Diminutive Ole Miss running back/receiver Dexter McCluster ran an extremely disappointing 4.58 forty-yard dash today. According to Daniel Jeremiah of the MoveTheSticks.com no one had him clocked at faster than a 4.57.
40 times rarely hurt a player significantly, but for a guy who measured in a 5’9″, 172 pounds, this is a huge blow to his stock.
Some skeptics argue that the 40-yard dash is irrelevant because football players rarely run 40 yards in a straight line. But if there’s one position where it definitely does matter its return specialists. Part of the intrigue to McCluster is his potential as a kick/punt returner, potentially in the mold of a Darren Sproles. But few, if any, elite return specialists were timed below 4.5 in the 40-yard dash at the combine.
To be fair, there’s no question that McCluster plays faster than his timed speed. His 40 time was comparable to Toby Gerhart, but no one would argue that Gerhart has the same game-speed as McCluster.
It will be interesting to see how McCluster rebounds at his pro day on March 23. A sub-4.5 time would certainly ease the concerns about his speed, but its difficult to imagine a drastic improvement. Even if he does show a improve, he’ll then have to answer question about why he wasn’t prepared for the combine.
Following his impressive performance in the Cotton Bowl, I had been saying that McCluster deserved to be a 2nd round pick. He was rated at No. 60 on our pre-combine big board.
Its safe to say we’ll be dropping him to a 3rd round grade after his performance at the combine.