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Old 02-26-2013, 07:16 PM    (permalink
Monomach
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Default 40-Yard-Dash Accuracy Problem: Solved

Why is this not fixed the obvious way? Screw hand timing the start. Screw electronic timing the end.

1. Set up three high speed cameras that each cover the entire running area.
2. Turn on embedded time stamps. This should go to hundredths of a second on a high-speed camera.
3. Rig the cameras to start recording at the press of a button. This same button engages a buzzer next to the runner telling him to start, like the gunshot in track.
4. Have two league office personnel review the finish frame-by-frame (which goes beyond hundredths of a second) to determine exactly when any part of the runner's body crosses the line. The result must be unanimous. If it isn't, heads roll because there's only one correct answer and it's obvious. Note the time stamp. We now have an ultra-accurate photo-finish 40 time with proof right there on the video.
5. Send an email to every GM with the footage of all of the 40s attached.

We've got three cameras rolling on the same area, so two can break before we even need to worry about losing someone's 40. The potential for human error is entirely eliminated at the start. The entire run is recorded with a time stamp and can be watched frame-by-frame to judge whether a prospect's slow running is a style thing that can be fixed by team's coaches once he's drafted. Teams don't have to bother watching the 40s in real-time any more, let alone hand-timing them on their own. This time can be used to interview prospects or watch other drills with a different group.

Why is this not already happening? It's ridiculously easy.
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Old 02-26-2013, 07:30 PM    (permalink
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i like the idea. the only problem i see with it would be the buzzer that alerts the runner to start. that will slow down times. it becomes a reaction to the buzzer instead of starting whenever they are ready. also, it seems like if they have a slip or misstep someone is there to blow the wistle and they get to try again. there would be a lot more of that.

it seems like if they had a digital feed on the high speed cameras with time continuously running on it, it wouldn't take much math to figure it to the 100th or 1000th of a second when they started moving to when they crossed to the line. its just like your plan w/o the buzzer.

i agree, hand timing the start seems flawed. you'd figure with the billions of dollars the NFL has, they wouldn't need everyone holding stop watches getting flawed times. technology is amazing these days. gotta be something better
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:35 PM    (permalink
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Yeah, I definitely think the technology is available to get more accurate times. The official times might be more accurate than the unofficial times, but they are still a joke (see: Taylor Mays).
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:36 PM    (permalink
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I think "accuracy of the 40 yard dash time" is something that fans worry about, but teams don't. Everybody who's worked a stopwatch knows that it's possible to screw up one guy's run if you're looking at hundreds. This is why NFL teams have multiple scouts timing everything, and the official combine packet has multiple times for the same run. The "official" time is no more or less than what the NFL puts on the combine webpage/NFLN.

If you put together a lot of different measurements of the same run, throw out outliers, and average you'll get close enough to the accurate time.

Plus, it's not like teams are really interested in the difference between 4.35 and 4.33, and that sort of really-fine difference is the only real benefit to the extra expense spent on the high speed cameras.

I mean, if you were really interested in precise accuracy, it would be relatively simple (trivial with the NFL's money) to electronically time the start and the finish within .001 seconds.
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:40 PM    (permalink
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Solution is full-on electronic time. Technology is there for whatever type of start they deem necessary. Want track-style? Starting gun/beep etc. Want to keep the prospect determined start? Utilize laser/trigger start.

Personally they may as well go full-on track if they want precision accuracy with a proven accepted methodology. Mark-Set-BEEP. For teams wanting splits, etc you can easily have multiple checkpoints and the times would be available instantly.
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:46 PM    (permalink
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I think part of the problem with adjusting the way data is corrected at the combine is that the purpose of the combine is to generate data that can be compared to historical data, and when you start changing how that data is collected then you make that comparison less reliable.

Plus, let's not kid ourselves, even if they put a lot of effort in getting the 40 yard dash down accurate to within .001 seconds, they're still going to time the cone drill and short shuttle with stopwatches, and contrary to how these things are reported, the 40 yard dash is not more important than the 3 cone drill or short shuttle (for many positions it's clearly less important.)

For most everybody who's not a DB or WR, the really important part of the 40 is the first 10 yards anyway.
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:51 PM    (permalink
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I don't think a starting sound would work. Teams are looking for purely athletic ability and don't care how quickly their reaction time is on this.

