linemen who ran Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium:

1. Derek Newton, Arkansas State: 1.71 seconds
2. Julian Vandervelde, Iowa: 1.72
3. Ryan Bartholomew, Syracuse: 1.74
4. Jason Kelce, Cincinnati: 1.74
5. Nate Solder, Colorado: 1.74
6. Jarriel King, South Carolina: 1.75
7. Steve Schilling, Michigan: 1.75
8. Kris O’Dowd, USC: 1.76
9. Mike Person, Montana State: 1.77
10. Zach Williams, Washington St.: 1.79

So as fans chew on all the numbers that come out of the combine, keep in mind that for those who make their living evaluating players, some stats mean much more than others, and some mean not much at all.

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