# How fast is that wide receiver running?

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

• Hey guys, it has been a bit of a long offseason and with us currently being in the dead zone I decided to dust off some numbers I crunched awhile ago to perhaps fill some of that void with something that sort of resembles football.
• This week I'll be using math and combine/pro-day data to calculate the “top” speeds of 73 qualifying players at the wide receiver position from last season.

## Can't see the forest for the trees

Time to split these puppies into groups!

### “Elite” game speed

It is never too early for controversy.

### Above average game speed

The home of players about as fast as Tyrone Holmes…

### “Average” speed

Found some Jaguars players…

## Evaluating wide receivers by size and speed

Wide Receivers have the widest height range of any playing positions.

In the past 20 years, Wide Receivers as short as 5-7 have been drafted as early as the fourth round (Craig Yeast of Kentucky and Travis Hannah of USC) while receivers as tall as 6-6 (Matt Jones of Arkansas) have been drafted in the first round .

This wide range leads one to wonder whether height plays a significant role in determining when a player is drafted. To answer this question, DRAFTMETRICS divided wide receivers into three groups and then studied the drafting patterns for the 1993-2012 drafts. The three groups were:

• • 5-10 or shorter(“Group 1”) • 5-11 to 6-1 (“Group 2”
• • 6-2 and taller(“Group 3”)

The following table shows that, with the exception of the first round, Group 2 Wide Receivers are most frequently drafted, with the fewest number of draftees coming from Group 1. Only 10% of first round draftees were 5-10 and shorter. In fact, Kendall Wright was the first first-round draft choice in Group 1 since Mark Clayton in 2005.

DRAFTMETRICS then made a cursory review of the careers of the players comprising the three groups to see if there were any lessons to be learned.

DRAFTMETRICS conducted this review this by determining the number of players by group and by round that achieved the milestones of (1) a 5-year career and (2) at least one year as a starter.

It is recognized that this cursory reviews ignores the fact that 2009-2012 draftees cannot possibly have had a five-year career. DRAFTMETRICS assumes that this affected all groups equally and, therefore, did not distort the comparative results.

There are no earthshaking trends noted in the next table, which shows the percentage of Wide Receivers who achieve the two milestones discussed above.

While there is variation by round, Group 2 and 3 tend to be slightly more successful than the shorter receivers. It is also worth noting that there is an unexplainable drop off in the results of Group 3 in the sixth round of the draft.

Without that drop off, for which I have no logical explanation, the results of Group 2 and Group 3 would be pretty close to identical.

Having reviewed the implications of size alone, DRAFTMETERICS next introduced 40 times into the mix.

Does speed itself, or speed in conjunction with size, make a difference at Wide Receiver? This analysis is hampered by the fact that DRAFTMETRICS only has access to the Combine 40 times for just over half the Wide Receivers that were drafted but that is a sufficient number of data points to be meaningful.

Somewhat arbitrarily, DRAFTMETRICS established a cut-off of a 4.50 40 time as the dividing line for this analysis.

The following table shows the number and percentage of players in each of the Groups that ran the 40 in less than 4.50 and those that ran 4.50 or slower.

It should be mentioned that most of the players studied did run 4.60 or better. Only 30 of the 159 players who ran 4.50 and higher had times higher than 4.60.

As can be seen in the table the percentage of players that ran less than 4.50 was fairly close to the same for Group 1 and Group 2. Group 3 had a far lower percentage of players that ran under 4.

50, except for the first round. The importance of speed for a first round draft choice is obvious from the table. Over three-quarters of first round draft choices ran the 60 in less than 4.50 seconds.

One thing DRAFTMETRICS found somewhat surprising is that the percentage of players who run sub-4.50 40 times continued to drop off throughout the draft. It might have been a reasonable expectation that at some point in the draft, NFL teams would take more chances on fast receivers with weaknesses in other areas but this does not seem to have been the case.

The final step in this analysis was to compare the results by the combination of speed and size. (The population size is even smaller for this exercise as a total of only 228 players achieved the milestones.

) For this purpose, DRAFTMETRICS measured only the number of players in each size group and speed group who became five-year starters (with the same acknowledgement regarding the 2009-2012 draftees as above).

The following table summarizes the results.

This table does not show a meaningful differences in success rates, but does show that receivers that Group 3 players that run below 4.50 do a have marginally higher overall success rate. This despite have no success at all, still unexplainable, in the sixth round. Wide Receivers who run 4.

