Football isn’t over. The 2011 playing season is behind us, but it is now time to focus on building for the next season. We have the NFL Scouting Combine, college pro days and free agency all before we even get to the NFL’s big spring event – NFL Draft. Hello… 2012!
Now the NFL league year does not officially start until March 12 the day that the new salary cap is set, but front offices are already having conversations about their 2012 rosters and who should be on them. NFL personnel will head to Indianapolis this week for the annual combine at Lucas Oil Stadium from February 22 – 28.
Only 300 players will be at the combine. I describe the weeklong 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.
Here are the physical drills that players will participate in.
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.
A few players to watch at the combine are Andrew Luck (Stanford, QB), Robert Griffin III (Baylor, QB and 2011 Heisman winner), Justin Blackmon (Oklahoma State, receiver) and Matt Kalil (Southern California, left offensive tackle).
When someone brings up a wide receiver or running back entering the draft, ask them how they think that player will do in “the 40” at the combine. Otherwise, you can start the conversation by asking, “Who do you think will have the fastest 40 this year?” Now if the talk about is about linemen, switch it up and ask about the bench press.
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