It's kinda is a joke that there doesn't seem to be a better solution. Although as mentioned, were probably looking for a solution to a problem that isn't there. Teams trust their own timing and the official/unofficial stuff is for people like us. Even with a purely electronic exact time, scouts will be inclined to trust their old trusty stop watch.
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:52 PM    (permalink
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Originally Posted by Monomach View Post
Why is this not fixed the obvious way? Screw hand timing the start. Screw electronic timing the end.

1. Set up three high speed cameras that each cover the entire running area.
2. Turn on embedded time stamps. This should go to hundredths of a second on a high-speed camera.
3. Rig the cameras to start recording at the press of a button. This same button engages a buzzer next to the runner telling him to start, like the gunshot in track.
4. Have two league office personnel review the finish frame-by-frame (which goes beyond hundredths of a second) to determine exactly when any part of the runner's body crosses the line. The result must be unanimous. If it isn't, heads roll because there's only one correct answer and it's obvious. Note the time stamp. We now have an ultra-accurate photo-finish 40 time with proof right there on the video.
5. Send an email to every GM with the footage of all of the 40s attached.

We've got three cameras rolling on the same area, so two can break before we even need to worry about losing someone's 40. The potential for human error is entirely eliminated at the start. The entire run is recorded with a time stamp and can be watched frame-by-frame to judge whether a prospect's slow running is a style thing that can be fixed by team's coaches once he's drafted. Teams don't have to bother watching the 40s in real-time any more, let alone hand-timing them on their own. This time can be used to interview prospects or watch other drills with a different group.

Why is this not already happening? It's ridiculously easy.
Because NFL teams wouldn't use it.

NFL teams don't use the NFL.com official time, they handtime and use that. Talking with Josh, teams hand time to compare Combine and Pro Day Numbers for players to compare to each other only works if it is the same and any proposed plan wouldn't happen at every Pro Day. Basically it becomes a pointless cost
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Old 02-26-2013, 11:33 PM    (permalink
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Yeah, the unofficial times are a joke. I think the people running the combine are actually stupid enough to keep hand timing the runs.

You don't need high speed cameras. HDTV feed is already 60 FPS. That's sufficient.

I've been "measuring" most of the times myself. From what I've deduced, the "official" times start when the runners back foot is off the ground.
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Old 02-26-2013, 11:36 PM    (permalink
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I think "accuracy of the 40 yard dash time" is something that fans worry about, but teams don't.
This, this and this.
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Old 02-26-2013, 11:42 PM    (permalink
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If teams don't care about the accuracy, I don't see the point of running it at all. And they clearly come out in droves to see it.
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Old 02-26-2013, 11:47 PM    (permalink
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Don't you think teams get a good idea about a player's straight line speed without having a 40 yard dash time accurate to the 1,000th of a second?
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Old 02-26-2013, 11:50 PM    (permalink
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They should line everyone up at the combine and do a big 40 yard sprint and see how they all finish next to each other.
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Old 02-27-2013, 01:52 AM    (permalink
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Because NFL teams wouldn't use it.

NFL teams don't use the NFL.com official time, they handtime and use that. Talking with Josh, teams hand time to compare Combine and Pro Day Numbers for players to compare to each other only works if it is the same and any proposed plan wouldn't happen at every Pro Day. Basically it becomes a pointless cost
I think you hit the nail on the head, pro teams really don't care about the official times, they use their own hand times. Pro Days are all hand timed so it is impossible to compare official times to them.
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Old 02-27-2013, 03:11 AM    (permalink
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I think you hit the nail on the head, pro teams really don't care about the official times, they use their own hand times. Pro Days are all hand timed so it is impossible to compare official times to them.
Its not all that good of a comparison in the first place. Different tracks and all.