50 and higher actually have higher success rates than the faster receivers in five of the seven draft rounds. There is such a large difference in favor of the faster Wide Receivers in rounds five and six, though, that the faster players have an overall edge.

To sum it all up, the most significant findings in this analysis are:

• Wide receivers measuring between 5-11 and 6-1 make almost half of the receivers drafted • There is not a major difference in success among the three “height groups” o Slight edge to receivers 5-11 to 6-1 • Receivers 6-2 and taller have an inexplicable lack of success in the sixth round of the draft • Speed is very big factor in being drafted early, regardless of height o 77% of first round receivers run the 40 in 4.50 or less, compared to about 50% in the rest of the draft • Wide receivers 6-2 and over and who run less than 4.50 in the 40 have a success rate that is moderately higher than the other groups o This despite having a 0% success rate in the sixth round • Wide receivers 5-11 to 6-1 have the highest success rate among draftees who run the 40 in 4.50 or higher • Faster wide receivers do have a higher success rate, largely the result of rounds five and six

ABOVE PHOTO: San Francisco 49ers Wide Receiver Marquise Goodwin (11) looks to pass on the run during the first half an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Cincinnati.   (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

• ASSOCIATED PRESS
• After selecting TCU wide receiver Jalen Reagor with the 21st overall pick in the NFL draft, the Eagles acquired wideout Marquise Goodwin from the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday and chose two other fast receivers.
• The Eagles picked Boise State’s John Hightower in the fifth round and Southern Mississippi’s Quez Watkins in the sixth round.

Adding receivers was Philadelphia’s biggest priority. Last season, Carson Wentz became the first player to throw for more than 4,000 yards despite not having a wide receiver reach 500 yards, in part because of injuries. Wentz led the Eagles to four straight wins in December to secure an NFC East title with a group of castoffs at receiver.

Getting Reagor, Goodwin, Hightower and Watkins should help. They join veterans DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery, 2019 second-round pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward and others.

“Can he run? Is he healthy? Does he love to play? That was going to be our offseason motto,” personnel boss Howie Roseman said.

Goodwin spent his first four seasons with Buffalo and past three in San Francisco. He has 140 receptions for 2,323 yards and 13 TDs in his career.

Goodwin has been plagued by injuries and played 16 games only once, in 2017, when he had career highs in receptions (56) and yards (962).

“Marquise is one of the fastest men in the world. I mean that,” Roseman said.

CLOCKING IN

Hightower, 6-foot-1 and 189 pounds, led Boise State in yards (943) and TD receptions (eight), while finishing second in catches (51) as a senior. He ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash at the combine.

“I was running track before I started playing football, so the track background definitely helped me with my quickness, being able to outrun defenders,” he said.

Watkins, 6-foot and 185 pounds, had 159 receptions for 2,404 yards and 17 TDs in 35 college games. He ran a 4.35 in the 40 at the combine.

“A lot of people may not know me now, but really by the end of the season people are going to know me,” Watkins said. “I’m really not somebody that’s going to try to stay off to the side. I’m going to show up to the competition and show everybody what I’m about, show them I’m ready to play and show them why I’m an Eagle.”

1. BUSY SATURDAY
2. The Eagles started Day 3 by taking Clemson defensive back K’Von Wallace and Auburn offensive lineman Jack Driscoll in the fourth round.
3. Wallace was mentored by Pro Football Hall of Famer Brian Dawkins, a former Clemson star and Eagles legend, and Troy Vincent, a five-time Pro Bowl cornerback and current league executive.

Roseman then made several trades, flipping a fourth-rounder (No. 146) for picks Nos. 196, No. 200, No. 233 and a 2021 fifth-rounder.

Temple linebacker Shaun Bradley was picked at No. 196. Watkins went at No. 200. Stanford defensive end Casey Toohill was the team’s final selection at No. 233 in the seventh round.

The Eagles swapped sixth-round picks to get Goodwin, giving San Francisco No. 190 and taking No. 210. They used it on Auburn offensive lineman Prince Tega Wanogho.

HURTS SO GOOD

On Friday night, Philadelphia stunned everyone by drafting Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts with the 53rd overall pick in the second round even though they have Wentz.

