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A Study In Quickness


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A study in quickness

Lateral agility trumps 40-yard speed on football field

By Nolan Nawrocki

April 6, 2009

Despite popular beliefs, the 20-yard shuttle is a much more functional test of what a player is asked to do on the football field than the 40-yard dash, given that it better measures how quickly a player can change direction, how loose he is in the hips, how easily he can bend and how fast he can play the game in short areas, where most action occurs.

USC's Kaluka Maiava, Wake Forest's Aaron Curry

Wake Forest OLB Aaron Curry,

USC OLB Kaluka Maiava (right)

By subtracting the 20-yard shuttle time from the straight-line 40-time, as many teams tend to do as a gauge of lateral agility, evaluators can even better gauge a player's lateral agility than they can simply with short shuttle times, as the differential puts into perspective both long speed and short-area quickness.

Generally speaking, a player who notches a .50 is considered to have outstanding lateral agility. Players with low differentials are often viewed as more straight-linish or tight-hipped, which tends to allow them to perform better running the 40 than it would in a shuttle.

Following is a breakdown by position, in order from best to worst, of the difference between players’ 40-times and 20-yard short shuttles, based on Combine data averages for each test, with an average included for every position. For example, Mark Sanchez, who was clocked at an average handheld 4.95 seconds in the 40 and 4.23 in the short shuttle, registered a .72 differential, significantly better than the .47-second differential averaged by quarterbacks.

It should be noted that both the 20-yard shuttle and 40-yard dash are learned, and players can enhance their times considerably through training, which could skew the results.

While there is not always a correlation between the two drills and the future success of a football player, it should be noted that Patriots QB Tom Brady registered a differential of .92, Packers C Scott Wells a .90, Oklahoma’s Kelly Gregg a .88 and Dan Koppen a .85. Many players who do not test well and are not drafted highly but turn out to be exceptional or very good pros often do so because of their great quickness and functional football playing speed.

Just as many players who do not produce great differentials become great football players. Donovan McNabb, for example, registered a .08, Braylon Edwards a .07 and Karlos Dansby a .07. Just because a player does not have great lateral agility does not mean he cannot be an exceptional football player. Nonetheless, the differential can be revealing, especially in later rounds and even more specifically for defensive talent that is forced to react quickly.

Some players in this year’s draft who noticeably stood out for great differentials despite producing what were regarded as relatively slow 40-times include Sanchez, Michigan State RB Javon Ringer, Oklahoma State TE Brandon Pettigrew, Mississippi OT Michael Oher, Oregon State OG Andy Levitre, Oregon C Max Unger, Purdue DL Alex Magee, Boston College DT Ron Brace, Ohio State LB James Laurinaitis, USC OLB Kaluka Maiava, Virginia Tech’s Macho Harris, Texas Tech’s Darcel McBath and Oklahoma SS Nic Harris — all of whom are more field-fast than 40-fast and fared among the best in their position groups.

Some who noticeably stood out for faring poorly include West Virginia QB Pat White, Virginia RB Cedric Peerman, Oklahoma’s Juaquin Iglesias, Florida’s Cornelius Ingram (who is still recovering from a season-ending knee injury), Arizona OT Eben Britton, South Carolina OL Jamon Meredith, Alabama C Antoine Caldwell, Richmond DE-OLB Lawrence Sidbury, Clemson DT Dorrell Scott, Southern Miss ILB Gerald McRath, Wake Forest LB Aaron Curry, Wake Forest CB Alphonso Smith and Clemson FS Chris Clemons — most of whom show considerable hip tightness and appear straight-linish on tape.

