Slow 40 time might not hurt Jarvis Landry in draft

INDIANAPOLIS — Jarvis Landry didn’t head out to Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday intending to clock the slowest time in the 40-yard dash out of the 45 wide receivers who ran it at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine.

But he did, and countless observers couldn’t resist speculating precisely what effect that ignominious fact would have on the first- or second-round draft prospects with which the junior from LSU arrived.

Judging from conversations with a couple of NFL analysts and the former general manager of a team that won the Super Bowl, Landry shouldn’t slip too far down draft boards — at least not at the moment.

The film that scouts have already reviewed on Landry shows he’s a physical possession receiver who can make the perilous catches across the middle of the field, and he has a proven track record of hard-hitting play on special teams, they said.

However, there’s no denying Landry will need a good performance in the 40 at his school’s Pro Day if he wants to erase any doubts that may now exist due to his slow time in Indianapolis, which was blamed on a right hamstring injury he reportedly suffered during his sprint.

“It’d be hard for me to believe that’s his real time, having seen him play,” said Bill Polian, an ESPN analyst who is a former general manager of the Colts, winners of Super Bowl XLI. “That aside, it’s only important if he doesn’t come back and do a lot better at his Pro Day,” which for LSU is scheduled for April 9.

Landry came to the combine after leading LSU in receptions (77), receiving yards (1,193) and touchdown grabs (10) in 2013. He was No. 2 in the Southeastern Conference in receptions, third in receiving yards and tied for No. 3 in scoring catches to merit second-team all-conference honors. Pundits tabbed him to go in the late first or early second round.

Then, on Sunday, Landry put up an official 40 time of 4.77.

No one anticipated the 5-foot-11, 205-pound Landry to emerge from the combine as a speedster in the mold of his teammate and close friend, Odell Beckham Jr., who turned in an excellent 40 time of 4.43 seconds.

But neither did anyone expect Landry would run 40 yards slower than the 306-pound Terron Armstead did at the 2013 combine. Armstead, now a tackle for the Saints, clocked a 4.71.

Fortunately for Landry, NFL teams are wary about putting “too much stock in terms of things (they) see here (from players) in shorts and T-shirts,” as Saints GM Mickey Loomis put it earlier in the week.

Teams don’t simply discard prospects who underperform in a drill. A situation such as Landry’s from Sunday instead prompts clubs’ area scouts and personnel departments to begin investigating why what they had seen on tape didn’t mirror what actually happened at the combine.

“If you get a number that doesn’t stack up — you think a guy should run a 4.4 and he runs a 4.6 — you’ve got to figure out why,” ESPN draft expert Todd McShay said. “In the big picture, I think the tape is 80 percent” of what teams use to evaluate a draft prospect’s value.

Yet Landry and his supporters must realize his upcoming Pro Day is crucial to his pro aspirations, which paradoxically is not a bad thing.

As Polian explained, when he was a GM and often spoke to combine invitees, he’d advise them to run in Indianapolis. A good showing would relieve some of the pressure of Pro Day, when NFL hopefuls work out at their university in front of league talent evaluators.

Conversely, in the event of a poor outing at the combine, they’d afford themselves another opportunity.

“If you don’t do well at the combine, yeah, the pressure is on; but you still have an opportunity to rectify it at Pro Day,” Polian said. “A 4.77 is not going to cut it, but I am presuming Jarvis is going to do better at his Pro Day.”

Doing so would ensure Landry is taken in the draft closer to where he and most who’ve watched him play feel he should.

“I’m going to play special teams, I’m (hard to bring down) across the middle,” he said during his meeting with the media on Saturday. “I’m going to block linebackers, safeties ... (and do) just the little things that people forget.”