With the football season over and the college all-star circuit complete, draft prospects as well as team personnel have turned their eyes to the NFL Combine. Many prospects will also host Pro Days, but the combine is the last large scale event of draft season.
The week-long showcase set to being on February 23rd stands as one of the final opportunities for prospects to improve their stock ahead of the draft itself. Hosted by the Indianapolis Colts on their home field at Lucas Oil Stadium, the combine will run until Monday March 2nd with over 300 players invited to participate.
NFL Combine: The Schedule
Players will arrive in Indianapolis on Sunday February 23rd to start a grueling slate of activities. Over the course of several days, these players interview with teams as well as participate in medical exams. In addition, they perform on-field workouts and psychological testing.
For the NFL Combine, prospects have been sorted into four different groups, each with staggered arrival and workout sessions. Group one consists of quarterbacks, tight ends and wide receivers. The second group features runnings backs, offensive line and special teamers, while group three consists of defensive linemen and linebackers. Group four features defensive backs.
Each grouping will have their team interviews, measurements, and position coach interviews, in addition to medical exams spread over the first three days of their time in Indianapolis. The following days hold much of the physical labor, such as the bench press and limited testing, as well as on-field workouts.
NFL Combine: The Workouts
The 40-yard dash is the headline workout at the NFL Combine. The dash measures speed and quickness. These athletes are timed at 10, 20 and 40-yard intervals. What the scouts are looking for is an explosion from a static start.
The bench press demonstrates a prospect’s strength and power. Athletes bench 225 pounds as many reps as possible. Scouts at the NFL Combine look for endurance here as well.
The broad jump is another demonstration of lower-body strength, as well as explosion. The athlete starts out with a stance balanced and then he explodes out as far as he can. It tests explosion and balance.
The 3-cone drill tests a draft prospect’s ability to change directions. With three cones arranged in an L-shape, the athlete starts from the starting line, and then goes 5-yards to the first cone and back. Then, he turns, runs around the second cone, runs a weave around the third cone, which is the high point of the L, changes directions, comes back around that second cone and finishes.
Some of the other workouts at the NFL Combine include the vertical jump, as well as various shuttle drills.
While the 40-yard dash might be the glamor event of the NFL Combine, the 10-yard Split might be the most important measurement. This number, taken during the first 10 yards of the 40-yard dash, demonstrates a more meaningful measure of “football speed” and short-area burst.
NFL Combine: Top Performers
NFL.com features results for every year at the NFL Combine since 2006. Over that span, some of the top performers at the event have helped their draft stock. While the workout metrics aren’t indicative of NFL success, the numbers remain impressive.
40-yard dash: 4.22 – WR John Ross, Washington (2017); 4.24 – RB Chris Johnson, East Carolina (2008).
10-yard Split: 1.45 WR D.K. Metcalf, Mississippi (2019); 1.50 WR Julio Jones, Alabama (2011).
Bench Press: 49 reps – DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State (2011); 45 reps – OL Mitch Petrus, Arkansas (2010).
Vertical Jump: 45.0 inches – WR Chris Conley, Georgia (2015); 45.0 CB Donald Washington, Ohio State (2009).
3-Cone Drill: 6.28 – CB Jordan Thomas, Oklahoma (2018); 6.42 – WR Jeffrey Maehl, Oregon (2011).
NFL Combine: The Players
The NFL Combine has invited 337 draft prospects to Indianapolis for the week-long showcase. This event aids these players in solidifying their draft stock.
While most of the players come from power conferences and Division I schools, there are a handful of small school prospects.
12 players from FCS schools stand among the 337 invited to participate. Among that dozen includes Senior Bowl standouts Kevin Davidson, QB, from Princeton; James Robinson, RB, Illinois State; as well as Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton. In addition, Senior Bowl defensive standout Dante Olson, LB, Montana, will also partake.