Quarterbacks

Mark Sanchez, USC 0.72

Rhett Bomar, Sam Houston State 0.69

Mike Reilly, Central Washington 0.68

Hunter Cantwell, Louisville 0.63

Brian Hoyer, Michigan State 0.63

Tom Brandstater, Fresno State 0.53

Graham Harrell, Texas Tech 0.53

Josh Freman, Kansas State 0.53

Chase Daniel, Missouri 0.50

Cullen Harper, Clemson 0.50

Chase Holbrook, New Mexico State 0.48

Average 0.47

Nathan Brown, Central Arkansas 0.47

Drew Willy, Buffalo 0.46

Curtis Painter, Purdue 0.42

Jason Boltus, Hartwick 0.37

Matthew Stafford, Georgia 0.36

John Parker Wilson, Alabama 0.21

Stephen McGee, Texas A&M 0.16

Pat White, West Virginia 0.15

Nate Davis, Ball State NA

Running backs

Kahlil Bell, UCLA 0.53

Javon Ringer, Michigan State 0.45

Glen Coffee, Alabama 0.42

Rashad Jennings, Liberty 0.40

Donald Brown, Connecticut 0.39

Bernard Scott, Abilene Christian 0.38

Tyrell Sutton, Northwestern 0.37

Chris Ogbonnaya, Texas 0.32

Average 0.28

Knowshon Moreno, Georgia 0.26

Shonn Greene, Iowa 0.26

Anthony Kimble, Stanford 0.24

Ian Johnson, Boise State 0.24

Mike Goodson, Texas A&M 0.24

James Davis, Clemson 0.23

Branden Ore, Virginia Tech 0.21

Andre Brown, North Carolina State 0.13

Cedric Peerman, Virginia 0.07

Kory Sheets, Purdue 0.02

Arian Foster, Tennessee NA

P.J. Hill, Wisconsin NA

Gartrell Johnson, Colorado State NA

Jeremiah Johnson, Oregon NA

Marlon Lucky, Nebraska NA

LeSean McCoy, Pittsburgh NA

Chris Wells, Ohio State NA

Jarvarris Williams, Tennessee State NA

Fullbacks

Marcus Mailei, Weber State 0.54

Average 0.35

Brannan Southerland, Georgia 0.31

Tony Fiammetta, Syracuse 0.14

Jason Cook, Mississippi NA

Quinn Johnson, LSU NA

Wide receivers

Nate Swift, Nebraska 0.42

Brian Hartline, Ohio State 0.42

Greg Orton, Purdue 0.39

Jeremy Childs, Boise State 0.37

Kevin Ogletree, Virginia 0.33

Austin Collie, Brigham Young 0.33

Ramses Barden, Cal Poly 0.32

Kenny McKinley, South Carolina 0.32

Brian Robiskie, Ohio State 0.29

Dominique Edison, Stephen F. Austin 0.28

Sammie Stroughter, Oregon State 0.28

Taurus Johnson, South Florida 0.27

Andrew Means, Indiana 0.25

Tiquan Underwood, Rutgers 0.24

Average 0.20

David Richmond, San Jose State 0.19

Johnny Knox, Abilene Christian 0.15

Jaison Williams, Oregon 0.13

Jarrett Dillard, Rice 0.12

Marko Mitchell, Nevada 0.09

Darrius Heyward-Bey, Maryland 0.07

Juaquin Iglesias, Oklahoma 0.07

Kenny Britt, Rutgers 0.06

Quan Cosby, Texas 0.06

Mike Thomas, Arizona 0.06

Aaron Kelly, Clemson 0.06

Mike Wallace, Mississippi 0.03

Deon Butler, Penn State -0.18

Demetrius Byrd, LSU NA

Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech NA

Brooks Foster, North Carolina NA

Brandon Gibson, Washington State NA

Percy Harvin, Florida NA

Manuel Johnson, Oklahoma NA

Quinten Lawrence, McNeese State NA

Jeremy Maclin, Missouri NA

Brennan Marion, Tulsa NA

Mohamed Massaquoi, Georgia NA

Louis Murphy, Florida NA

Hakeem Nicks, North Carolina NA

Jordan Norwood, Penn State NA

Darius Passmore, Marshall NA

Brandon Tate, North Carolina NA

Patrick Turner, USC NA

