Penn State safety Troy Apke showed Monday that he’s one of the fastest players at his position and in his draft class in general, running a speedy 4.35 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.
While Apke’s 40 probably won him plenty of admirers among NFL scouts, no one was more impressed than NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders, who knows something about speed himself.
As Apke hit his stride during his first 40 sprint, Sanders exclaimed with unmistakable surprise in his voice, “Oh man, he can run.” Colleague Rich Eisen asked (in jest, we presume), “Why are you surprised, Deion,” to which Deion replied, “You know why I’m surprised. I can’t say it on TV, but he can run run.”
Sanders didn’t stop there. The eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback and first-ballot Hall of Famer then said, “You don’t see that much. Let’s call it what it is. I like that.” After learning Apke had run a 4.35, Deion announced he was going to hug the former high school sprinter, then proceeded to congratulate Apke and ask how to pronounce his name.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) March 5, 2018
Based on NFL scouting speak, you’d think it was Apke’s probably high football IQ and gritty determination that allowed him to run such an impressive 40 time. Or maybe, since this is a rare case, you could call him deceptively athletic.
We’re certainly won’t say that bias in NFL Draft scouting against white defensive backs is as severe or damaging as, say, bias against black quarterbacks, but clearly there’s a lot of stereotyping going around all around.
For example, Apke’s 4.35 40 time places him fifth among all NFL Draft prospects, yet his NFL.com scouting report (published before the Combine) refers to “decent straight-line speed.” That description sure seems to sell Apke a bit short, as Deion Sanders can now attest.