Cash for a fast Combine 40, and the Cardinals

Posted by Darren Urban on February 9, 2016 – 3:13 pm

Long before he came to the Cardinals, even before he rushed for 2,000 yards and became the only player in NFL history to have more than 2,500 yards from scrimmage in a season, Chris Johnson caught everyone’s attention when he ran a 4.24-second 40-yard dash at the 2008 Scouting combine (I think, had he lasted until the second round, the Cardinals were very interested at the time. They took Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie 16th; Johnson went 24th to the Titans.)

So this year, adidas is offering up $1 million for any player who can top Johnson’s speed at the combine. (The catch: A player has to wear the company’s Adizero 5-star 40 cleats.) In previous years, adidas has been offering 40 money — $100,000 at a time. Two years ago, $100,000 went to current Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who went 4.33 seconds. That still gets a wistful shake of the head from Cardinals wideout Smokey Brown, who ran a 4.34 and understands how close he came to the cash.

Last year, the prize was going to be a custom Porsche, but it conflicted with NFL endorsements, so three guys collected $100,000 each instead: Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes (4.31), Colts wideout Phillip Dorsett (4.33) and Bears wideout Kevin White (4.35). The painful Cardinals connection was that it was actually wide receiver J.J. Nelson who ran the faster 40 time at the combine last year, at 4.28. But to win the money the player had to be signed to an adidas endorsement contract before he ran. The other three were. Alas, Nelson was not.

J J Nelson

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Posted in Blog | 23 Comments »

23 Responses to “Cash for a fast Combine 40, and the Cardinals”

  1. By Scott H on Feb 9, 2016 | Reply

    Good lord, has September EVER seemed more far away than it does this year??? This is brutal. This is a much different feeling than after losing in the SB back in 2008. I swear, the adrenaline that had built up through that playoff run and from the game we played in the SB took months to wear off. I was just SO PROUD of how this team played and how great were in that SB. It is currently regarded by many as the best SB ever, by just about everyone as at least one of the best.

    But I don’t feel any of that right now. Even though they were a better regular season team than the 2008 team, the regular season is where they peaked. In 2008, they peaked DURING their post-season run. That last game against Seattle and the way we had our asses handed to us….there was just something about that game and the feeling it created ( for me, anyway ). Palmer looked off, the offense went kaput, and the defense was nowhere to be found. Our S/T’s sucked, too.

    The lackluster performance against GB and ESPECIALLY our defense allowing the TWO Hail Mary passes on that last drive re-inforced a feeling that this team just didn’t have it. For me, anyway.

    Then, looking like they didn’t even belong where they were when they completely failed to show up in the NFC title game….ugh.

    The 2008 post-season was like a crescendo that took us UP to the high-point. This post-season just felt like an un-inspired collapse. Very sad. And hard to deal with when there is nothing but months and months before your team will have a chance to shake it off and show us that maybe they CAN bring us back to that title game again.

    To hell with the combine. I’m already in training camp mode. How screwed am I right now???

  2. By georgiebird on Feb 9, 2016 | Reply

    re: Smokey
    I’m not here to doubt Smokey’s time at the combine. But while Smokey plays fast, there are many times during the year he doesn’t exhibit 4.34 speed. There are WRs slower than Smokey who seem to separate much better.
    On Luke Keuckley’s pick six against the Cards’, Smokey should have made a much better attempt running LK down. In 22 yards, he made up no ground on the LB.
    Times in the 40 are so overrated.

  3. By Darren Urban on Feb 9, 2016 | Reply

    Georgie —

    RE: 40 times

    Given what I wrote, that might be the Georgiebird-est comment ever.

  4. By UAB Blazer fan on Feb 9, 2016 | Reply

    I thought JJ showed up at the Adidas endorsement table but they rebuffed him. I think he actually did wear Adidas while he ran. Adidas should do the right thing and award him the money.

  5. By Doug b on Feb 9, 2016 | Reply

    Was it me or Did Ted Ginn play with so much more competiveness,passion, and speed this year with the Panthers than he ever did with us? What’s up with that? Commenters kept saying Cardinals made a mistake getting rid of Ginn, but with us played safe and cautious. Almost afraid to make a mistake. So yeah we let him go, but maybe that’s what the key was for him….

  6. By Andy Kw on Feb 9, 2016 | Reply

    Will the Cardinals get a compensatory pick for losing CB Antonio Cromartie?
    Maybe a 5th?

  7. By georgiebird on Feb 9, 2016 | Reply

    “Georgiebird-est”- coming from you I am flattered. It’s original and it may have legs. Although from the southpaw side, a compliment nonetheless.