Derrick Williams, Penn State NA

Tight ends

Dan Gronkowski, Maryland 0.55

John Phillips, Virginia 0.52

Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State 0.49

Kory Sperry, Colorado State 0.46

Bear Pascoe, Fresno State 0.42

James Casey, Rice 0.41

Average 0.34

D.J. Johnson, Arkansas State 0.33

Cameron Morrah, California 0.31

Anthony Hill, North Carolina State 0.31

Richard Quinn, North Carolina 0.30

Jared Bronson, Central Washington 0.27

Davon Drew, East Carolina 0.23

Cornelius Ingram, Florida 0.16

Travis Beckum, Wisconsin NA

Chase Coffman, Missouri NA

Jared Cook, South Carolina NA

Brian Mandeville, Northeastern NA

Rob Myers, Utah State NA

Offensive tackles

Michael Oher, Mississippi 0.71

Joel Bell, Furman 0.57

Ramon Foster, Tennessee 0.56

Robert Brewster, Ball State 0.53

Troy Kropog, Tulane 0.53

Alex Boone, Ohio State 0.52

Lydon Murtha, Nebraska 0.50

Average 0.47

Jason Smith, Baylor 0.47

Jason Watkins, Florida 0.47

Xavier Fulton, Illinois 0.47

Phil Loadholt, Oklahoma 0.46

Maurice Miller, Mississippi 0.45

Eugene Monroe, Virginia 0.43

Fenuki Tupou, Oregon 0.42

Jose Valdez, Arkansas 0.33

Will Beatty, Connecticut 0.32

Eben Britton, Arizona 0.24

Dan Gay, Baylor 0.08

Gerald Cadogan, Penn State NA

Andrew Gardner, Georgia Tech NA

Kyle Link, McNeese State NA

Ryan McKee, Southern Mississippi NA

Gus Parrish, Kent State NA

Garrett Reynolds, North Carolina NA

Andre Smith, Alabama NA

Offensive guards

Andy Levitre, Oregon State 0.81

C.J. Davis, Pittsburgh 0.63

Andy Kemp, Wisconsin 0.59

Seth Olsen, Iowa 0.55

Travis Bright, Brigham Young 0.53

Cornelius Lewis, Tennessee State 0.50

Average 0.47

Kraig Urbik, Wisconsin 0.47

Greg Isdaner, West Virginia 0.42

Jamon Meredith, South Carolina 0.20

Brandon Walker, Oklahoma 0.09

Roger Allen, Missouri Western State NA

Trevor Canfield, Cincinnati NA

Paul Fanaika, Arizona State NA

Ray Feinga, Brigham Young NA

Tyronne Greene, Auburn NA

Herman Johnson, LSU NA

Anthony Parker, Tennessee NA

Duke Robinson, Oklahoma NA

Matt Slauson, Nebraska NA

Jaime Thomas, Maryland NA

Louis Vasquez, Texas Tech NA

Centers

Max Unger, Oregon 0.84

A.Q. Shipley, Penn State 0.79

Alex Fletcher, Stanford 0.75

Eric Wood, Louisville 0.72

Average 0.59

Robby Felix, UTEP 0.57

Jon Cooper, Oklahoma 0.50

Jonathan Luigs, Arkansas 0.35

Antoine Caldwell, Alabama 0.24

Rob Bruggeman, Iowa NA

Juan Garcia, Washington NA

Brett Helms, LSU NA

Alex Mack, California NA

Edwin Williams, Maryland NA

Defensive ends

Derek Walker, Illinois 0.59

Alex Magee, Purdue 0.52

Jarius Wynn, Georgia 0.50

Tim Jamison, Michigan 0.49

Brandon Williams, Texas Tech 0.48

Pannel Egboh, Stanford 0.47

Maurice Evans, Penn State 0.47

Zach Potter, Nebraska 0.46

Aaron Maybin, Penn State 0.42

Connor Barwin, Cincinnati 0.42

Will Davis, Illinois 0.40

Paul Kruger, Utah 0.38

Kyle Moore, USC 0.37

Average 0.36

David Veikune, Hawaii 0.36

Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech 0.34

Robert Ayers, Tennessee 0.30

Everette Brown, Florida State 0.23

Orion Martin, Virginia Tech 0.19

