NFL Combine: What to Expect

The NFL Scouting Combine (Main Events) is this Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

» Friday, Feb. 26: RB, OL, ST
» Saturday, Feb. 27: QB, WR, TE
» Sunday, Feb. 28: DL, LB
» Monday, Feb. 29: DB

The NFL Combine is an opportunity for all of the teams to get a closer look at NFL prospects.  The benefit of the combine is that it provides an objective, relative comparison of pro prospects at each position.  Teams will be able to uncheck or check off another box for players, questions about objective speed, quickness, mental composition, and competitiveness will be answered.  Players at each position will go through the exact same drills:

  • Benchpress (225lbs for reps)
  • 40 Yard Dash
  • Vertical Jump
  • Broad Jump
  • 20 Yard Shuttle
  • 60 Yard Shuttle
  • 3 Cone Drill
  • Positional Drills (On-Field)

These tests and drills are designed to test players speed, quickness, strength, agility and flexibility (movement) skills.

Benchpress is used to test strength and work ethic.  Players that significantly underperform, will have to answer questions about work ethic and time spend in the gym.  Players who meet the position specific standards of each team will receive a check mark.


  1. Defensive Line – 30+ Reps
  2. Linebacker – 20+ Reps
  3. Running Back – 20+ Reps
  4. Tight End – 20+ Reps
  5. Wide Receiver – N.A. (Does not have a positional impact)
  6. Safety – 20+ Reps
  7. Corner – N.A. (Does not have a positional impact)

The 40 Yard Dash is a drill that is used to test long-speed.  This is important for skill position players, in particular wide receivers and defensive backs.  This is one of the drills that can cause significant rise and fall in a prospects draft position.  The fastest player typically doesn’t get selected later than the third round of the draft.  Wide receivers are expected to run 4.5s or faster, anytime slower than 4.5s will bring up questions about the prospect.  Running backs are expected to run 4.6s or better, typically the range is 4.4-4.6s as very few running backs with the ability to be durable ever run faster than 4.4s.  Defensive backs are broken down into cornerbacks and safeties.  Corners are expected to run sub 4.5s and safeties are expected to run sub 4.7s.

40 time


  1. Defensive End –  Sub 4.9s
  2. Linebacker – Sub 4.7s
  3. Running Back – Sub 4.7s
  4. Tight End – Sub 4.8s
  5. Wide Receiver – Sub 4.6s
  6. Safety – Sub 4.7s
  7. Corner – Sub 4.5s

Vertical jump and broad jump are used to text explosiveness.  Explosiveness is not the same as speed, explosiveness translates into burst, power and acceleration.  Players can be explosive, while not having great long speed.  This is very important for all positions across the field, in particular it is especially important for running backs, defensive ends/outside linebackers and defensive backs.  These are all positions that requires elite acceleration or power.

broad jump

Standards: Vertical Jump / Broad Jump

  1. Defensive End –  35″+
  2. Linebacker – 30″+
  3. Running Back – 35″+
  4. Tight End – 25″+
  5. Wide Receiver – 35″+
  6. Safety – 30″+
  7. Corner – 35″+

20 Yard Shuttle and 3 Cone Drill are all drills that test lateral quickness and agility.  The 20 yard shuttle is a very important drill for skill position players, running backs, wide receivers.  Elite prospects at these positions will need to have the ability to change direction laterally as well shift their weight in order to make defenders miss in the open field.  The 3 cone drill is one of the drills that best translates to performance in pads from an athleticism perspective.  This drill test the ability to players to get around the edge of offensive tackles, stop and start acceleration, and the ability to change direction while maintaining speed.

short shuttle

Standards: 20 Yard Shuttle / 3 Cone Drill

  1. DDefensive End – Sub 4.5s/ Sub 7.3s
  2. Linebacker – Sub 4.4s/ Sub 7s
  3. Running Back – Sub 4.3s/ Sub 7s
  4. Tight End – Sub 4.7s/ Sub 7.1s
  5. Wide Receiver – Sub 4.3s/ Sub 6.9s
  6. Safety – Sub 4.3s/ Sub 7s
  7. Corner – Sub 4.1s/ Sub 6.8s

The NFL combine is an opportunity to relatively unknown players to make an impression and for top prospects to cement their positions.  However, even the players that make an impression are not guaranteed to boost their draft stock.  Teams will be forced to take a look at their film again to see if the testing translates to production on the field.  You will also notice that I have excluded offensive tackles and most of the drills for defensive tackles, this is because the positional drills carry the most weight for these positions.  No pun intended.  Quarterback is another position, where the positional drills are the only things that matter as teams want to see how they can throw the ball.

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