The NFL Scouting Combine begins today with the day one arrivals, and kicks off in earnest tomorrow with the first phase of testing and interviewing. From the schedule the NFL has provided (after the jump), it looks like we won't be getting workout timing drills and all that until Saturday, but some of the things to keep an eye on before that are the media interviews and player measurement segments. The press interviews can actually provide some entertainment - last year everyone was all over Ryan Mallett for 'storming off the stage' (he actually just said "thanks guys" and walked away, but such is the media).
Key to the Seahawks is Friday afternoon at 4:00pm, where the NFL will flip a coin to determine whether the Hawks pick 11th or 12th. They're currently tied with Kansas City. So, that's potentially pretty big. Keep your fingers crossed that luck is on our side on that one.
Also, importantly - from what I understand, Dan Kadar and the Mocking the Draft crew are going to be in Indianapolis this week/weekend so make sure to check up on things over there as frequently as you can. I know that SB Nation has a few other representatives in attendance as well so that's something to keep you eye on. I'm hoping in the near future I can grab some credentials for the Combine but until that day I will live vicariously through all of them.
Because the main reason players go to the Combine is to be tested and drilled on their physical prowess and positional skills, here's my breakdown of the different tests to expect. Most of what's written below is taken from the coverage we're putting together over at SB Nation Seattle, so make sure you head over there for really up to the minute updates these next few days.
The NFL Combine is made up of several tests for teams to further evaluate potential players and is meant to measure a number of different things - athleticism in general, top-end speed, explosiveness, agility, power, and strength. Intelligence, skills, hand-eye coordination, and maturity. Essentially, the skills needed to play at a high level in the NFL.
Fans like to place a lot of emphasis on the '40-time' a player records and that's typically the number that gets thrown around the most, but there are many tests to monitor as you watch the Combine this week. The typical tests administered at the Combine include: 40-yard dash, bench press (225 lb repetitions), vertical jump, broad jump, 20 yard shuttle, 3 cone drill, 60-yard shuttle, position-specific drills, interviews - each team is allotted 60 interviews in 15-minute intervals, physical measurements, injury evaluation, drug screen, the Cybex test and the Wonderlic Test. Let's run through them quickly.
The 40: Yes, this is the sexiest of them all. The 40-yard dash measures how quickly the athlete can run 40 yards, starting from a dead stop. This test is broken down into splits as well - 10 yards and 20 yards, to measure acceleration vs top-end speed. Fast split times indicate quick twitch acceleration and is valuable for any player in this league.
A good 40-time is going to be in the 4.4 to 4.5 second range for receivers, running backs, and defensive backs. 4.6-4.8 is what you could expect from a lot of the other positions - linebackers, defensive ends, tight ends, and some quarterbacks. Most linemen are going to run 4.9 or higher. If you see anyone run in the 4.3s or even the 4.2s, you're seeing something special.
Bench: This is mainly for the big guys - linemen and linebackers. It measures strength and stamina, mostly. Oregon State's Stephen Paea set the all-time Combine record last year with 49 reps at 225 pounds but anywhere in the 30s is pretty good. Guys with longer arms don't do as well because they're lifting the weight further, but in general I don't think teams look too much into the bench press test, unless a player just does horribly. That would indicate lack of dedication most likely - failure to hit the weights or prepare yourself.
Vertical Jump: This test tells teams how much lower body explosiveness a player has. You're not allowed to run and jump; you take off from a standing position, and a benchmark for the elite group in terms of vertical jump is 38" to 42". Anything more than that, you're looking at a freak of nature. Well, all these guys are kind of freaks in that sense, but 43", 44" or more is pretty rare. Virgil Green of Nevada hit 42.5" and Jonathan Baldwin of the Chiefs hit 42" on his vert last year to lead the way.
I'd say this test is probably more important for the receivers and defensive backs but really, lower body strength and explosiveness is pretty important for any player.
Broad Jump: Similar to the vertical, this test measures lower body strength and power. Explosiveness. The player jumps forward as far as they can from a standstill. 10 feet is the baseline for 'good', but if you get into the 10'6" range, you're looking impressive. Julio Jones blew everyone out of the water last year when he registered an 11'3" broadjump. The recent best was Cincinnati's Jerome Simpson in 2009, who jumped 11'4".