“We’re always going to make a point of emphasis to look at the quarterback position and try the best we can to develop quarterbacks,” coach Doug Pederson said. “I think that’s just smart. It protects that position. We’re trying to develop depth and competition. I’ve always told you guys the quarterback position is never immune to that.

## Coaching the Wide Receiver – The Speed Cut

By Drew Lieberman | Posted 3/11/2019

The ability to stop on a dime and change direction suddenly are two keys for any great wide receiver. However, many scouts and fans are confused in thinking that a player’s shuttle time or L drill performance translates into crisp route running. It does not.

The primary athletic trait that allows a player to stop and start on a dime during route running is body control. For receivers, body control comes as a result of practicing specific techniques and footwork patterns until they become second nature.

It’s not just “body control” in a general sense that can make a great receiver – it’s the ability to control his body during the specific breakpoints that translates to great route running. There are very specific coaching points attached to each break point that the receiver must aim to achieve.

By executing these small mechanical details over and over again, the receiver will learn to maintain body control throughout every route.

Every great receiver must spend hours upon hours running routes and mastering the technique of each break point until it becomes muscle memory and second nature. Once he has accumulated enough reps at each movement, it will become easy for the athlete to execute each break point suddenly because each one is familiar to him.

Arguably the hardest break point to maintain body control is the “Speed Cut” because it inherently requires the receiver to cut violently at full speed.

Many other break points allow the receiver the freedom to slow down before the break and then power through it or slow down to add a hip shift vs. a man defender. This is not so with the Speed Cut – completing these routes is all about speed and timing with the QB.

Running into the break point so fast makes the receiver vulnerable to losing control, which makes the details of the Speed Cut even more important.

Before breaking down those details – it’s important for the receiver to understand how to set himself up for success during these Speed Cut routes:

In most offensive systems – the straight stemmed “speed outs” are only run vs. loose coverage and will convert vs. press coverage or cover 2.

Which means that the receiver’s main objective before breaking is to threaten the DB vertically, loosen his cushion even more and make him feel as if the receiver is running by him until he speed cuts away at the last second. These routes require the “everything is a fade until it’s not” mentality.

RELATED CONTENT: Coaching the Wide Receiver – The details of a slant route

If the DB is playing loose man coverage or quarters where he can stay square to the WR for as long as possible then it is very important to come off the ball with great speed and do everything possible to threaten the DB off the ball and influence him to flip his hips and defend the vertical route over the top.

The receiver must be conscious of opening up his stride and running with a low pad level to sell vertical here. His speed off the ball and body language must be screaming “fade!” to the DB in order to instigate him to flip his hips!

If the DB is playing Cover 3 or some sort of zone coverage where he turns in towards the QB – then speed off the ball is less important and chasing the DBs near hip to get into his “blind spot” before breaking becomes the key to winning. When running a Speed Cut route vs. a DB that is zone turned – it is much more important for the receiver to tempo his speed and settle right in the DBs hip pocket before breaking.

Regardless of the pace at which the receiver enters the Speed Cut – the receiver must accelerate through the cut with great speed every time and round the corner without slowing down at all! He always wants to feel in control, with his feet within the framework of his body, but speed through the cut is extremely important here, which is why this break point must be practiced over and over so that the receiver has a good feel for maintaining body control and executing the proper mechanics at this velocity.

## How Fast is That Wide Receiver Running?

In honor of the start of the NFL season, today's post is aimed at teaching you an easy method that you can use to answer this question for yourself…and for all your friends at game day parties too. There's a longer Math Dude article on this topic, so if you want to know all the details, be sure to check that out.

The first thing to know is that speed (which is typically measured in miles per hour in the US) is just a measure of the total distance travelled divided by the time it takes to cover that distance. So 30 miles per hour means that if you move at 30 miles per hour for 1 hour, you'll travel 30 miles. Easy!

10 yards / sec ≈ 20 miles / hour

So if you see that it takes a player 1 second to run 10 yards (which is easy to do on a football field since there are big lines running all the way across the field every 5 yards), then the player must be running about 20 miles per hour. If it instead takes him 2 seconds to cover that same 10 yards, then his speed must be only 10 miles per hour.

And that's the trick! So the next time you're watching a football game, you can impress your friends by telling them how fast everybody is running. It's sure to give a whole new perspective on what's taking place on the field!

Football Player image courtesy of Shutterstock