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NFL Combine Preview

By: Greg Davis

The NFL Combine draws near. A week long excursion, the Combine has become a highly anticipated event since its inception in 1982. Management, coaches, scouts, and many more will be on hand to gather data regarding the top available players in the upcoming NFL Draft; the draft will be held during the last weekend in April. The Combine has evolved from one of medical tests, to one of medical, physical, and mental testing. The festivities are invite only, and over 300 players have been asked to travel to Indianapolis, where the combine has been held since 1987.

Players will be asked to submit to physical measurements testing, an injury evaluation, a Cybex Test—a machine tests the player's joint movement and flexibility—and even a urine test. The mental strength of each player will be tracked through team interviews and the Wonderlic Test, which is designed to test player I.Q. Players are tested in drills unique to their own position, but among the physical drills that nearly all players will be welcome to participate in:

40 Yard Dash
Measures speed and the ability to get a quick burst.

20 Yard Shuttle
This drill tests side-to-side, or lateral movement. Players must sprint and cut back and forth between lines.

60 Yard Shuttle
The same idea behind the 20 Yard Shuttle, only distance is increased, better testing player endurance.

3 Cone Drill
Players must demonstrate speed and quick cuts in this drill. A simple test of agility.

Bench Press
Quarterbacks and wide receivers don’t participate in this drill, but every other position does. Players are asked to bench 225 pounds as many times as they can.

Vertical Jump
Players jump from a stand-still and reach as high as they can. This drill is probably most important for receivers and defensive backs.

Broad Jump
Measures how far a player can jump. This drill helps test a player’s ability to gain leverage from lower-body strength.

It can often be a mystery as to which players will participate in which drills, and many times the best of the best are not hurt by their absence in certain drills—they typically schedule ‘Pro-Days’ on the campus of their school or elsewhere. It has been speculated that players expected to be taken at the top of the draft, such as JaMarcus Russell, Brady Quinn, and Calvin Johnson, may not participate in the 40-yard sprint—perhaps the most notable event—and could simply favor to display their talent in the comfortable setting of their pro-day. This is becoming a more popular trend, it seems.

Those who truly benefit from the Combine are those who have been overlooked or had their talent repeatedly questioned—an opportunity to quiet detractors awaits. Of course, with the possibility of benefit comes the possibility of suffering. The numbers posted during the Combine can help a player’s stock soar, but it can also crush a player’s chances of going high. Those who have posted incredible 40 times in the past have elevated their status to relative extreme levels, while those who have faltered have lost considerable favor in the eyes of NFL teams.

Of those who might impress the most at the Combine, Adrian Peterson is one to watch. If Peterson can post a strong 40-yard dash number and shows no signs of problems with his physical testing, he could slide up even higher than the top ten where most analysts have him going. Another big name player that could impress is Dwayne Jarrett. If he shows top-level agility and posts a 40-yard dash in the 4.4 range, teams will likely fall over each other trying to grab him up. One other player to watch will be Louisville running back Michael Bush. Bush broke his leg in his first game this past season against Kentucky, but had scored three touchdowns prior to the injury and was coming off a strong junior season. His physical tests and 40-yard time could go a long way in making Bush a first-round selection.

Look for complete combine coverage at starting Thursday Februray 22nd.

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