But if you really wanted to do it this way there are easier ways to do it instead of high speed cameras. A simple pressure mat at the beginning and end of the track is all you need.
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Old 02-27-2013, 09:17 AM    (permalink
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They should line everyone up at the combine and do a big 40 yard sprint and see how they all finish next to each other.
Seriously... I like that.... or whatever is a manageable number of runners.
Ten, 15, 20, whatever.
Run em side-by-side like the Olympics. Throw Rich Eisen in the heats with the OL too.
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Old 02-27-2013, 09:56 AM    (permalink
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they should make em run it in full pads and a helmet.
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Old 02-27-2013, 10:04 AM    (permalink
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they should make em run it in full pads and a helmet.
Exactly. It's so completely irrelevant in shorts, anyway. The times are relative. Prospects don't live or die on it unless they are way off what each team may have expected them to run.
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Old 02-27-2013, 12:25 PM    (permalink
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Exactly. It's so completely irrelevant in shorts, anyway. The times are relative. Prospects don't live or die on it unless they are way off what each team may have expected them to run.
It isn't irrelevant, pro scouts and GM's are checking out how good of an athlete each prospect is so they can go back to the film to see how well they use that athletism. Take a guy like Lacy, he has 3 or 4 first round talents blocking for him so unless he proves he is an athlete, you have to question his production.

Pro scouts and GM's also know from experience, how fast a player has to be to be productive at the next level. They are investing millions of dollars in their selections and want to see just what type of athlete they are getting.
Prospects do live or die by it if you judge it on the money they will make as a rookie. Everybody thought Milliner was a 4.50-4.55 type CB, when he ran a 4.31, he made himself millions of dollars and that goes for every position player at the combine.
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Old 02-27-2013, 12:28 PM    (permalink
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Its not all that good of a comparison in the first place. Different tracks and all.

But if you really wanted to do it this way there are easier ways to do it instead of high speed cameras. A simple pressure mat at the beginning and end of the track is all you need.
Pro teams aren't stupid, they know from experience how fast each college track is. They probably have a chart telling them how much time to add or subtract from each track's 40 in order to compare it to Combine times.
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Old 02-27-2013, 02:23 PM    (permalink
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It isn't irrelevant, pro scouts and GM's are checking out how good of an athlete each prospect is so they can go back to the film to see how well they use that athletism. Take a guy like Lacy, he has 3 or 4 first round talents blocking for him so unless he proves he is an athlete, you have to question his production.

Pro scouts and GM's also know from experience, how fast a player has to be to be productive at the next level. They are investing millions of dollars in their selections and want to see just what type of athlete they are getting.
Prospects do live or die by it if you judge it on the money they will make as a rookie. Everybody thought Milliner was a 4.50-4.55 type CB, when he ran a 4.31, he made himself millions of dollars and that goes for every position player at the combine.
I said "Prospects don't live or die on it unless they are way off what each team may have expected them to run."

You're example of Milliner supports my point. So, thanks, I guess?
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Old 02-27-2013, 04:34 PM    (permalink
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they should make em run it in full pads and a helmet.
Again, the purpose of the combine is to generate data you can compare to historical data. If you change how the 40 is run, then you're basically throwing away decades of historical trends you can look at. In the long run, you might end up better off (20-30 years from now), but the people doing evaluations for teams don't have that kind of job security, so it's obvious why they don't want to change it up radically.
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Old 02-27-2013, 04:46 PM    (permalink
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Again, the purpose of the combine is to generate data you can compare to historical data. If you change how the 40 is run, then you're basically throwing away decades of historical trends you can look at. In the long run, you might end up better off (20-30 years from now), but the people doing evaluations for teams don't have that kind of job security, so it's obvious why they don't want to change it up radically.
Excellent point. Scouts and GM's use hand timing, so they can judge a prospect against every other prospect they have ever hand timed and aren't likely to change any time soon.
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Old 02-28-2013, 12:09 AM    (permalink
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Pro teams aren't stupid, they know from experience how fast each college track is. They probably have a chart telling them how much time to add or subtract from each track's 40 in order to compare it to Combine times.
They defiantly have to account for the different schools. Heck the new stadium in Indy is slower than the old one.
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Old 02-28-2013, 09:56 AM    (permalink
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They defiantly have to account for the different schools. Heck the new stadium in Indy is slower than the old one.
It is prety clear that the new stadium in Indy is a lot faster than the old one, not slower. They made sure of that to convince most prospects to run at Indy when in the pas,t the slower track at Indy convinced agents to run at Pro Days.
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