Every year over 300 of the best college football players in the country are invited by the National Football League (NFL) to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis Indiana. Why? Millions of dollars are at stake for the teams and players in salary, bonus’ , endorsements, winnings, appearances and more.
There the athletes showcase their athletic skills and abilities to NFL top executives, coaching staffs, player personnel departments and medical personnel from all 32 NFL teams prior to NFL draft. So why is this necessary when teams have already seen these athletes play game after game either live on Saturdays or on TV?
The answer is simple, the NFL places great value on the fundamentals of a true athlete. No matter how often a scout has seen an athlete play the game live or on the screen, the NFL needs to evaluate an athlete’s raw ability in speed exercises, strength training workouts and speed and agility drills. In other words, the yards run, the passes caught, the touchdowns scored are not a factor at the combine. It’s all about measuring how fast, agile, strong and explosive the prospect is – athleticism. The following are the actual drills used at the NFL Combine to judge potential draft picks.
This is the main event. Teams look for explosiveness and speed from a dead start. The athletes are timed at 10, 20 and 40-yard intervals. One of the most important speed exercises.
Every athlete is given the weight of 225 pounds to bench press. The objective is to see how many times he can bench press this weight, which is called repetitions, or reps for short. The repetition factor measures the athletes endurance. This also tells a lot about the work ethic of the athlete in college and whether he attended strength training workouts.
The vertical jump starts with the athlete standing flat-footed while his reach is measured. The athlete then is told to jump and touch a the highest point he can, which is a flag in the series of flags above him. The difference in the standing reach and the flag is the vertical jump measurement. This exercise evaluates the lower-body explosion and power .
The broad jump tests the athlete’s lower-body explosion, lower-body strength and balance. From a starting point, the athlete stands balanced . He then jumps out as far as he can while sticking the landing.
3 Cone Drill
The 3 cone drill tests an athlete’s speed and agility. It measures ability to change directions at a high speed. From a starting line, three cones are place in an L-shape. The athlete runs 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.
Remember the suicide drills in PE? The shuttle begins with the athlete starting in a three-point stance and exploding out 5 yards to his right, touches the line, goes back 10 yards to his left, left hand touches the line, pivot, and he turns 5 more yards and finishes.
Now Its Your Turn
The NFL, through research and experience has put together drills and exercises it uses to evaluate potential million dollar athletes. If you are a serious athlete, or just someone who wants to be a better athlete, practice the speed and agility exercises above and who knows, and maybe someday you too will be invited to the combine.
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