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2019 NFL Combine Props: What Will Be the Fastest 40-Yard Dash?

Feb 21, 2019 11:29 PM EST
Credit:

Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: John Ross

  • The NFL combine starts on February 26, when more than 300 prospects will gather in Indianapolis for evaluation.
  • Combine props have been released, including those for fastest 40-yard dash and highest vertical jump.
  • NFL Draft Analyst Matthew Freedman breaks down the props and highlights those that offer the most value.

The NFL combine is less than a week away. Players start to report to Indianapolis as early as February 26, with position groups working out according to the following schedule.

  • Friday, March 1: Running backs, offensive linemen, kickers, special teams
  • Saturday, March 2: Quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends
  • Sunday, March 3: Defensive linemen, linebackers
  • Monday, March 4: Defensive backs

Some sportsbooks have released NFL combine props, which are presented here along with our analysis based on official combine data going back to 2006.

Fastest 40-Yard Dash

  • Under 4.22 seconds: +200
  • 4.22 seconds or over: -300

Just once in the past 13 years (at least) has someone hit the 4.22-second mark at the combine: Wide receiver John Ross in 2017. Before him, the combine record was held by running back Chris Johnson, who hit a mark of 4.24 in 2008.

The -300 odds suggest that the record has a 75% chance of not being broken, and I think that number is way too low. Historical performances don’t happen every year, and the 2019 draft class doesn’t have a plethora of speedy athletes.

All the top marks in the 40-yard dash are held by running backs, wide receivers and corner backs. As far as I’ve found, this year’s class has no remarkably speedy backs or corners of note. Additionally, many of the 2019 rookie wide receivers are of the big-body variety, and the premier speedy receiver in the class, Marquise Brown of Oklahoma, will miss the combine after undergoing surgery for a Lisfranc injury.

I bet 4.22 seconds or over at -300 and would bet it all the way to -1000.

The Pick: 4.22 seconds or over (-300)

Fastest 40-Yard Dash

  • Under 4.29 seconds: -120
  • Over 4.29: -120

In seven of the past 13 years, eight prospects have run a 40-yard dash in 4.28 seconds or faster. In general we should expect to see someone run faster than 4.29 seconds about 50% to 60% of the time.

Assuming that exactly 4.29 seconds is a push, I see no benefit to betting on this.

The Pick: Pass

Highest Vertical Jump

  • Over 45 inches: +225
  • 45 inches or under: -350

The combine record for vertical jump is 45 inches, held by wide receiver Chris Conley (2015) and cornerback Donald Washington (2009). Several other players have come close to that mark over the past few years, such as cornerback Byron Jones (44.5, 2015).

Even though the +225 odds imply otherwise, I think the odds are greater that someone breaks the vertical record than the 40 record. After all, at the top of the leader board are safeties and tight ends in addition to wide receivers, cornerbacks and running backs: More players have a realistic shot at breaking this record.

But the -350 odds that the record won’t be broken are still generous, carrying a 77.8% implied probability that the highest jump this year won’t be more than 45 inches. I’d put that number closer to 85%, considering that in just two of 13 years (15.4%) has that number been hit.

I bet 45 inches or under at -350 and would bet it to -600.

The Pick: 45 inches or under (-350)

Highest Vertical Jump

  • Over 43.5 inches: -120
  • Under 43.5 inches: -120

Assuming that 43.5 is a push, I’m staying away from this bet. Five players over the past 13 years have jumped at least 44.0 inches. Four have hit the 43.5 mark exactly. Another three have been right under that with 43.0.

I just see this as too much of a coin flip to warrant a wager.

The Pick: Pass

Longest Broad Jump

  • Over 12 feet 3 inches: +250
  • 12 feet 3 inches or under: -400

The combine record for broad jump is 12 feet 3 inches, set by cornerback Byron Jones in 2015.

