NFL scouts will almost always tell you the tape rules the day. But then you have cases every year that test their words.
Jarvis Jones is likely to be one of those players. The pass rusher is expected to run his 40 yard dash somewhere in the 4.7 range at Georgia’s pro day Thursday. That isn’t exactly the type of 40 time NFL teams hope for in an elite pass rusher. But will it matter?
Not according to one high ranking AFC exec. “We believe the tape is the best indicator of how a guy is going to play, and that guy was SEC defensive player of the year,” he said. “He had 14.5 sacks, 13.5 sacks the year before, a gazillion tackles for loss. He’s played big in big games. I put more credence in the tape than the workouts, especially with a guy like him.”
With some players, either the tape or the workout is lying. The job of the evaluator is to determine which.
Manti Te’o, he of the 4.82 40 yard dash time, is another player who scouts have to think hard about. “The 40 time really doesn’t concern me,” the executive said. “There have been a lot of linebackers who have run a 4.7, 4.8 and played very well in the league. If he is instinctive and tackles well, he plays with his eyes and can play off blocks, it’s OK. Short area quickness and the ability to read and process is more important than 40 times for middle linebackers.”
Another player trying to overcome the poor workout stigma is cornerback Johnthan Banks of Mississippi State, who ran a 4.62 at the combine.
“The workout was definitely a concern for Banks,” one general manager said. “But I think he can overcome his speed issues with his length. He picks off balls and makes plays.”
If workouts don’t overwhelm NFL teams, Jones will be a top 10 pick. Te’o will be picked between 15th and 25th in the first round. And Banks will be a second round pick.
Let’s watch and see if NFL teams can stay true to the tape.
Dan Pompei covers pro football for the Chicago Tribune at chicagotribune.com.