  8. By All Day on Feb 10, 2016 | Reply

    Honestly adidas is making themselves look foolish sometimes. They will never be where Nike is at that’s probably why no one signs with them. Even when you look at their basketball athletes they over pay them to sign with them and that’s the only reason they do. I wouldn’t sign with adidas either because Nike has better opportunities

  9. By Andy Kw on Feb 10, 2016 | Reply

    I really want Sam Acho back! I’m still a big fan of his. We need better back up options. He is way better than Kareem Martin.

  10. By John The Draft Guy on Feb 10, 2016 | Reply

    Speed does make a difference in most cases. That Denver defense has speed everywhere and flew to the ball. Von Miller can take over a game.

    So, how do we get a Von Miller (remembering he was the 2nd overall pick and we pick at the bottom of round 1)

    Noah Spence is a guy who had a lot of the same issues a Honey Badger. He seems to have rebuilt his image, but will he fall due to his past drug use and will the cards take a chance (remember, PP was a huge part to why HB was picked) Best pass rusher as an OLB in draft

    Jaylon Smith – OK, not an OLB but This guy is a stud. He would thrive as an ILB and will sack the QB on blitzes. Might be gone (should be gone) but an injury might have him slip a bit.

    Eric Striker – remember this name. Like Honey Badger, who is too small to play, Striker is an undersized OLB. But like Matheu, this guy can flat out make plays. A late 3rd round or 4th round pick, he could be another Elvis Dummervil. But I just think the guy is a football player and you can never have enough of them.

    James Cowser is a sleeper who could go late in the draft. a small school guy who set all kinds of sack records. Good hands, high motor. interesting.

    Then you have the two Georgia OLBs. Leonard Floyd and Jordon Jenkins are both good OLBs. Floyd is quicker, more explosive and looks like a first round pick. But his big difference between him and Miller, Miller can use power. Floyd is all about speed. Now Jenkins is a complete guy but does not have the explosion that Floyd has. Put them together and you would have a high first round pick. Floyd , to me, is one of those boom or bust guys.

    As for guys like Kevin Dodd, Shaq Larsen, Ogbah, Nassib, Oatman, ect…. Unless Georgiebird gets his wish and we convert to a 4-3 team, none of these guys fit. They are 4-3 ends not OLBs. We are a 3-4 team and need to draft guys who are LBs not converted ends.

  11. By mitchaz on Feb 10, 2016 | Reply

    JohnThe Draft Guy—

    Seeing as the Cardinals go with a 4 man line 63% of the time—rush DEs in the 4-3 mode are actually what the Cardinals need. It would be nice to draft OLB/DE types who are versatile enough to play 34OLB and 452DE—but those guys are so difficult to find, which is why passing on quality DE rushers like Shaq Larsen or Kevin Dodd could be a mistake.

    Your take on Eric Striker is right on—and maybe the Cardinals can take him in the 3rd, as they did with the Honey Badger.

    As for Noah Spence—some team in the top 15 will draft him because of his speed and the fact that he steadied himself at Eastern Kentucky.

  12. By georgiebird on Feb 10, 2016 | Reply

    re:40 times
    So you are agreeing with me about Smokey? Since my comment was a regurgitation of your article.

  13. By Darren Urban on Feb 10, 2016 | Reply

    Georgie —

    RE: Smokey

    Actually, my article was about 40 times at the combine and winning money for fast times. Your comment had zero to do with that, other than in a backhanded way using it as another chance to take a swipe at someone.

  14. By John The Draft Guy on Feb 10, 2016 | Reply


    Glad to have another Eric Striker believer. I have loved watching this guy the past 2 years.

    I do agree that 3-4 OLBs who can go get a QB are hard to find. This is one reason Georgiebird has preached on this board for many years of going to a 4-3. But I like the 3-4 and they are out there, you just have to find them.

    The base defense the cards run is a 3-4. Now, when you have obvious passing situations, the cards take out the nose and replace him with another DB. That makes a 4 man front. Thus, the high% since we put teams in passing situations.

    But on first downs and possibly 2nd down, those 4-3 ends in a base 3-4 are not dropping into coverage or taking a back out of the backfield like Miller was doing.

    I believe you have to draft to what your base defense is and then use players in sub packages. I can’t see drafting a 4-3 end in the first round to be a third down pass rusher.

    As for Spence, I think you may be right. I remember the 2014 draft when I was raving about a OLB from Buffalo who may be around when we pick. But after the senior bowl and combine, Kalil Mack ended up going 5th overall.

  15. By All Day on Feb 10, 2016 | Reply

    JTDG- If we got Jaylon Smith the draft would be a huge success the dude is a beast he’s fast and is a good tackler. I’ve watched him since he was a freshmen and I absolutely love the player. He’s got 4.4 speed

  16. By John The Draft Guy on Feb 11, 2016 | Reply

    All Day,

    There are 4 players who are NOT OLBs in a 3-4 who I love.

