During the draft evaluation process I probably employ at least as much logic as I do number crunching in Excel. The problem with taking a number at face value, without subjecting it to further critical thinking, is that there are any number of ways that numbers can misinform. That’s something that the “stats are for losers” crowd actually gets right. What they get wrong though is saying that numbers can only misinform.
When I saw that Charcandrick West had run a 4.47 against the wind and a 4.27 with the wind, my inclination was to split the difference and assign him a 4.37. But while watching a clip of West’s highlights on Youtube I noticed that one of the commenters had pointed out that West was actually caught from behind on one of his runs (this is perhaps the first useful endeavor that Youtube commenters have ever been involved in).
I think it’s the case that a 4.27 player would almost never be caught from behind when playing the kind of competition that West faced at Abilene Christian. In fact, a 4.4 player is going to be faster than a vast majority of the players that West would have faced. If you watch the cutup below I think you’ll also come away thinking that West is a lot more likely to be in that 4.4-4.5 range than in the 4.3’s. That also makes sense in light of West’s yards per carry, which are good at 6.2, but not otherworldly as you would expect from a player that is faster than everyone else on the field. Remember that Taiwan Jones was another small school prospect with a blazing fast 40 time. He averaged 7.9 yards per carry at Eastern Washington. There are lots of RBs that play BCS level competition that roll up 6 yards per carry, but don’t run in the 4.3s. I think I would expect a player as fast as West is reported to be to be in that 7 yards per carry range.
I still think West is a very intriguing prospect, but I do like to go through critical thinking exercises like this any time I’m dealing with the nebulous world of pro day results.