Sammie Hill, Stillman 0.17

Tyson Jackson, LSU 0.17

Lawrence Sidbury, Richmond 0.10

Stryker Sulak, Missouri 0.10

Matt Shaughnessy, Wisconsin 0.00

Michael Bennett, Texas A&M NA

Ian Campbell, Kansas State NA

Rulon Davis, California NA

Defensive tackles

Ron Brace, Boston College 0.82

Adrian Grady, Louisville 0.51

B.J. Raji, Boston College 0.46

Terrance Knighton, Temple 0.43

Khalif Mitchell, East Carolina 0.36

Average 0.33

Ziggy Hood, Missouri 0.31

Mitch King, Iowa 0.27

Roy Miller, Texas 0.26

Myron Pryor, Kentucky 0.26

Demonte Bolden, Tennessee 0.25

Jarron Gilbert, San Jose State 0.25

Corvey Irvin, Georgia 0.25

Terrence Taylor, Michigan 0.20

Rashon Harris, Oregon 0.16

Dorrell Scott, Clemson 0.10

Marlon Favorite, LSU NA

Ricky Jean-Francois, LSU NA

Peria Jerry, Mississippi NA

Sen’Derrick Marks, Auburn NA

Fili Moala, USC NA

Vance Walker, Georgia Tech NA

Inside linebackers

James Laurinaitis, Ohio State 0.54

Scott McKillop, Pittsburgh 0.37

Jasper Brinkley, South Carolina 0.37

Average 0.36

Jason Phillips, TCU 0.35

Darry Beckwith, LSU 0.29

Stanley Arnoux, Wake Forest 0.17

Gerald McRath, Southern Mississippi 0.15

Dannell Ellerbe, Georgia NA

Anthony Felder, California NA

Rey Maualuga, USC NA

Josh Mauga, Nevada NA

Worrell Williams, California NA

Morris Wooten, Arizona State NA

Outside linebackers

Kaluka Maiava, USC 0.56

Marcus Freeman, Ohio State 0.54

Clay Matthews, USC 0.49

Brian Cushing, USC 0.45

Larry English, Northern Illinois 0.43

Average 0.42

Moses Fokou, Maryland 0.41

Clint Sintim, Virginia 0.37

Cody Brown, Connecticut 0.37

Victor Butler, Oregon State 0.34

Mortty Ivy, West Virginia 0.17

Lee Robinson, Alcorn State 0.09

Aaron Curry, Wake Forest 0.02

Jonathan Casillas, Wisconsin NA

Zack Follett, California NA

Cody Glenn, Nebraska NA

DeAndre Levy, Wisconsin NA

Tyrone McKenzie, South Florida NA

Brian Orakpo, Texas NA

Cornerbacks

Macho Harris, Virginia Tech 0.73

Kevin Akins, Boston College 0.71

Morgan Trent, Michigan 0.51

Kevin Barnes, Maryland 0.50

Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State 0.44

Bruce Johnson, Miami (Fla.) 0.44

Jerraud Powers, Auburn 0.44

Coye Francies, San Jose State 0.43

Sean Smith, Utah 0.40

Vontae Davis, Illinois 0.35

Donald Washington, Ohio State 0.34

Average 0.33

Lardarius Webb, Nicholls State (La.) 0.33

Joe Burnett, Central Florida 0.32

Chris Owens, San Jose State 0.31

Captain Munnerlyn, South Carolina 0.30

Lydell Sargeant, Penn State 0.28

Darius Butler, Connecticut 0.28

D.J. Moore, Vanderbilt 0.27

Ryan Palmer, Texas 0.25

Domonique Johnson, Jackson State 0.23

Asher Allen, Georgia 0.19

Bradley Fletcher, Iowa 0.19

Brandon Hughes, Oregon State 0.19

DeAngelo Smith, Cincinnati 0.18

Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest 0.13

DeAndre Wright, New Mexico 0.11

Glover Quin, New Mexico 0.07

Jairus Byrd, Oregon NA

Don Carey, Norfolk State NA

Cary Harris, USC NA

Keenan Lewis, Oregon State NA

Mike Mickens, Cincinnati NA

Ryan Mouton, Hawaii NA

Wopamo Osaisai, Stanford NA

