With little more than a week to the scouting combine, young players looking to enter the NFL are preparing for one of the biggest performances of their careers. The NFL Combine, along with other events, is a series of 7 drills designed to test an athlete's speed, agility, coordination, strength, and explosiveness. All players do the same drills; wide receivers must do the bench press while 300 pound offensive linemen do the 20 yard shuttle.
I thought I would run through the drills and their importance here even though much of the same information can be found on the NFL's combine site.
40 Yard Dash - The importance of this is fairly obvious - it tests speed. However, the combine doesn't just time an athlete's 40 yard time; they time at 10, 20, and 40 yards. It's a test of how quickly the explode off the line and how quickly they reach top speed.
Bench Press - Participants raise a 225 pound bar as many times as they can manage. It's a test of strength, pure and simple.
Vertical Jump - Participants stand flat-footed and try to swat as many plastic flags on a pole as they can. This drill tests vertical leap capabilities, quickness, and explosiveness.
Broad Jump - This jump is done from a standing position and the players jump forward as far as they can manage. This exercise, along with the vertical jump, give scouts a great idea of a players explosiveness and power. The broad jump has been done for a long time, so teams can compare these results to previous players and get a picture of how a young athlete may fare.
3 Cone Drill - This is a drill designed to test a player's ability to bend, pivot, and shift body weight. This is a classic receiver or defensive back series of movement where the ability to to shift and change direction is tested.
20-Yard Shuttle - Players run 5 yards in one direction, change direction and run 10 yards, change direction again and run 5 yards to end up where they started. According to nfl.com, this drill tests a player's ability to drop low and accelerate.
60-Yard Shuttle - This drill is 5, 10, 15, 20, 10 yard shuttles, changing direction after each shuttle.
Doing well on these drills can ultimately affect where a player gets drafted and, to some extent, their payday. Players will train for months before the combine in order to improve their chances of doing well. After all, it's the difference between a great start and a mediocre start. However, you just never know. Remember our boy Tom? Ouch...