From February 22-February 28, coaches and scouts will gather for the NFL Scouting Combine held annually at the facilities of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. This year, 327 prospects will be given the opportunity to interview for a potential job in NFL. They'll be measured and have the chance to put their athletic prowess to the test. All 32 teams will closely eye these athletes to gauge their potential as they go through a number of drills and test their readiness inside the football classroom. Teams will want to know the ins and outs of their million-dollar investments and draft fans figure to pay a close eye as they continue to stack their board and fill out personal wish lists. With the newly added rookie pay scale, teams may very well begin to lay out the groundwork for deals they pull the trigger on this April. Rumors may begin to gain steam this week as to which road the top teams may drive down in a matter of months. Those who have followed this week before know the excitement of mere fractions of a second (and ultimate irrelevance in most cases); however, if this is your first time closely following the draft process, don't worry-here are the events on tap and what you can expect to extrapolate from the numbers.
Weigh-in: Nearly every player in Indianapolis will be measured for height, weight, arm length, and hand length. Scouts will be watching as the players stand shirtless and get their measurements. It will also give NFL personnel the opportunity to see whose carrying those extra pounds and who looks ready to play football. Separate from the weigh-in, players will also be medically examined and marked up for all prior injuries. This information will rarely leak out to the public, but can be pivotal in the decision-making process for General Managers and often the reason behind the seemingly catastrophic fall of some players on draft weekend.
40 Yard Dash: The 40 Yard Dash is the most hyped event at the Combine. Players run from point A to point B 40 yards away and are timed at intervals of 10, 20, and 40 yards. While the 40 time may get the glamour, look for the 10 and 20 yard times that test explosion and have more relevance at most positions. These splits often trickle out later.
Bench Press: Players lie on a bench and lift a 225 pound bar and barbell as many times as they can. It tests upper body strength and is most important for offensive and defensive linemen. Keep in mind that this isn't the ultimate strength test. Shorter armed players will have the opportunity here with less distance to extend the bar. Further, technique can help immensely, and in reality this is as good a test for preparation as it is strength.
Vertical Leap: Players stand flat-footed underneath plastic flags raised in the air and supported by a vertical bar. They jump with an extended hand to see how many flags they can displace. It tests vertical leg explosion and is most important for receivers and corners to see how well they can compete for jump balls at the next level.
Broad Jump: Players stand flat-footed and try to jump as far as they can, while landing with balance. This also tests leg strength and explosion. The broad jump is most important for running backs.
20 Yard Shuttle: Perhaps one of the most important tests at the Combine that goes widely unnoticed by fans. Players run in a straight line, 5 yards to the left, 10 to the right, then 5 to the left again. It tests lateral quickness and change of direction and is equally important for all positions.
3 Cone Drill: Cones are placed in the shape of an ÒLÓ and players are forced to run around them starting and ending at the same line. It tests explosion, change-of-direction, and body control. Like the 20 yard shuttle, this is also equally important for all positions.
60 Yard Shuttle: Also known as the long shuttle. It has the same format as the 20 yard shuttle, only longer. It's a better test for speed and endurance than the 20 yard shuttle or the 40 yard dash, but many tend to pass on this drill.
Interviews: Teams will have the opportunity to speak with up to 60 players at the Combine. The interview will allow teams to ask just about anything ranging from football knowledge, off-field issues, to family. Nothing is off limits. Numbers are nice, but this could be the most important aspect of the process for every player. A wrong response could cost them a chance at a job in April.
Position-specific Drills: As great as the numbers look on paper, most NFL scouting departments will weigh the position-specific drills even more. There's nothing like watching a player move through bags, change direction on command, and react to footballs in the air without losing balance.
The Wonderlic Test: The Wonderlic is similar to the IQ test in testing intelligence. Players have 12 minutes to answer 50 questions. Low scores for quarterbacks could spell disaster and have teams asking more rigorous questions in the classroom. If they can't handle this material, can they handle the volume of an NFL playbook?
Thursday, February 23:
Group 1(PK, ST, OL), Group 2 (OL), Group 3 (TE) - Measurements
Friday, February 24:
Group 4(QB, WR), Group 5 (QB, WR), Group 6 (RB) - Measurements
Saturday, February 25:
Group 7 (DL), Group 8 (DL), Group 9 (LB) - Measurements
Group 1, Group 2, Group 3 - Workout (timing, stations, skill drills)
Sunday, February 26:
Group 10 (DB), Group 11 (DB) - Measurements
Group 4, Group 5, Group 6 - Workout (timing, stations, skill drills)
Monday, February 27:
Group 7, Group 8, Group 9 - Workout (timing, stations, skill drills)
Tuesday, February 28:
Group 10, Group 11 - Workout (timing, stations, skill drills)
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