20 yard Shuttle (AKA "short shuttle"): Also referred to as the "5-10-5", it's a test of a player's lateral movement ability. The player basically starts in the middle of an area that's 10 yards long - he bursts out of a 3-point stance and runs five yards to the right, switches gears and go ten to the left, then again to the right to finish off. This drill is a lot more important than many people believe - some say it's more important than the 40-yard dash because it measures short-area quickness and agility, things any player on the NFL field requires. A good test in this area can get you noticed. Boise State's Austin Pettis set the bar last year with a 3.88 second short shuttle. Anything below 4-flat though, and you're getting looks.
3-Cone Drill: Similar to the 20-yard shuttle in importance. It measures change of direction, short-area burst, agility, and importantly, balance. Also known as the "L" drill. Players start out in a three point stance at the first cone, run forward five yards to the second, change direction back to where they started, change direction again and back to the second cone again. Instead of stopping there, they hang a right and around the third cone at the end of the "L". Coming back, the player again makes a 90 degree turn to their left then through the finish. Basically, it measures a players ability to keep their speed up through sharp turns and is especially important for receivers, corners, and defensive ends.
Benchmark for 'good' is 7 seconds. Benchmark for 'elite' - 6.5 seconds. Jeff Maehl turned some heads last year and ran a 6.42 for the best time at the Combine. He wasn't drafted, but caught on with Texas as an UDFA. Teams will be watching this time very closely, especially for those three positions mentioned above.
It seems to me that the Combine is actually fairly important to this Seahawks' front office. They've shown a predilection for athletic freaks of nature in the later rounds so keep your eye on 'sleepers' that impress with very fast 40-times, but more particularly, quick 3-cone drills and elite short shuttle times. Throughout the season, you'll see the Hawks add guys that excelled in these categories and some of them will even stick with the team. Chris Maragos, Ricardo Lockette, Jameson Konz, these are a few examples. Obviously, they're talented football players, but I do believe that John Schneider and company believe, to an extent, that you can't teach speed and that faster, more athletic, and more physical teams are what win in the NFL.
Check out the Combine schedule after the jump.
Day One Arrivals (Wednesday):
Group 1 (Special Teams, Offensive Linemen)
Group 2 (Offensive Linemen)
Group 3 (Tight Ends)
-Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - Travel to Indianapolis, Registration, Hospital Pre-Exam & X-rays, Orientation, Interviews
-Thursday, February 23, 2012 - Measurements, Medical Examinations, Media, Psychological Testing, Interviews
-Friday, February 24, 2012 - NFLPA Meeting, Psychological Testing, PK/ST Workout, Interviews
-Saturday, February 25, 2012 - Workout (timing, stations, skill drills), Departure from Indianapolis
Day Two Arrivals (Thursday):
Group 4 (Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers)
Group 5 (Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers)
Group 6 (Running Backs)
- Thursday, February 23, 2012 - Travel to Indianapolis, Registration, Hospital Pre-Exam & X-rays, Orientation, Interviews
- Friday, February 24, 2012 - Measurements, Medical Examinations, Media, Psychological Testing, Interviews
- Saturday, February 25, 2012 - NFLPA Meeting, Psychological Testing, Interviews
- Sunday, February 26, 2012 - Workout (timing, stations, skill drills), Departure from Indianapolis
Day Three Arrivals (Friday):
Group 7 (Defensive Linemen)
Group 8 (Defensive Linemen)
Group 9 (Linebackers)
- Friday, February 24, 2012 - Travel to Indianapolis, Registration, Hospital Pre-Exam & X-rays, Orientation, Interviews
- Saturday, February 25, 2012 - Measurements, Medical Examinations, Media, Psychological Testing, Interviews
- Sunday, February 26, 2012 - NFLPA Meeting, Psychological Testing, Interviews
- Monday, February 27, 2012 - Workout (timing, stations, skill drills), Departure from Indianapolis
Day Four Arrivals (Saturday):
Group 10 (Defensive Backs)
Group 11 (Defensive Backs)
- Saturday, February 25, 2012 - Travel to Indianapolis, Registration, Hospital Pre-Exam & X-rays, Orientation, Interviews
- Sunday, February 26, 2012 - Measurements, Medical Examinations, Media, Psychological Testing, Interviews
- Monday, February 27, 2012 - NFLPA Meeting, Psychological Testing, Interviews
- Tuesday, February 28, 2012 - Workout (timing, stations, skill drills), Departure from Indianapolis