As the 2022 NFL Combine begins, NFL teams will evaluate 324 potential draft picks in various drills and workouts. These drills are designed to test each player’s athletic abilities and determine how their measurables match what shows up on tape during games.
The 40-yard dash is the most popular NFL Combine drill as it measures speed. Wide receivers and defensive backs need to have a solid 40 time to be considered top prospects. A fast receiver is more likely to get behind the defense, and corners need the speed to keep up with them. In addition to 40 times, teams pay attention to 10-yard splits to see how quickly a player can accelerate and be explosive off the ball.
The bench press tests functional, upper-body strength by having players lift a 225-pound barbell. Though it’s dwindling in importance, it still assesses the strength of offensive and defensive linemen as well as tight ends. Muscle mass, not arm length, is key to success on the bench press, so players with shorter arms don’t necessarily have an advantage.
The three-cone drill tests agility by having players run around three cones as quickly as possible. Players with quicker feet are often better route runners, and edge rusher prospects tend to do well because they can bend around each cone due to their experience against top offensive tackles.
The 20-yard shuttle showcases agility and explosiveness and is important for defensive players like cornerbacks and linebackers. These players have minimal time to react and change directions to attack the ball, making body control critical. It’s also essential for linebackers who frequently have to make split-second decisions about whether to stop the run or hang back in coverage.
The vertical jump is a popular drill among receivers, cornerbacks, and tight ends as it tells us which players can jump high enough to catch contested passes. It identifies lower body strength and explosiveness, making it essential for running backs and both offensive and defensive linemen. Running backs need to hit the hole with explosiveness, and linemen need to be quick and powerful off the snap.
The broad jump measures lower body strength and explosiveness and requires a certain amount of flexibility and balance, making it important for offensive linemen. NFL teams use this drill to separate the tackles from the interior linemen. Additionally, it’s a good measure of explosiveness for offensive playmakers like running backs and receivers who need power and flexibility to succeed.
In conclusion, the NFL Combine drills tell us a lot about potential draft prospects. While the on-field drills reveal how players run routes, block, and catch passes, the non-football athletic testing measurements give insight into each player’s athletic abilities. Each drill tests a different physical trait, and a good performance in a drill can indicate success in that area during games.
Featured Image Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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