The NFL Combine: Testing Your Potential

For 3 days in February each year, hundreds of the top college football players are invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Ind., where executives, coaches, and scouts from all 32 NFL teams conduct an intense, four-day job interview in advance of the NFL Draft. The ultimate question they hope to answer is this, “What is this guy’s potential as a player and, can he help our team win?”  Oh sure, they want to know the speed, strength, agility and skill level of each player but there is often more to the story than just their physical attributes. So how do you measure the real potential of an athlete?

NFL teams gamble with millions of dollars for the right guess. How do they best predict their return on investment? Unfortunately, we all know too well the cost of a player gone sideways; beating-up a girl friend, getting a second DUI, brawl in the bar, or simply an ego in the locker room that is a big distraction to the team.

I think you could predict costly mis-judged athletes with a simple “go-pro”camera device strapped to their forehead and new set of combine tests.
All you would need is one week of observation…

  1. Do you say “please” and “thank-you”?
  2. Do you show respect for your elders? (parents, mentors, senior citizens)
  3. Do you finish what you start? (or do you just ‘talk’ a big game?)
  4. Do you show chivalry toward women? (politeness, courtesy, morality, respect)
  5. Can your friends rely on you? (is your word your bond?)
  6. Do you have a personal growth plan? (Are you working on getting better?)
  7. What is your purpose?

Okay, enough of my silly testing, here’s what the NFL will test in Indianapolis…

1. Aptitude Test
The new aptitude test, called the NFL Player Assessment Test, will not replace the Wonderlic intelligence test but will be used as a complement to the test that has been traditionally used. This new test measures a wide range of competencies, including learning styles, motivation, decision-making skills, responding to pressure or unexpected stimuli, and core intellect.

2. 40-yard dash
The 40-yard dash is the marquee event at the combine. It’s kind of like the 100-meters at the Olympics: It’s all about speed, explosion and watching skilled athletes run great times. These athletes are timed at 10, 20 and 40-yard intervals. What the scouts are looking for is an explosion from a static start.

3. Bench press
The bench press is a test of strength — 225 pounds, as many reps as the athlete can get. What the NFL scouts are also looking for is endurance. Anybody can do a max one time, but what the bench press tells the pro scouts is how often the athlete frequented his college weight room for the last 3-5 years.

4. Vertical jump
The vertical jump is all about lower-body explosion and power. The athlete stands flat-footed and they measure his reach. It is important to accurately measure the reach, because the differential between the reach and the flag the athlete touches is his vertical jump measurement.

5. Broad jump
The broad jump is like being in gym class back in junior high school. Basically, it is testing an athlete’s lower-body explosion and lower-body strength. The athlete starts out with a stance balanced and then he explodes out as far as he can. It tests explosion and balance, because he has to land without moving.

6. Three cone drill
The 3 cone drill tests an athlete’s ability to change directions at a high speed. Three cones in an L-shape. He starts from the starting line, goes 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.

7. Shuttle run
The short shuttle is the first of the cone drills. It is known as the 5-10-5. What it tests is the athlete’s lateral quickness and explosion in short areas. The athlete starts in the three-point stance, explodse 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.

 

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