The 40-yard dash tends to be the most-discussed event at football combines, and for good reason. The 40 doesn't tell you everything about how a player will do in the professional ranks, but it gives you an idea of their speed, and that's something general managers and coaches tend to prioritize. Thus, the highlight of Sunday's action at the CFL's E-Camp was likely Laurier receiver Shamawd Chambers blowing away the field with an impressive 4.42-second mark in the 40. It's a showing that should help Chambers' already-high stock, and it could help him be one of the first players off the board when May's draft roles around.
While the 40-yard-dash is far from a perfect gauge of how a player will perform in the pros, it provides a useful starting point to evaluate their speed. Some teams tend to give more credence to it than others, but there's little dispute that an impressive 40 time will generally boost a prospect's draft stock (particularly for wide receivers, defensive backs and running backs), while a subpar one can cause even top prospects to drop substantially. There are problems with the metric, as most football plays don't involve running 40 yards (and it doesn't evaluate the ability to quickly change directions, or the ability to alter speeds mid-route, or anything else), but it can be a useful base. For receivers, a strong 40 is particularly important, and some players (like Darrius Heyward-Bey, the seventh overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft who put up a 4.25 40 at the NFL combine) have been drafted more on their 40 than what they accomplished in college. Other prolific collegiate players have quickly dropped down draft boards after poor 40 times, so it's a crucial drill to succeed in.
Of course, Chambers didn't necessarily need a strong 40 to earn a high draft spot. He was second in the CFL Scouting Bureau's September rankings and fourth in the January ones, so he already had plenty of buzz, and his collegiate career was impressive as well. He put up 562 receiving yards and five touchdowns in seven games for the Golden Hawks in 2011, he starred for Canada at the IFAF World Championships last July, and Duane Forde listed him as a player to watch heading into E-Camp. With an impressive 40 under his belt and strong showings in many of the other metrics, the draft could be a great experience for Chambers. That's nice to see, as he's overcome an awful lot to get here, including the 2007 death of his brother Jonathan and the recent death of a high-school teammate and friend.
About the only thing likely to hurt Chambers' draft stock now would be NFL interest, and that can't be ruled out. He did participate in the Battle of Florida NCAA all-star game, which is always heavily scouted, and one of the perils for the CFL of prospects who put up impressive metrics at E-Camp is those tend to draw NFL teams more than CIS stats do. If NFL teams are sniffing around too much, Chambers may fall a bit in the CFL draft. Regardless of where he winds up, though, he looks like a guy who will be playing professional football somewhere in the near future, and his impressive 40 time Sunday will only help with that.
Other notable 40 times from Sunday:
—Muscular Laval linebacker Frédéric Plesius, sixth in those January rankings and also spotlighted by Forde, tied Harding University (a NCAA Div II school in Arkansas)'s Rene Stephan for the best 40 time by a linebacker with a 4.63.
—Keegan MacDougall, the Saskatchewan DB who won the broad jump and finished second in the vertical leap, posted a position-best 40 time of 4.52.
—Nathan Riva, the star running back from Western, posted the E-Camp's second-best 40 time with a 4.47. Queen's Ryan Granberg was second amongst RBs with a 4.61.
—SFU's Justin Capicciotti, who's had plenty of good results this weekend, led the defensive linemen with a 4.91.
—The second-quickest receiver behind Chambers was Sherbrooke's Ismael Bamba, who recorded a 4.54.
—Tyson Penser, the 6'8, 330-pound behemoth of an offensive lineman who played at Washington State and then played junior football, put up a position-best 5.19 40 and beat a lot of smaller linemen in the process. That mix of size and quickness could make him a high pick.