Scout's Notes: The Value of the Combine Numbers For Each
Eric Galko, Special to Scout.com
The NFL Combine is THEE event that can make or break a prospects stock.
For the casual fan, we can comprehend the 40 yard sprint or the bench
press, mostly because we've likely run a "sprint race" or benched at
some point in our lives. We have some perspective how impressive (or
not impressive theses numbers are).
But in reality, they may be two of the lesser important numbers to look
at, while things like a prospects "10 yard split", broad jump, or
"3-Cone" drill could say drastically more about a prospect.
Here's what to watch out for at each position as the NFL Combine
10 (and 20) Yard Split
This might be one of the most telling and unfortunately most forgotten
numbers of the entire NFL Combine. While the 40 time is the "sexy"
time, only the running back/wide receiver position would ever run 40
yards straight, and even those two positions rarely get that 40 yard
space without contact. The 10 yard split shows the explosiveness off
the snap from a 3 point stance for the offensive/defensive lineman,
which is basically the only valuable part of the drill for those
positions. As for the position players, being able to quickly get to a
players top speed is crucial for receivers exploding to their first
cut, while defensive backs need that explosiveness after they flip
their hips and run.
40 Yard Time
The 40 time does have some merit in terms of value for all position.
Obviously for the position players, it's a testament to raw speed,
something that really is essential to play in the NFL and can not be
overlooked. However, for the other positions, you can get more out of
watching how these prospects actually run: Is it smooth? Is there
wasted motion? Do the prospects times drastically drop off after the 20
yard times? Those are really what to get out of the 40 time.
For all linemen, impressing the bench press is a must for the offensive
and defensive linemen, and an impressive showing for any other position
is notable because it shows dedication to the weight room as well as
raw power and strength. Also to keep in mind, prospects with longer
arms will generally do less because of the weight to push the farther
The vertical jump is the best indicator of lower body strength, and
it's a more practical football-related test of that lower body strength
than a squat is for the linemen and linebackers. While it also shows
the same lower body explosiveness for receivers and defensive backs,
it's an essential skill set that showcases in air ball skills and the
ability to get vertical.
As with most combine tests (as you've probably noticed), the broad jump
once again tests for explosiveness. Its standing still, only using legs
to drive you body forward in the air. The most important aspect of the
drill, however, is that the player needs to stick the landing with
balance for it to count. This explosion-to-balance combination is
crucial for pass rushers and bigger bodied receivers to control their
length/weight and balance while using their strength.
3 Cone/"L" Drill
The "L" drill is a test of two main aspects that are crucial for almost
any position: Change of direction without losing balance, and
continuing to accelerate through cuts/turns. The drill basically is a
five yard sprint, then a sharp cut right, followed by a five yard
sprint to the next perpendicular cone, where the runner loops around,
accelerate to the middle cone, and then cut back to the starting point.
This is beneficial to see how well a position player can cut without
wasted steps and without losing any burst, while also showing how a
pass rusher can stay low and balanced while staying smooth and powerful
in the rushes.
The short shuttle is simply exploding five yards to the right, then
explode ten yards back to the left, and finish back to the original
starting point. The lateral quickness aspect of the drill is obviously
important to positional players, showcasing balance and decisive steps
while utilizing their quickness. For the bigger linebackers and
linemen, it's more about the ability to not slow down but more just
plant and bend ability for these bigger athletes.
Eric Galko is a contributing NFL scout for Patriots Insider at
Eric Galko is the Owner, Director
of Scouting of Optimum
Scouting and lead editor for OptimumScouting.com. He
has been scouting college football for eight
years, and for pro teams and other sports professionals for the last
four years. Eric is also a member of the