Jahi Word-Daniels, Georgia Tech NA

Free safeties

Sherrod Martin, Troy 0.49

Darcel McBath, Texas Tech 0.48

Lendy Holmes, Oklahoma 0.40

Curtis Taylor, LSU 0.39

Derek Pegues, Mississippi State 0.38

Louis Delmas, Western Michigan 0.37

Marcus McClinton, Kentucky 0.33

Chip Vaughn, Wake Forest 0.32

Brandon Underwood, Cincinnati 0.32

William Moore, Missouri 0.31

Average 0.31

Rashad Johnson, Alabama 0.28

Michael Hamlin, Clemson 0.18

David Bruton, Notre Dame 0.17

C.J. Spillman, Marshall 0.16

Chris Clemons, Clemson -0.03

Otis Wiley, Michigan State NA

Strong safeties

Nic Harris, Oklahoma 0.52

Courtney Greene, Rutgers 0.40

Average 0.37

Troy Nolan, Arizona State 0.35

Jamarca Sanford, Mississippi 0.30

Stephen Hodge, TCU 0.23

Patrick Chung, Oregon NA

Emanuel Cook, South Carolina NA

Kevin Ellison, USC NA

Top 10 overall

Max Unger, Oregon 0.84

Ron Brace, Boston College 0.82

Andy Levitre, Oregon State 0.81

A.Q. Shipley, Penn State 0.79

Alex Fletcher, Stanford 0.75

Macho Harris, Virginia Tech 0.73

Mark Sanchez, USC 0.72

Eric Wood, Louisville 0.72

Michael Oher, Mississippi 0.71

Kevin Akins, Boston College 0.71

Rhett Bomar, Sam Houston State 0.69

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look at JLs, this is more evidence that there is more to the combine and football than the 40

Yep... He posted great numbers outside of his 40 time...

Ive said it numerous times. JL can play ANY LB position in our system. Add to the fact, he diagnoses plays quickly, it makes him even quicker in pads...

He is the 'safest' player in this draft imho

On a side note: Can Curry really play in coverage that well?? Going by this formula, he has very stiff hips, but good straight line speed...

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This is rediculous. The slower a player runs his 40yard dash, the bigger the differential. So this method REWARDS those who post poor 40 times and punishes those, Like Pat White, who post the best times. Why not just look at the short shuttle time? What benefit is there adding in the 40 time? And if your going to include the 40 time, don't do it in a way that punished those who run it the fastest. By thie logic, Tom Brady has more lateral quickness than Pat White. Just rediculous.

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This is rediculous. The slower a player runs his 40yard dash, the bigger the differential. So this method REWARDS those who post poor 40 times and punishes those, Like Pat White, who post the best times. Why not just look at the short shuttle time? What benefit is there adding in the 40 time? And if your going to include the 40 time, don't do it in a way that punished those who run it the fastest. By thie logic, Tom Brady has more lateral quickness than Pat White. Just rediculous.

That was my first thought reading this. The differential argument is ********. If I ran a 4.2 shuttle time, my 40 shouldn't have a bearing on my "lateral agility". If I then run a 5 flat 40, I have tremendous lateral agility. If I run a 4.3 40, I am stiff in the hips. ********.

