NFL Combine 101

NFL Combine: 101

With the NFL Combine workouts set to officially kick off today, I thought it would be a good idea to give a general overview of what the NFL Combine is and which drills help which positions. Most in the NFL put more weight on the interview session or in looking at the medical history of a player. If you believed NFL personnel, the on field tests meant nothing and it is only the fans and journalists who make a big deal out of the numbers. NFL executives love to talk up the players who busted after impressing in Combine workouts exclaiming that the NFL isn’t about guys working out in shorts. Which is true. Also true is that players now train for the drills during the two to three month window after college. With that said, film is the definitive factor but smart teams acknowledge that the NFL Combine workouts put some numbers to beliefs and allow scouts to get a bigger picture of a player.

The 40 Yard Dash

Largely a relic of the 1960s when punts measured forty yards in the air and special teams needed players who could cover that amount of ground quickly, this drill has become synonymous with the NFL Combine. After all, Al Davis loved speed and acquired it any way he could and that’s what this is all about. The drill it simple. Run forty yards in a straight line as fast as you can. The first ten yards, what is called the 10-Yard Split, has been a prominent way of measuring immediate explosion especially for positions that need a quick get off. Usually running backs, wide receivers, and defensive ends.

Positions To Watch: Late round prospects at RB, WR, CB, or S who will need to have key roles on special teams coverage and could boost their stocks with good times. ST Ace Matthew Slater of the New England Patriots ran a 4.44 fort yard dash and was selected in the 5th Round of the 2008 NFL Draft.

The Bench Press

Another simple drill. Players are required to press 225 pounds as much as possible. While this drill does not quite correlate with on field strength, it does give some indication as to whether a prospect may have been a “gym rat” and lifted weights often in college. One thing to point out is that players with longer arms tend to be penalized because they have to push the bar further away from their body. An offensive lineman who bench presses 32 times with 36″ arms may be more impressive than an offensive lineman who bench presses 38 times but only has 33″ arms.

Positions To Watch: Tight Ends, Offensive Guards, Centers, Defensive Tackles

The 20 Yard Short Shuttle

One of my favorite drills to watch is the 20 Yard Shuttle drill. This drill is all about lateral agility and is a great drill mainly for offensive linemen and defensive linemen in my opinion. It tests their knee bend by starting them in a three point stance and making them touch the ground, requires flexible hips to go from side to side laterally, and judges their burst through the line at the end. Green Bay Packers offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga recorded a 4.62 shuttle run and was selected 23rd overall in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Positions To Watch: Tight Ends, Offensive Tackles, Offensive Guards, Centers, Middle Linebackers, and Strong Safeties

The 3 Cone Drill

Manziel Runs 3 Cone Drill at NFL Combine
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Another favorite drill of mine. This drill is all about get off, dipping the shoulder around the cones, and maintaining acceleration as the body shifts balance. It’s a great drill to see a player’s ability to control his balance. Also flashing lateral agility in a tight space and “edge rush” ability by dipping the shoulder too.

Positions To Watch: Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, Defensive Ends, Outside Linebackers, Cornerbacks, and Free Safeties

The Vertical Jump and Broad Jump

This are also simple drills. Jump as high as you can in the Vertical Jump and jump as far as you can in the Broad Jump. Both drills help test a player’s lower body explosion which is key for needing to get momentum off the snap of the football. The Vertical Jump also showcases how a wide receiver or cornerback can high point a throw by the quarterback down the field. This drill can also give a fuller picture for linemen when tied to their bench press in terms of lower and upper body strength.

AJ Green Makes Leaping Catch
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Positions To Watch: Running Backs, Wide Receivers, Offensive Tackles, Offensive Guards, Centers, Defensive Ends, Defensive Tackles, Outside Linebackers, Cornerbacks, Free Safeties

I hope you have a better understanding of the NFL Combine and what the drills entail for specific positions. Enjoy the weekend and get ready for the 2016 NFL Draft!

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Written by David Hunter

David Hunter enjoys writing about wrestling, sports, music, and horror!

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