Arizona Cardinals: Speed nice but not everything

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

The Arizona Cardinals receivers are speedy, however their other skills are more important

Much has been made about the 40-yard-dash this week at the NFL Scouting Combine, as usual. The Arizona Cardinals have a lot of speed in their receiving core but as we’ve learned speed isn’t everything.

The Cardinals are very lucky to have a speedy J.J. Nelson as one of the emerging stars at the position.  He has speed and can catch the ball.  He has started to learn to run more crisp routes.

Look at his production late in the season compared to earlier in the season?  He had a hard time hanging on to balls.  He started running cleaner routes and running by his defenders.  His 80-yard touchdown in Seattle on Christmas Eve is a prime example of that.

Guys like Michael Floyd?  What did speed do to help him?  Almost nothing.  It didn’t help him to catch the ball.  Then his off-field baggage ended his time in Arizona.

Today at the combine, University of Washington receiver John Ross ran an unofficial 4.22 40.  Hey, that’s great.  It wows people.  I get it.

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Now Ross too has the skills that can make him successful in the NFL.  The point here though is I don’t care much if his time was 4.22, 4.32 or 4.42.

Once gameday comes around, I want him to catch the ball.  I want him running clean routes.  I want him of course to beat his defenders and that’s where some of the speed comes in but unless he has all the other tangibles a 4.22 isn’t going to matter if the ball isn’t in his hands.

The 40 also doesn’t measure breakaway speed.  That is more of an added argument with running backs but can apply to receivers as well.

The 40 also doesn’t measure how one performs with defenders facing them.  What’s a player’s true speed with a defender back pedaling in his face?  It won’t be 4.22 and not many of us will be timing that on gameday anyway.