NFL Draft 101: NFL Combine

The NFL combine is an opportunity for the potential draft prospects to workout in front of every NFL team.  The combine consists of both speed, strength and agility testing as well as interviews with NFL teams.  It is an invite only event and an opportunity for players to set themselves apart at the top of their position group.  There are several different tests that are conducted at the combine:

Wonderlic Test
Is used to test cognitive intelligence, if a player scores substantially lower than others, teams may want to re-evaluate whether the player will be able to digest and comprehend the NFL playbook.

40 Yard Dash
Tests the straight line and top end speed of players.  It also gives teams an objective way to compare the speed of players.  Typically these are the acceptable times for each position:

QB: This is one of the positions where speed is not relevant.
WR: 4.5s is good, 4.4s or better is elite
RB: 4.5s required
TE: 4.5s is good, sub 4.5s is elite
OL: Only the 1st 10 yards is really relevant.

CB: Sub 4.4s required, if above 4.4s – cover 2 corner
S: 4.5s required
LB: 4.6 is acceptable, 4.5s or better is elite
DE: 4.7 is acceptable, 4.6s or better is elite
DT: Only the 1st 10 yards is really relevant.

20 Yard Shuttle
Shows quickness and lateral change of direction ability.  If a player does not have elite top end speed, but has exceptional quickness that are more likely to be successful.

Anything below 4.3s is good, sub 4.2s is elite.

Vertical Jump
Tests explosiveness and power.  If a player test well in the 40 yard dash, that should translate to an impressive vertical jump.  Anything over 40 inches is impressive and notable, especially if the players is over 250lbs.  Anything below 35 inches is questionable and the power should be revisited to watch for explosiveness. DT and OL often do not have impressive verticals and that is okay.

Broad Jump
Similar to the vertical jump, this is a test of explosiveness and power.  Anything over 11 feet is an elite jump, showing explosiveness and burst.

Byron Jones holds both of the records for the broad jump and had a 44.5 inch vertical jump.
Here is the link to watch him break both records: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0UeHxglMJ4

225lb Bench
This is the test of strength, 225lbs on the bench press for reps.  This is typically more important for lineman, linebackers, and running backs, but is also a good indicator of whether the player has hit the weight room.  Lineman are expected to exceed 25 reps, while linebackers should hit 20 reps and running backs around 20 reps.

Overall, the combine is a good way to quantify exactly what you see on tape and determine how the player compares to other top athletes.  This is much more important for skill position players (other than QB), but not as important for those who play in the trenches.

 

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