Yes, we have our Super Bowl champs, but the conversation about professional football is not over; It is just getting started. This is the time of the year when NFL teams start planning for the upcoming season. The office chatter turns from what their teams did on Sunday to what their teams need to do to improve for next season. A big part of this is who they think their teams should select in the NFL Draft.
Before we get to the draft, we have to talk about the NFL Scouting Combine, referred to simply as “The Combine.” It is the annual job fair for prospective NFL players. This year it takes place from February 24 – March 1. I describe the week-long process as an intense, invitation-only interview for the best college football players to get a job in the NFL. Over 600 NFL personnel will analyze prospective NFL players as they participate in physical and psychological exams, interviews, tests and drills. The athletes work hard to show all of the coaches, general managers and scouts from all 32 NFL teams that they are tough enough mentally and physically to handle a job in the NFL.
I am sure that you have exciting plans this evening, so I will not go into the details of the top players today. I am just going to explain the drills that are conducted at the combine.
1. 40-yard Dash – Known as “the 40,” this is the most popular event at the Combine. Players are timed running 40 yards. Like track sprinting events, this drill is all about speed.
2. Bench Press – This test is for strength and endurance. Players bench 225 pounds as many reps as they can. This will show who really spent time in the weight room in college.
3. Vertical Jump – Players stand straight up and stretch their hand to the sky. The measurement of this point is the reach. The player then jumps to hit a flag. He must jump without running or rocking. The difference between the reach and the flag is the measurement for “the vertical.” This will show scouts the strength of the lower body.
4. Broad Jump – This is like a long jump without running. Players stand and jump frontward as far as they can. This is not only about the distance. The key is landing and not falling. Scouts are looking for good balance.
5. 3 Cone Drill – Players run around 3 cones in an L shape and back. This is to test an athlete's ability to change directions at a high speed.
6. 5-10-5 – The actual name is the Shuttle Run. Basically the player has to run 5 yards to his right and touch the yard line, run 10 yards to his left and touch the yard line, then run a final 5 yards to the right to finish.
If anyone brings up a college player entering the draft, you can ask them how they think that player will do in “the 40.” Otherwise, you can start the conversation by asking, “Who do you think will have the fastest 40 this year?” For comparisons, review the highlights from the 2010 NFL Combine.
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