Understanding the NFL Combine

Understanding the NFL Combine

Hey sports fans- here is a breakdown of the combine.  If you follow ESPN, I am sure you have been hearing the word combine.  Most people are only familiar with the NFL combine  - where prospective athletes showcase their physical skills with hopes of being positioned well in the draft. The performance of these athletes can dictate their specific draft position, salaries and ultimately their entire career.  The NFL Combine is an INVITE ONLY, week-long event every February at Lucas Oil Stadium (and formerly at the RCA Dome until 2008) in Indianapolis, where college players perform physical and mental tests in front of NFL coaches, general managers, and scouts.  In many ways a combine provides an ATHLETIC IQ.

History of the Combine:

Prior to 1982, each individual team sent invitations to selected individuals to test privately in front of the owners and coaching staff.  The first NFL Combine was introduced in Tampa Bay in 1982 as the “National Invitation Camp”.  It was originally designed to become a member organization for teams to join in order to participate in.  There were non-member events as well with both events merging together permanently in 1987.

Physical Tests and Evaluations:

40 Yard Dash-  This test measures an athlete’s overall speed.  Originally designed for traditional skill positions like running back and wide receiver.  But today, the 40 is now considered one of the most important and heavily weighted events for all positions.

The Bench Press-  This test measures overall strength and endurance of the upper body.  Athletes are asked to perform the maximum number of repetitions at 225 pounds.  The combine record was set by Justin Ernest in 1999, when he performed 51 consecutive reps.

The Vertical Jump-  This test measures how high an athlete can jump from a standing position.  Most commonly measured for performance in sports like, football, track and field, volleyball and basketball.  Gerald Sensabaugh holds the current record of 46” set in 2005.

The Broad Jump-  This test is also referred to as the standing long jump.   The broad jump measures how far an athlete can jump forward without falling down or losing their balance.  Byron Jones holds the current record of 12’3” set in 2015.

The 20 Yard Shuttle-  This test evaluates the quickness of an athlete and their ability to change-of-direction.  They start in the middle of a 10-yard distance with one hand touching the ground. The athlete then pushes off their dominant leg in the opposite direction for 5 yards. Then they reverse and go 10 yards in the opposite direction. Finally, they reverse direction again, ending the drill at the starting point.  It is the constant change in direction is also offers a highly relevant movement for football (as well as many other sports). In 2001, Kevin set the record with 3.73 seconds.

The 3 Cone Drill- This is another test to evaluate the agility, quickness and fluidity of an athlete’s movement.  Three cones are placed five yards apart from each other forming a right angle. The athlete starts with one hand down on the ground and runs to the middle cone and touches it. The athlete then reverses direction back to the starting cone and touches it. The athlete reverses direction again, but this time runs around the outside of the middle cone on their way back to the far cone -  running around it in a figure eight fashion on his way back around the outside of the middle cone and finally finishing back at the starting cone.  Jeff Maehl in 2011 set the record with a time of 6.42 seconds.

The 60 Yard Shuttle- The 60-yard shuttle is an agility drill, but it's also a drill that requires a certain amount of stamina.  The current record is held by Brandin Cooks with a time of 10.72 seconds in 2014.

Mental Tests and Evaluations:

  1. 15 minute interview with individual teams, coaches and general managers.  Each NFL Team is allotted up to 60 interviews
  2. Drug screening
  3. Injury screening- Evaluated by team doctors to determine prior injuries and overall health.
  4. The Cybex Test-  The Cybex Test is a fitness examination that tests the joint movement of the athlete.
  5. The Wonderlic Test- This test measures the cognitive abilities, problem solving abilities and overall health of an athletes neuro-functioning.

Here are the results for the 2016 NFL Combine.

Fastest 50 yard dashes.

Best Wonderlic Test scores.

If you have a young athlete that wants to work on building their athletic abilities reach out to the Parisi Speed School.  They have 90 location in the US and offer combine training for kids.

CO-written by Brennan Cox

Program Director for Parisi Chicago

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