All eyes will turn to downtown Indianapolis as over three hundred of the most promising NFL prospects arrive on February 23 to participate in the NFL’s Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. This perennial event offers top executives, coaches, player personnel and medical staff from 32 NFL teams a chance to thoroughly screen and evaluate college football players who are eligible for the upcoming NFL Draft.
The first Combine ever was organized in Tampa, Florida as a football camp, in 1982; only then it was called the National Invitational Camp (NIC). It was held in held in New Orleans, Arizona and New Orleans before moving permanently to Indianapolis in 1987. For nearly a decade after its inception, the combine operated with little media attention. No cameras or media personnel were allowed access to the event. That changed in 1993 when NFL Films’ cameras began filming the combine goings-on. Since then, it has become one of few highlights in an otherwise uneventful off-season for football junkies everywhere. It is covered by the NFL Network and NFL.com.
Talk about job screening; the Scouting Combine is essentially a rigorous, 4-day interview and a necessary step toward realizing the dream of playing in the NFL. And with millions of dollars on the line, it is understandable that NFL teams want to know what they are committing to before signing a player. In addition to putting players through several measurable drills, teams will look at other aspects, both tangible and intangible to get a sense for the overall person. Things like character, work ethic and medical history are looked at.
A Rundown of the Measurable Drills:
The 40-yard dash is by far the most scrutinized event. The 40-yard dash is the NFL equivalent to the 100-meter dash in the Olympics. Teams are looking for maximum speed and explosiveness. Prospects are timed at 10, 20 and 40-yard intervals. A great 40-yard dash time can spark interest in a player who would otherwise have gone unnoticed. Indeed, it can be the difference in even getting drafted at all. All else equal, teams will go for the faster player.
The bench press is a measure of strength that tests how many times and athlete can lift 225 pounds, with an emphasis on overall endurance. A better conditioned athlete will tend to do higher reps versus his lesser conditioned peers. A good result in the bench press is an indication of workout ethic.
The vertical jump tests lower-body power and explosion. In this test, a baseline measurement is taken of the athlete’s reach while standing flat footed. The difference between the baseline and the highest flag touched at the apex of the vertical jump is what counts.
The broad jump is not only a test of lower body power and explosion, but balance as well. The athlete starts from an even stance and leaps as far forward as he can, landing in a balanced stance without moving further.
The 3 cone drill measures an athlete’s ability to run and shift directions. With three cones arranged in an L-shape, the athlete will run, turn back, weave and then change directions.
The shuttle run tests for lateral quickness and explosion in short areas, starting from a three-point stance.
Combine workout schedule:
- Saturday, Feb. 23: Tight ends, offensive linemen, special teams
- Sunday, Feb. 24: Quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers
- Monday, Feb. 25: Defensive linemen, linebackers
- Tuesday, Feb. 26: Defensive backs
- Lucas Oil Stadium, 500 S Capitol Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46225
- Tel. (317) 262-8600