’Tis the season of the NFL Draft. Time to worship at the hairspray altar of Mel Kiper Jr., overindulge in mock drafts and debate the biggest seventh-round sleepers. More important, it’s time for fans of woebegone franchises to set their sights on landing the next savior—and avoid colossal busts [cf. Ryan Leaf, Tim Couch and most Detroit Lions picks over the past eight years].
Here at STACK, we’re having our own “Mach Draft” to determine the best NFL speed-training videos in our ever-expanding library. Read, digest, discuss and regurgitate the drills on the field or in the weight room to improve your stock.
Pick #1: “With the first selection of STACK’s inaugural Mach Draft, the writer selects Reggie Bush: Cone Touches With Resistance!”
Reggie, Reggie, Reggie. The Heisman-winning former Trojan burst onto the speed scene with an unofficial 40 time of 4.33 at his 2006 USC Pro Day.
Strengths: Cone Touches With Resistance has tremendous potential to increase a player’s body control and running form.
Weaknesses: Sorry, defenders, this drill is designed more for those who carry the rock.
Pick #2: Peyton Manning: Mini Hurdle Shuffle
Speed, thy name is…Manning? In a semi-shocker, Manning’s Mini Hurdle Shuffle drill goes off the board at No. 2 because, well, the guy is a three-time MVP.
Strengths: Peyton’s large physical stature doesn’t make him a statue in the pocket—he escapes the rush as well as any QB in the league. This drill improves lateral footwork to evade hulking defensive ends bearing down from any direction.
Weaknesses: Manning’s linear speed will never be confused for running-back quicks, but he’s slippery, and that’s indisputable.
Pick #3: Joe Thomas: Performing Agility Drills
Finally, some love for the big guys—the burly building blocks in the trenches who thanklessly protect the pretty boys. This All-Pro tackle has some of the best footwork for driving hulking D linemen off the ball or nimbly setting up for pass protection.
Strengths: This Agility Drill helps a lineman keep his weight distributed over his center of gravity and on the insides of his feet—a perfect body alignment for protecting the QB or pancaking opponents.
Weaknesses: Joe Thomas, at 6’6” and 305 lbs, is a glacier of a man who does not move at glacial speeds. Nope, no weaknesses with this drill.
Pick #4: Nnamdi Asomugha: Speed Ladder
The old cliché rings true: Offense wins games, defense wins championships and defensive backs are the most skilled players on and off the gridiron [or something like that]. Asomugha uses sneaky speed on the field to steal passes from opposing quarterbacks—that is, when QBs are brave enough to throw his way.
Strengths: Speed Ladder forces a player to use quick movements and avoid false steps, which can mean the difference between being the toast of the game and getting toasted by a receiver.
Weaknesses: Try saying “Nnamdi Asomugha Speed Ladder” fast, five times in a row, while performing the drill.
Pick #5: Ted Ginn Jr.: Explosive Starts
Recording 40 times that most athletes can’t match in 35 yards is one of Ginn’s gifts. The former Buckeye burner consistently clocked in the 4.3s during a 2007 pre-draft workout in front of NFL scouts.
Strengths: The 40-yard dash is all about mechanics [though freaky genes don’t hurt]. Explosive Starts teaches the proper body posture and technique to start the dash, which is a critical component for success.
Weaknesses: None, as this drill could motivate you to “start” taking out the trash, “start” doing your homework and “start” paying more attention to your lady friend [catch the theme?].
Pick #6: Jared Allen: Speed Rush
The Hillbilly of Havoc has registered 57.5 career sacks, thanks in large part to his deceptive quickness off the edge.
Strengths: Pull up an easel as one of the NFL’s premiere sack artists paints a picture of what it takes to brush by the tackle and varnish the QB.
Weaknesses: One word, two syllables: mullet.
Pick #7: Marques Colston: Sled Drags
Dogged by teams in the ’06 [real] draft, this seventh-round TE project is now a top-dog WR in the Saints’ dynamic offense.
Strengths: Sled Drags help maintain good arm swing and forward lean when running, while also adding weight for a challenge. Also, there’s great upside potential for creating explosion in the glutes.
Weaknesses: Tough guys beware: loading up the sled with too much weight can result in a glute injury that will require carrying a “donut pillow” to all of your classes.
Undrafted Free Advice
– Larry Fitzgerald: Improves Explosion and Speed
Not everything comes natural to this glue-fingered pass grabber—even the studs have to work on their speed.
– Bob Sanders: How Bob Sanders Got Fast
The hard-hitting safety discusses his path to quickness.
– Darren McFadden: Darren McFadden Interview
The former Razorback racer describes how he cut his shamefully “high 4.3 40 times” to more respectable “low 4.3 marks.”