Anthony Schwartz is FAST. Not only did he run a 4.29 40 at the 2021 Combine, but the former track star also holds the world under-18 best in the 100 meters at 10.15 seconds. Even without a single pro game under his belt (yet), it’s safe to say Schwartz is one of the fastest players in the league.
While he’s currently prepping for his rookie season with Cleveland, the 2021 Draft Pick took a minute to chat with us about training for the Combine, the importance of the 40-yard dash, and the best ways to increase your explosiveness and cut down your times.
Q: Were there any differences when you were practicing getting off the line as quickly as possible in track vs. for the 40 yard dash?
A: For the 40, you have to be a little more explosive because you don’t have those hundred meters to make up. The 40 is more about getting out and digging back and digging out.
Q: What is something vitally important to running a good 40 time that the casual observer might not think of?
A: I would say it would have to be arms, because your legs can only move as fast as your arms are pumping. So you have to keep your arms going and keep them pumping in order to keep your legs moving fast. They also help you in the start, too. Explosive arms help you get off to an explosive start.
Q: What is another test at the Combine that could boost a receiver’s stock?
A: I would say the 5-10-5 shuttle drill because it shows your short-range agility. It also helps you follow directions, because you have to touch the line and if you don’t, it shows you aren’t good at following directions. It’s more mental than physical, but it’s still very physical and can help a receiver up their stock.
Q: Do you think that the 40-yard dash is still a useful test to measure someone’s speed on the football field or do you think it’s a little outdated?
A: I think for skill positions it’s still helpful. Really the most important part is the ten-yard split, but it shows that you’re able to maintain that speed, and having them run it again shows that they’re able to do it consistently. But I think lineman should only run 10 or 15 yards because if they’re running more than 10 or 15 yards in a game-time situation, then their job is done.
Q: How much focus is there on running a good 40 time versus prepping and focusing on the other Combine drills?
A: There’s more focus on the 40 because that’s kind of the make or break for some people. Some people wanna run a fast 40 because they need to, others just have to maintain their 40, so the 40 is really the most important thing. The other drills just kinda fall in because they’re not really looking to that as much as they’re looking at the 40.
Q: Do you ever think we will see someone run a sub 4-second 40?
A: I think it could be possible, but I don’t think it would be by a football player. I think it would have to be a track runner or something.
Q: What are some of the best workouts you do to increase your acceleration?
A: I like doing sled pulls. You know, tying a sled around your waist and running with it. It helps make your starts more powerful and it also helps with endurance and being able to keep your speed up.
Q: Were there any other workouts you were doing to prep for the 40?
A: I was really focused on my start because I had the end of the race down. I wanted to get my start better and have it be more explosive.
Q: What are some common exercises that athletes do to improve their speed that don’t actually help that much?
A: I would say some stuff in the weight room that people do doesn’t work at all. The weight room will get you more powerful but it’s not going to get you faster. You have to be out on the field running. You have to be out on the track running. And it’s something that comes with time. People think it’s a short-term thing, but you’re never going to be out on the track one weekend and be that much faster. It’s a grind, something you have to buy into.
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Want more advice from the pros? We’ve got you covered. Here are the Five Tools You Need To Make It In The League, straight from some of the top players.
Corner Mike Hughes may now be one of the top players at his position in the 2018 rookie class, but his road to pro football has been anything but easy.
An all-state high school player in New Bern, North Carolina, Hughes made the decision to stay close to home for college ball and suited up for North Carolina during his freshman year. But his promising career in Chapel Hill was cut short when he got suspended for an incident at a frat house and ended up leaving the team. In 2016, he wound up playing for Garden City Community College at the junior college level. His outstanding play quickly caught the attention of University of Central Florida coach Scott Frost who recruited him to play for his squad in 2017.
And the rest is history – the corner helped lead UCF to an undefeated record, and, to some, stake a claim as the real national champs. On an individual level, Hughes received first-team conference honors as a defensive back and second-team honors as a returner. All the change he experienced in college didn’t slow him down – it helped him grow as a player and as a person.
“When I left UNC, I kind of had to take a step back,” Hughes said. “That taught me to never take anything for granted. It made me work even harder, and I appreciated everyone who was there with me during the struggle. Going to UCF was probably the best decision I’ve ever made, and it’s just a blessing to be in this position.”
Whoever drafts Hughes is getting more than just a corner, they’re getting a true special teams ace, as well.
“I’d say my favorite memory in college was my kick return for a touchdown against USF for the win,” he said. “That was probably one of the biggest football moments of my life.”
Pro football’s biggest scouting event is an opportunity for 336 athletes to showcase their skills in an audition for a spot on a pro team’s roster. Tanner Carew is in a league of his own, however. That’s because he’s the only long snapper that received an invite to this year’s event.
You may be wondering how someone becomes so good at such a specialized position. We were, too. So we asked him. As it turns out, Carew got his start in long snapping in a pretty normal way.
“I was just the center for the team in 5th grade and they were like, ‘Hey, can you long snap, too?’” Carew said.