    Makenzie Alexander, Conner Cook, Eli Apple and yes, Jaylon Smith.

    Smith is a bigger version on DWash (and a cleaner version). Game changer. I would be thrilled to have him.

  17. By mitchaz on Feb 11, 2016 | Reply


    Tell us then what 34OLBers are there in this draft (picking at #29) who can double at DEs in the 4 man rush. You say “you just have to find them.”

    I would argue that a rush DE is more valuable than a 34OLB, especially when the defense is in a 4 man front 63% of the time. For example, who was more valuable to the Cardinals this year: OLB Alex Okafor or DE Dwight Freeney?

  18. By Scott H on Feb 11, 2016 | Reply

    Just wanted to point out SOMETHING pretty cool that happened during the last week ( while our team was losing the NFC title game and Kurt Warner did NOT get into the HOF again ) and that would be Anquan Boldin winning the NFL’s Man of The Year Award. That was great to see. He’ll always be a Cardinal to me. And for me, the change in fortunes that this team has experienced during the last decade started the day they drafted Boldin. This team needed a player like him SOOOO bad and I really think his character, toughness, and – of course – talent were the first building block in the foundation for the turn-around that followed.

    Even on a bad team like the 49ers, he still manages to rise above.

    Congrats to Q on his Man of The Year award. Excellent choice.

  19. By John The Draft Guy on Feb 11, 2016 | Reply


    First, let me say what I said on the next blog;

    You can go back to the 2007 draft, when we first started flirting with the 3-4 hybrid.

    That is 9 drafts. Nine. In the last 8 drafts We have only drafted one OLB in the first 3 rounds. Cody Brown.. This year, we took Marcus Golden.
    Passing on drafting Lamar Woodley, Anthony Spencer, Conner Barwin, Paul Kruger, Jerry Hughes, Robert Quinn (I believe could be OLB), Aldon Smith, Ryan Kerrigan, Justin Houston, Bruce Irvin, Melvin Ingram, Chandler Jones, Whitney Merciles, Oliver Vernon (who can play OLB), , Dee Ford, Demarcus Lawrence, Jeramiah Attaochu

    These 17 players all were drafted after the cards made their pick and all in the first 3 rounds, so no one is a surprise.

    Of the 17 players, 14 of the players recorded at least one year of double digits sacks. The 3 who didn’t are the 2014 group who are still rotating in.

    Going back in this blog, you will see several names I wanted to draft, This past year, I wanted to trade with Detroit one spot up doe Shane Ray. Denver jumped in the spot for a pair of 5’s

    So this year, we might need to look at a veteran. Noah Spence won’t be there. Or we could look at Leonard Floyd who could be a huge boom player. His speed off the edge is explosive. I want him to be stronger. He did have an injury, so maybe this off season, he improves his strength.

    It would be hard to turn down Jaylon Smith or Makenzie Alexander if they fell. For Floyd, I want to see workouts.

  20. By John The Draft Guy on Feb 11, 2016 | Reply


    One other thing, Freeney plays OLB for the cards, Chargers and his last year with Colts.

    And again, I watched Robert Mathis have his best year as an OLB for the colts. This is a 5th round pick who, as I said, and I believe you agree, is similar to my guy Eric Striker.

  21. By mitchaz on Feb 12, 2016 | Reply


    Freeney was a pass rushing RDE for us. He played in passing situations in our 4-5-2 nickel. That’s what we need most. 4 man front DEs. For example, as thin as we were at rush DEs—on Aaron Rodgers’ Hail Mary—who was playing RDE? It was Calais Campbell. And he took a poor inside angle which conceded any hope for contain and gave Rodgers and easy escape to his left. Now and you and I both know, Campbell is not a rush DE in a 4 man front—but out lack of options at that position beyond Freeney this year forced the coaches to try guy like Campbell, Josh Mauro and Kareem Martin, all of whom are too cumbersome and slow for that spot.

    However, I think you and i agree on OLB/DE Markus Golden. While he isn’t a blazer on the edge, his relentless effort and aggressiveness generates the kind of consistent pressure we need. So, in that sense I agree with you—if we can find rare players who can do both—seal the edge, tackle and cover in the 34 and rush the passer in the 452.

    While Golden is good on the left side—it takes someone a little quicker and faster to play the right side and that’s where it may be hard to find that kind of player in this draft. One guy I like a lot for the right side OLB/DE is Victor Ochi of Stony Brook. He’s a small school standout who played well at the East=West Shrine game. His transition to the NFL might take a little time, but the physical attributes appear to be there.

  22. By Chuck 1 on Feb 12, 2016 | Reply


    Another outstanding documentation of players who were available and passed on by Keim.
    I’m not confident that Keim will draft any better this year.

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