Thursday, March 5, 2015

Evolution of the Game: NFL Combine

The NFL Combine is the ultimate job interview. Players spend months preparing for the combine. From the time the player’s college career ends until the combine begins they are spending every waking moment practicing drills, interview questions and taking IQ tests in hopes of improving their draft stock during this extremely important week in February. The combine takes place in Indianapolis, Indiana at Lucas Oil Stadium every February. The players spend a week in Indianapolis performing drills such as: the 40 yard dash, Bench Press, Vertical and Broad Jump, 20 yard shuttle and the 3 cone drill. The players also take place in position-specific drills, interviews with teams, a physical evaluation, and an IQ test.  Players also have their physical measurements taken in front of a room packed full of possible employers. The performances of the player’s affect where they will be drafted and the difference between running a 4.5 40 yard dash and a 4.9 can mean millions of dollars.

Photo courtesy of
So with millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs on the line why would the drills being run in the NFL combine be the exact same as they were when the combine originated in 1985? Many aspects of the game have evolved since then, why have these not? Every year there are players that test through the roof at the combine but the times and scores don’t carry over to the field, resulting in an unhappy franchise that spent millions on a draft pick that didn’t work out. How can the NFL try and prevent these so called busts from happening? Change the drills. Make the drills more position specific and cut out the ones that are beneficial to the stat performer. Matt Birk, the NFL’s director of player development and advocate for changing the combine drills, says the only reason we run the 40-yard dash is because it is the way it has always been done.1  Birk thinks there will be a gradual position-specific change instead of establishing a whole new set of drills. For example, instead of everyone testing in the 40 yard dash, the wide receivers will run a 60 and the offensive and defensive lineman will run 20 yard dashes. These different tests carry over onto the football field more so than a standardized test for all positions. Very few times will an offensive lineman sprint 40 yards down field. The 20 yard dash shows the lineman’s explosiveness and ability to get off the line which is a crucial part in being a lineman.1  It is obvious how important the combine is to the NFL and it is time they use new drills for the evaluators to use in grading athleticism at the combine. This would cause the players to not be as prepared as they are now and we would find out more about their true talent.2
1Rodack, M. (2015, February 28). NFL to study data from combine drills. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
2Gabriel, G. (2014, February 20). How Important Is Combine in Evaluation Process? Retrieved March 2, 2015.

1 comment:

  1. Ryan,

    GREAT BLOG! I have always enjoyed watching the NFL combine. Such good talent to watch and see who is going to do good with what. I very much agree with you though, it's time to come up with new drills for these future NFL players to be tested in. There are so many ways that you could test agility, endurance, and strength. Someone just needs to step up and make the idea really come to light. These athletes know what to expect at the combine, it's time to throw them a curve ball (excuse my baseball reference, I am so ready for baseball to start) and see what true talent they really carry.

    What other kind of drills do you think they should start doing?