He started practicing a little bit and soon became the team’s long snapper. Carew continued to get better and better every year. He even began to participate in special training and camps for long snappers to hone his craft. Carew became the nation’s best long snapping recruit and got invited to the U.S. Army All-American Game.
Carew played college football at Oregon, where his speed and accuracy as a long snapper began to draw attention from pro scouts. He delivered all 146 snaps accurately as a sophomore and all 134 snaps as a junior.
The long snapper even racked up a few tackles and downed a punt inside the 5-yard line during his career. The secret to his success? It’s the same as any other football player’s.
“Just keep working hard,” Carew said. “The key is to just stay consistent.”
Kickers and punters get most of the glory when it comes to the specialist group, but Carew is the one who starts the whole process. An inaccurate snap can throw off everything, resulting in shanked kicks.
He snapped about 200 snaps to punters and kickers in front of scouts at this week, in addition to running the 40-yard dash and other drills. As the best long snapper in the nation, Carew will likely find himself in the league next year, and is thought by many experts to be a mid-to-late-round draft pick, which is rare for the position.
No matter how it happens or where he lands, Carew is confident that he’ll be snapping for a long time to come.
“Being here in Indy shows I’m doing something right, but there’s more to be done,” Carew said. “I have so much more to work on. I’m not even close to being done.”
Thanks to Tanner Carew for his time and make sure to check out the Eastbay Blog for more exclusive stories on the biggest names of the 2018 rookie class.
A popular trend in football seems to be that fewer and fewer defensive backs like delivering big hits. Well then, consider safety Ronnie Harrison old-school – he was even itching for contact during his scouting workouts.
“Yeah, I definitely wish these drills were more physical,” he said. “All this running and jumping, that’s not real football. I want to get some of these guys in pads and see what they can really do.”
Harrison’s play style is as aggressive as it gets on the gridiron, and when you tack on his considerable size, speed, and range, he was truly a beast unleashed during his three years patrolling the back end of Alabama’s defense. He should be picked pretty early during this year’s draft, and he’s sure to make one team very happy and 31 other offenses very nervous.
We got a chance to do a round of rapid-fire questions with the playmaking safety before he hits the pro game. Check it out below:
Q: What’s The Toughest Workout You’ve Done Recently?
A: “I worked with Tony Villani – he has a workout he calls the SHREDmill. It was hard, but it helped with my speed.
Q: Would You Rather Match Up Against A Bigger Or Smaller WR?
A: “I feel like I can cover either one. But I would probably match up better against bigger WRs because of my own size.
Q: Which WR Can You Not Wait To Face In The Pros?
A: “Probably Julio Jones since he played at Alabama, too.”
Q: Which Pro Has Given You The Best Advice?
A: “I talk to Ha Ha (Clinton-Dix) a lot. He’s like my big brother.”
Q: Which Player Does Your Game Most Compare To?
A: “Sean Taylor.”
Q: Speak Directly To The Fans Of The Team That Drafts You – What Type Of Player Are They Getting?
A: “They’re getting a leader. I’m going to bring that passion and that attitude. I’m selfless and offer a lot of versatility and I love the game of football.”
Thanks to Ronnie Harrison for his time and make sure to check out the Eastbay Blog for more exclusive stories on the biggest names of the 2018 rookie class.
Iowa’s James Daniels is one of the top centers in… Wait, let’s try that again. Iowa’s James Daniels is one of the top guards in the 2018 rookie class. Or should it be tackle? It’s hard to tell what position to call him yet, but no matter where he winds up playing, the versatile offensive lineman is a major name to watch during this year’s draft.
Daniels started two games at guard during his 2015 freshman season before switching over to center for his remaining two seasons. He excelled at both positions, and with his impressive athleticism and length, a possible move to tackle isn’t off the table at the next level either.
How has he been able to be so versatile? “I feel like I have two things that really help me: I’m smart and athletic,” Daniels explained. “You need to be smart so you can learn each position and switch over when something happens, and you need to be athletic so that you don’t have to worry about being beat on the edge.”
The Iowa football program also played a big role in Daniels’ ability to develop – just look at all the lineman talent they’ve produced for the pro game over the last few years. “(Head) Coach Ferenz and (Strength and Conditioning) Coach Doyle are the biggest reason for that,” he said. “It’s a developmental program, so we take guys who may not be ready to play right away and grow them into the best players that they can become.”
And as Daniels preps for his own shot at the next level, he’ll have two excellent role models to give him advice.
“My dad played football at Ohio State and in the pros, so when I was young, he introduced me to the sport and taught me a lot of life lessons. And my brother (LeShun Daniels Jr.) is two years older than me. He’s my best friend and we would play a lot of backyard football together. He’s in the pros now too and his journey – he got cut, picked up, cut again – really made me look at is work ethic and appreciate it.”
So he’s got the family pedigree, but Daniels is also his own player. And whether he is asked to be a center, guard, tackle, or, heck, even tight end in the pros, it’s clear he has everything he needs to be successful.
Thanks to James Daniels for his time and make sure to check out the Eastbay Blog for more exclusive stories on the biggest names of the 2018 rookie class.