NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
With so much build up and hype surrounding the combine and more specifically the 40 times, it’s easy to over look the more important aspects of the scouting combine.
The 40 yard dash is one of the most overrated events at the combine. There are a number of more important drills and evaluations that take place at the combine. Here are the ones I’ll be watching.
1. The Weigh In and Measurements
The weigh-in is one of the first things that happens upon arrival in Indianapolis and for some players it’s the most important. Speed, agility, vertical jump can all change to some degree.
However, players can’t change how tall they are, how long their arms are or how big their hands are. Some players may be immediately removed or red flagged on a teams board do to their weigh-in results. Many teams and agents love to puff those heights and weights up in the media guide, so there are always some surprises.
I will be closely watching to see if any players measure significantly shorter than their listed height. It’s also always a red flag when a player reports to the combine out of shape or over weight. We all remember the pictures of Andre Smith in 2009. Arm lengths will be important for offensive and defensive linemen and I’ll be looking at hand size for the skill position players.
Each player is given a thorough medical and psychological evaluation at the combine. Every year an injury or medical condition that wasn’t known about previously pops up. Whether it be one like the stress fractures in Michael Crabtree’s foot in 2009 or the life saving discovery of the cancerous mass in Marcus Cannon’s stomach.
This is especially important for players like Jared Crick and Greg Childs who missed most of the season due to injury, to see how they have healed and if they are recovered from their injuries. Rest assured that something will pop up this year that will cause a shake up to the draft board.
3. Position Drills
I put much more stock in the position drills at the combine than I do in any one individual drills. For QBs, the throwing drills will showcase their ability to make NFL throws with an emphasis on their arm strength. For WRs it’s how good their hands are and how many balls they drop under the intense pressure of the combine.
The combine is set up to showcase almost everything for each position. For offensive linemen I am looking for how quickly they can “kick and slide” to get to a speed rusher. For defensive linemen and linebackers I am looking for hip, knee and ankle flexion and their ability to play low and with leverage. What I love to watch most is the DB drills as it is fairly easy to see which DBs have quick hips and play fluid. The position drills are much more practical and have a much better in game pertinence to them than the generic drills.
3. 3-Cone Drill
As a scout we all tend to look at different things and place a higher value on them than others. One area I place a high value on is short area quickness and change of direction. The 3-cone drill is a drill that highlights quick change of direction ability. This drill is especially vital for corner backs, wide receivers and pass rushers. For a CB they need to be able to change direction at high speeds and turn to run with a WR. For a WR they need to be able to change direction and turn on a dime to get open. Pass rushers need to be able to turn at a high speed to get around an offensive tackle.
The best time in recent years was set by Oregon WR Jeff Maehl at 6.42 seconds. A good time in this event is anything between 6.7-6.95 seconds depending upon the position. Some teams value this more than others, the Patriots being one of them as I wrote in my WR case study. In 2010 Devin McCourty ran a 3 Cone of 6.7 flat and was in the top ten of the position.