Before Jones, the record was held by Jamie Collins, who hit the 11-foot-7 mark in 2013. Since Jones, safety Obi Melifonwu came the closest to challenging the record with an 11-foot-9 leap in 2017. He now is second in the combine standings.

A full six inches separate Jones from Melifonwu. And only nine people over the past 13 years have come within 11 inches of Jones’ mark. For perspective: Jones is a bona fide three-sigma athlete. He’s incredibly special.

I will be shocked if anyone breaks this mark within the next few years.

I bet 12 feet 3 inches or under at -400 and would bet it to -1000.

The Pick: 12 feet 3 inches or under (-400)

Most Bench Presses

  • Over 49.5 reps: +325
  • Under 49.5 reps: -550

Defensive tackle Stephen Paea set the combine record for the bench press with 49 reps in 2011. Before him, offensive lineman Mitch Petrus had the record with the 45 he put up in 2010.

No one in the past five years has hit even the 43-rep mark. The high last year was 42. I’d be impressed if anyone hits 45 this year. A new record of 50 seems highly unlikely. I’d give it less than a 5% chance, and even that seems conservative.

I bet under 49.5 reps at -550 and would bet it to -1000.

The Pick: Under 49.5 reps (-550)

Most Bench Presses

  • Over 40 reps: -120
  • Under 40 reps: -120

There’s some value on the over here. Nine players in the past 13 years have had at least 41 bench presses, and two more have had exactly 40. The historical rate suggests that there’s a 69.2% chance of someone surpassing the 40-rep mark, and the -120 odds carry an implied probability of just 54.5%.

I bet over 40 reps at -120 and would bet it to -170.

The Pick: Over 40 reps (-120)

Fastest 60-Yard Shuttle

  • Under 10.71 seconds: +140
  • 10.71 seconds or over: -180

The combine record for the long shuttle is held by wide receiver Shelton Gibson, who hit a mark of 10.71 seconds in 2017. Before him, wide receiver Brandin Cooks set the record in 2014 with a time of 10.72 seconds, a mark that cornerback Avonte Maddox hit last year.

Of all the combine records, this one is probably the most vulnerable, which the +140 odds suggest. In the past eight years, five players have submitted a time of 10.75 seconds or faster.

But here’s the thing: Of all the speed, agility and explosiveness drills, the 60-yard shuttle is generally considered the least important. A lot of players do the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle. Fewer do the 60-yard shuttle, which means that the record has an enhanced chance of standing.

The -180 odds give the record a 64.3% implied probability of making it through the 2019 combine. I think the real odds are probably closer to 75%. Maybe 80%.

I bet 10.71 seconds or over at -180 and would bet it to -250.

The Pick: 10.71 seconds or over (-180)

Rich Eisen: 40-Yard Dash Time

  • Over 6.00 seconds: -120
  • Under 6.00 seconds: -120

For more analysis on this prop, see Ian Hartitz’s historical overview of Rich Eisen’s 40-yard exploits.

Since 2005, Eisen (a sportscaster for NFL Network) has run the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. He wears a suit while running, which clearly slows him down, but since 2010 his performance has dramatically improved thanks to his decision to wear cleats.

In the “footwear era,” he has averaged 6.05 seconds, but over the past five years that number has dropped to 6.002.

Over the past three years, Eisen has averaged 5.98 seconds, and last year he blazed a 5.97.

This is a fun prop, but given the -120 odds on both sides I don’t see any value.

The Pick: Pass

Freedman’s Favorite Combine Props

The six investable props highlighted above I am considering as official picks to count toward my 2019 prop record.

Here are the props listed collectively for convenience.

  • Fastest 40-yard dash: 4.22 seconds or over (-300)
  • Highest vertical jump: 45 inches or under (-350)
  • Longest broad jump: 12 feet 3 inches or under (-400)
  • Most bench presses: Under 49.5 reps (-550), over 40 reps (-120)
  • Fastest 60-yard shuttle: 10.71 seconds or over (-180)

As more combine props are released, we’ll publish breakdowns on The Action Network NFL page.


Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.

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