Well, of course I care. Don’t be stupid. If that sounds familiar, it’s because 40 times in general have been declared as important already this offseason. Rotoviz genius Shawn Siegele has determined that we probably overrate 40 times, but that in general, when comparing similar prospects, it’s best to side with the faster player. The short form of the 40 time debate, is that yes it matters, no, it isn’t the holy grail of WR evaluation.
Enter Mike Evans. He is listed by his college as 6’5″, 225 pounds. These are his college numbers, via the Rotoviz College WR Career Graphs App.
The yards per target is elite, and the RZ conversion rate is above average. His dominator rating of .3 is a little concerning, as it is well below his peers at the position such as Allen Robinson and Jordan Matthews. Clearly, Evans is a worthwhile prospect. His size alone will ensure some level of usefulness in the NFL, but for our purposes, it’s important to put his size into historical context.
This is a Pro-Football Reference search for all WR’s 6’4 or taller and 224 pounds or heavier in their first six seasons with over 100 career catches, followed by a table of all of the players’ 40 times.
Tall WR Stats
Tall WR 40's
|Mike Williams (Sea)||4.56|
- A study I did on my website found that the semi-magic number for WR 40’s times was 4.55. When a receiver runs a 4.55 or slower, their chances of sustained success for fantasy football are dramatically lowered. When a player runs below 4.55, their chances for success increase. In fact, between 1999 and 2011, 41% of WR’s selected in rounds 1 through 3 who ran a 4.55 or faster posted a top 30 fantasy season at some point. Without applying dominator rating, height, or any sort of variable, a 40 time above the 4.55 threshold is predictive close to 40% of the time in terms of future success.
- In the above table, there is a correlation with the 4.55 threshold. Only Plaxico Burress and Joe Jurevicius posted a top 30 season out of that group of players who ran slower than a 4.55 and Jurevicius’ happened as a result of an extremely fluky 10 touchdown season after he had played for 8 seasons already. Chaz Schilens could never stay healthy enough to prove if he was good or not, and Matt Jones was a converted quarterback DRAFTED IN THE FIRST ROUND BY THE JAGUARS. The punter>Russell Wilson stuff is just a long pattern of LOLJags.
- Calvin Johnson, Vincent Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall and Marques Colston all fell pretty perfectly into the Rotoviz patterns. Very good DR’s and the requisite speed. Safe to say none of us would be considering Matt Jones, the 2005 Denard Robinson, with our 1st round rookie pick.
- So, essentially, even for really tall, athletic freaks, the 4.55 rule applies. Mike Williams busted (probably for non 40 time related reasons) despite having a solid DR. Reggie Williams busted and Jurevicius did nothing until much later.
So yes, I absolutely care what Mike Evans’ 40 time is. His collegiate market shares do not put him in elite territory, certainly not enough to warrant looking over a poor showing at the combine. However, if he does run, say, a 4.52, he winds up in the conversation with players like Alshon Jeffery and Vincent Jackson, who is his most frequent comp from the Youtube-Clip grinding populace.