When news broke Sunday about Georgia Tech’s Jonathan Dwyer running a less-than-impressive 40 time, I was instantly bombarded with emails and texts asking if I was ready to re-evaluate my running back rankings and drop Dwyer from the top spot.
My answer: Not at all.
Have we learned nothing from the past about 40 times and running backs’ success at the next level? The 40 is one of the most overrated measuring sticks for the position, and just seeing Dwyer run in the 4.6 range is nothing to get upset about.
Last year at this time, Iowa running back Shonn Greene also ran a disappointing 40 at the NFL Combine -- in the 4.6 range -- but was still the best rookie running back of anyone drafted in 2009 in my opinion. So the notion that Dwyer should instantly drop because of two 40-yard sprints is, in my mind, preposterous.
Watching Dwyer in position drills Sunday is the reason I have him as my No. 1-rated back. He consistently ran with good bend and balance, showcasing impressive lateral quickness and body control for a guy his size. He also exhibited a good first step and did a nice job getting up to speed quickly out of his breaks.
Also, Dwyer is a guy who is only going to get better in a more traditional NFL offense. Remember, at Georgia Tech he was consistently lined up only four yards behind the line of scrimmage, with his hand on the ground, and was asked to create with only minimum space to read the line and generate a burst out of his stance.
Now imagine how much more effective he can be lined up eight yards behind the line, with a fullback in front of him. He’ll be given more time to read the line of scrimmage as well as have more room to generate speed and power attacking downhill.
Will Dwyer ever be a big-time home run threat in the NFL? No. But much like Larry Johnson during the early part of his career, Dwyer will be able to produce his share of 20-plus yard runs because of his ability to create for himself at line of scrimmage and break tackles once he gets to the second level.
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