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This is rediculous. The slower a player runs his 40yard dash, the bigger the differential. So this method REWARDS those who post poor 40 times and punishes those, Like Pat White, who post the best times. Why not just look at the short shuttle time? What benefit is there adding in the 40 time? And if your going to include the 40 time, don't do it in a way that punished those who run it the fastest. By thie logic, Tom Brady has more lateral quickness than Pat White. Just rediculous.

exactly. not to mention loadholt is one of the best OT's as far as lateral agility and his feet are as slow as molasses. at first i thought this might be really interesting but it turned out to be quite dissapointing.

-Mr. Offseason

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It's right there in the description that the difference allows for the assessment of straight line speed vs. short area burst. By itself, short shuttle is useful, but it offers even more utilitarian value when placed in comparison with a guy's 40 time. I know it's counter-intuitive, but this is what I've been saying in JL discussions for a while now. Straight line speed isn't useful that often in the NFL outside of special team. The 40-yard dash is the swimsuit competition, but the other stuff is what personnel guys care about. And for those of you who think differentials aren't important, I've seen Belichick himself quote them during draft discussions.

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On a side note: Can Curry really play in coverage that well?? Going by this formula, he has very stiff hips, but good straight line speed...

This is something I was saying to Mr. Offseason the other day. I think the world of Curry as a player. It's impossible for me to imagine him being a bust, because he does everything right on the football field to improve himself and his team. His TFL stats for his college career are just ridiculous. He's got more than JL and Rey M combined. But the thing that really jumped out at me in reviewing all of the combine performances was how he had the best 40 time at his position yet some of the worst short shuttle and 3-cone times. That's -generally- a huge danger sign. I'm inclined to think he's an exception but if he does fail in the NFL, this will be the reason why.

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This is something I was saying to Mr. Offseason the other day. I think the world of Curry as a player. It's impossible for me to imagine him being a bust, because he does everything right on the football field to improve himself and his team. His TFL stats for his college career are just ridiculous. He's got more than JL and Rey M combined. But the thing that really jumped out at me in reviewing all of the combine performances was how he had the best 40 time at his position yet some of the worst short shuttle and 3-cone times. That's -generally- a huge danger sign. I'm inclined to think he's an exception but if he does fail in the NFL, this will be the reason why.

It wasnt all that long ago someone was saying to me, Curry's shuttle time and 3 cone were the reason KC might pick him and put him inside next to Derrick Johnson...

By no means was i saying Aaron Curry will be a bust, i was just interested in the outcome using this formula... I do think there is merit in this formula, especially when applied to LB's. They have to drop into coverage and explode to the ball carrier...

Who has the most short area burst?

The LB with a 4.5 shuttle and a 4.5 40 or

The LB with a 4.2 shuttle and a 4.7 40

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That was my first thought reading this. The differential argument is ********. If I ran a 4.2 shuttle time, my 40 shouldn't have a bearing on my "lateral agility". If I then run a 5 flat 40, I have tremendous lateral agility. If I run a 4.3 40, I am stiff in the hips. ********.

The differential isn't a great measure, due to the fact that a slow 40 skews it. However, it's great at differentiating people within .15 seconds or so in the 40.

The reason the short shuttle is sbutracted from the 40 is only an approximation. Basically, the shuttle consists of turns, and sprints. Subtracting out the sprints gives you an idea of how fast the turns and two step bursts are on their own.

The short shuttle has a 5 yard run, a turn, a ten yard run, a turn, and a 5 yard run. So, if you have a guy who runs a slow 40 (and slow 10), his short shuttle will look poor, even though he has good lateral agility. So, what you want to do is subtract out his poor sprinting, to get to true agility. The real way to do this would be to subtract his 5 and 10 yard splits (2 5 yards splits and one 10 yard split) from his short shuttle, and you'd be left with true turning speed. That's a better measure, but it's more complicated, and scouts normally like to have a quick thing to look at.

A more effective (to me) and pretty easy way to test burst and agility is simply to subtract the 10 yard split from the short shuttle (that way you're left with 2 five yard runs, and 3 turns, which pretty effectively measures 2 step burst AND lateral agility.

There are uses to all these things, some should just be updated.

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